“Wine vat witches suffocate children” The Mythical Components of the Iberian Witch

by Paul Castell Granados

At the beginning of the 15th century, a new type of crime emerged in different parts of Europe. It was characterized by night flights to diabolical assemblies, apostasy, pacts with the Devil, and by causing illness and death through various means. The men and women found guilty of this crime received different names in the contemporary sources, such as streghe, hexen,vaudois, sorcieres or bruxas, thus attesting to the various traditions behind the birth of this phenomenon. Some of those names clearly referred to an anti-heretical tradition, while others were related to maleficent magic, or evoked mythical figures associated with nocturnal attacks. During the last decades, several authors have focused on those different traditions in an attempt to understand the emergence of this new crime of witchcraft in late medieval Europe.


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