Is there a linkage between the religious upheaval of the Reformation and the witch-hunting craze that broke out in Europe in the 1500s and 1600s? Did the disruption of the social and political order by almost constant warfare have anything to do with it? Maybe it had something to do with increasing anxiety about women’s changing roles in European society? Historians have put forth numerous explanations to try to understand why many Europeans became obsessed with the idea that people who were in league with the Devil were in their midst and needed to be rooted out.
We do know that a “how to hunt witches” manual was published in 1487 by a German Dominican monk named Heinrich Kramer (ca. 1430-1505), and it was used widely by authorities across Europe in their pursuit of the supposed devil worshippers. For this web comment, read the following excerpt from Kramer’s work that tries to explain why women appear to be more vulnerable to becoming witches than men. In your comment, summarize Kramer’s reasons, and then write about what you think Kramer’s passage reveals about men’s general attitudes toward women during this period.