4 février 2013

Oral Production

Classé dans : text — witchcraftpopularbeliefsjusticeandsociety @ 23 h 54 min


At last but not least.

11 décembre 2012

Salem, a conditioning society

Classé dans : text — witchcraftpopularbeliefsjusticeandsociety @ 3 h 57 min

Salem was created to be a perfect puritan society, « a light on the world ». Nothing could hint that about 60 years after the foundation of the colony a group of young girls would set the seed of a disorder which revealed social tensions, fears and a blinded faith in a strict religion. The religious conditioning of the puritan society may have favoured excentric reactions especially of the children whose consciousness of god, of sins or of the devil were overfed: in the book of Liliane Crété, Les sorcières de Salem, it is reported that a seven year-old girl named Ann Bradstreet « began to « take cousciousness » of the lord’s ways and not sin ». Another example: Elizabeth Butcher, two and a half year-old girl, had been heard asking the following question: « What is my corrupted nature? »

The political instability during the period of the trials led to a miscarriage of justice which now could be considered parodical, even criminal : allowing  « the spectral evidence » as sufficient evidence to judge a suspect was completly irrational and also absolutely catastrophic.


Classé dans : text — witchcraftpopularbeliefsjusticeandsociety @ 2 h 50 min

History Channel: Salem Witch Trials

Ergotism is a medical explanation of the girls symptoms before and during the Salem trials:

« This medical explanation for the theory of “bewitchment” is one first propounded by LinndaR. Caporael in 1976 in an article in Science. In her article, Caporael argues that the convulsive symptoms, such as crawling sensations in the skin, tingling in the fingers, vertigo, tinnitus aurium, headaches, disturbances in sensation, hallucination, painful musuclar contractions, vomiting and diarrhea, as well as psychological symptoms, such as mania, melancholia, psychosis and delirium, were all symptoms reported in the Salem witchcraft records. »


A document study

Classé dans : text — witchcraftpopularbeliefsjusticeandsociety @ 2 h 20 min

 Salem Witch Trials

                        In search of history


This video document deals with the Salem Trials. I will use it as a support to make a summary of the events and to shed the light on the causes of the affair which are evoked by the experts.

At first the documentary exposes witchcraft in the context of the Middle Ages in Europe. The christian church was powerful as it was a religion of state like in England, France, Germany or Italy. Since Innoncent the 8th, the Church considered witchcraft as a heresy which meant a crime. Christians refered to these words of  the Bible “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” (Exodus 22:18). During the late Middle Ages the weakening of christianity led to an incquisition administrated by the Church  against heresies and therefore against witchcraft.

Another book is mentioned: The Malleus Malifecarum which is a treatise on the prosecution of witches, written in 1486 by Heinrich Kramer, a German catholic clergyman. According to this book, they’re various ways to prove someone to be a wizard.


-         a mark of the devil (teet on a body)

-         to put somebody in the water (“swimming a witch”)

In the Middle ages torture was also encouraged to fight against witchcraft.

In England, witchcraft were considered as a crime against  the church and so against the state, which was a “capital offense”. And so, during centuries, the church propaganda led people to accuse each other.


The second part of the documentary introduces Salem which was designed to be “A city on the hill” (cf: Governor John Winthrop). The town were founded by Puritans who were true believers in Satan and witchcraft heresy.  The first case of witchcraft in Massachussets occured in Charlestown where Margaret Jones had been accused, judged and hanged. Another name is mentioned: Godwife Glover whose case had been investigated by Cotton Mather.  He was the son of Increase Mather, and wrote a book intitled: Memorable Providence, Relating to wichcraft and Possessions (1689) : “Mather’s account, describing the symptoms of witchcraft, was widely read and discussed throughout Puritan New England. The book was in the meager library of Samuel Parris, the Salem minister in whose house began the tragic events of 1692.”  http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/salem/asa_math.htm


A third part is dedicated to the Salem trials history. The story, as it is known, began during the winter 1691-1692 in the house of the reverend Samuel Parris where a woman called Tituba, the slave of the family, showed voodoo tricks to Parris’ daughter and niece. Then Tituba’s tricks became secretly attractive to a group of  young girls who at first kept their obvious sins secret and then started to change their behaviours. (“they throw things, they scream and cry”).

The girls were declared “Under the evil hand of witchcraft”by a doctor named William who diagnosed a “spiritual cause” for their diseases. The girls admitted their participations in Tituba’s “ceremonies” and went further in their confessions which became accusations. The trials of Salem began on 01/03/1692. The young girls confirmed their first testimonies and their accusations moved forward. They declared to have been tortured by the spector of a lot of people from Salem and from other towns of the New England. The Salem trials ended in october 1692. More than 200 people had been accused, about 20 had been hanged and 4 died in jails.

Few years later public repentences and Anne Putnam’s testimony confirm that the community slowly regained consciousness and that the girl’s accusations threw the town into suspicion and mass hysteria.



Although this document  introduces clearly the facts and some questions about the causes of the dramatics affairs,  I would like to come back to the turning points of the trials.

According to me the fact that the magistrates allowed the “spectral evidence” as a sufficient evidence to accuse anybody, was one of the most important elements which threw confusion in the community. Because it led to an absolute subjective way of treating the convicts. Proof couldn’t be seen by the court but only by the girls.

Another important event occured when the girls accused Rebbecca Nurse although she was considered as a model of puritanism by the all community. And so, from that moment anyone in  Salem could be be suspected of practicing sorcery. It is also remarkable that despite the reaction of some people who doubted of the girl’s words it was certainly the suspicion about more important people like the governor Phips’s wife which led the trials to an end. The words of Increase Mather whose wife was also suspected sums up the will to give an end to an unfounded and tragical process “It were better that ten suspected witches should escape, than that the innocent person should be condemned” (Cases of Conscience Concerning Evil Spirits)


According to this documentary few other questions have to be asked. First, about the girls’s behaviour: why did they act like that? “The rock star syndrom” especially holds my attention: “They were at the bottom of the social scale, getting attention for themselves”. The parental influence is also evoked: “[The girls] accused people who, according to their parents were people who had a reputation of witchcraft in the community”. And so it leads directly to ask if there were any personal benefits from these trials? It has to be remembered that tensions existed between the two parts of Salem, between the merchants of the town and the farmers of the village. In 1692 the extension of private property was quite impossible because of  the limits of the Salem borders. Greed might have had its influence in Salem during the progress of the events.


This document has both a historical and narrative approach. It leans on the purpose of specialists of the whichcraft topic whose interviews lead the viewer to adopt a rational posture in front of apparently irrational topic. It seems obvious that popular beliefs in the devil and in its capacities to tempt humans, involved fears and mass hysteria. I would add that in the second part of the 17th century a feeling of a loss of puritan values was pre-existing to the events of 1692. The dreamed « city on the hill » was involved in a conflict with the crown of England, and so living without real bounds (read the article Context), but also with the local Indians, and other confessions like Quakers. Money, greed and personal conflicts was considered by the puritans themselves as the first sins of the puritans of Salem.


5 décembre 2012

Translation- America a narrative history – Roger Williams (et Anne Hutchinson)

Classé dans : text — witchcraftpopularbeliefsjusticeandsociety @ 12 h 59 min

Translation- America a narrative history - Roger Williams (et Anne Hutchinson) dans text narrative_history_of_america_033


A man reflecting the society he lived in-translation of the page 61 from line 6 to line 40

Plus par accident que par intention, le Massachusetts devint une avant scène pour le reste de la Nouvelle Angleterre alors que des nouvelles colonies se développaient sans qu’il ne fusse question en leur sein de querelles religieuses. Le puritanisme a créé un amalgame explosif: d’une part la recherche de la volonté divine pouvait mener à une orthodoxie rigide; d’autre part il pouvait conduire les consciences fragiles à adopter des convictions changeantes, radicales voire bizarres. Roger Williams qui arriva en 1631 faisait parti des premiers jeunes hommes à poser les problèmes, précisément parce qu’il était un bon puritain et qu’il s’inquiétait des tentatives infructueuses du Massachusetts Non-Conformiste à répudier l’entière Église d’Angleterre. Il tint un bref sermon à Salem, puis prodigua dans la ville Séparatiste de Plymouth. Le gouverneur Bradford jugea Williams doux et courtois dans ses relations personnelles et vit en lui un orateur charismatique. Mais il n’a pas moins infirmé que Williams « commença à avoir des opinions étranges »,  plus particulièrement au sujet de la question du droit du Roi à disposer des terres Indiennes plaçant ce dernier « sous le pêché de l’usurpation du bien d’autrui »; Williams revint alors à Salem. Sa croyance en une véritable église qui ne pouvait avoir de rapport avec l’inrégénérable l’a mené à l’hypothèse qu’aucune église n’était possible, à l’exception peut être d’une, lui même et sa femme- et encore eut-il des doutes à son sujet.
Mais tout aussi excentriques qu’ont pu être ses croyances, elles n’ont pas moins guidé Williams vers des principes que les générations futures auraient honorés pour d’autres raisons. L’intégrité de l’église était assurée par une complète séparation de l’Église et de l’État, et par son impunité en matière de foi. William s’enquit donc aux autorités gouvernementales afin d’imposer un acte d’allégeance et de s’absoudre des lois imposant la conformité religieuse. Ces idées d’avant garde ne pouvaient convenir à l’église de Salem, qui rejeta finalement ses requêtes, ce sur quoi Williams déclara si vivement que les églises étaient « ulcérées et gangrénées »  qu’il fut bannit par la General Court en 1635. Toujours est-il que le gouverneur Winthrop, sans égards particuliers, permit à Williams d’intégrer fugitivement un groupe de croyants parmi les Indiens Narragansett avec lesquels il venait de se rallier. Au printemps 1636 Williams fondait la ville de Providence à la pointe de la baie de Narraganssett, la première colonie permanente de Rhode Island et la première en Amérique à accorder la liberté de culte.

26 novembre 2012

The context, Salem Massachusetts, a new colony

Classé dans : text — witchcraftpopularbeliefsjusticeandsociety @ 22 h 42 min

Salem was a British colony founded in the 1630 in Massachusetts, mostly populated by puritans « fleeing persecution, disease and economical depression » in Great Britain. Above all the settlers’s desire was to build a new and perfect society based on their religious beliefs.

More generally the migration concerned all of Massachusetts state  whose new capital became Boston. Migrants came from Ireland,the Netherlandands and Rhineland.

Salem grew thanks to the fertility of the location, the flora and the fauna and thanks to trade. Several families made quick fortunes there, and despite of arrivals of undesired Quakers and some disagreements with the crown of England, puritans were the majority and preserved their rights guaranted by a charter delivered by Charles the 1st, the King of England in 1630.

We also have to consider that Massachusetts was acting more and more independently from the homeland due to the the political instability in England.

However, after the Civil War, relations between the colony and the new King  became more conflictual as the settlers lived by their own rules.  In 1685 Charles the 2nd revocated the old chart in response to those showing feelings of independancy of the colony. After he died, the new King, James the 2nd, sent a governor to confirm that new order and to affirm the government’s authority on its distant subjects.

The General Court of Massachusetts decided to send a representative to the Lords of Trade in order to claim the right to return under the legislation stipulated by the original charter. And so, Increase Mather left New England in 1688, then the Glorious Revolution occured in England, and when he finally came back to Massachusetts in 1692 with a new Chart signed by the new King William, the Salem trials had already begun.

The aim of that presentation of the political context is to bring us to consider the importance of the lack of real bounds in which Massachusetts’s and indirectly Salem’s settlers lived within. And that flaw was one of the causes of the dramatic affairs we had to consider.




22 octobre 2012


Classé dans : text — witchcraftpopularbeliefsjusticeandsociety @ 19 h 54 min

The case of Salem.


Salem is a town in the USA which is now called Danvers, where occured an example of  “witch hunt” at the end of the 17th century. The public affairs began with interviews of possessed young people around the winter of 1691, went on with the trials of  several hundred convicts and finished with executions and imprisonments in 1692.

I will deal with the political context which is  an important component of the causes of this event.  The weight of religion, puritanism, the deficiency of  the law state, the lack of popular knowledge, popular fears, paranoias, hysterias or ergotism.

         The purpose of this work is to present a case of witch hunt and to ask  how that phenomenon suddenly  takes place in a society.

Présentation dans text Salem-Witch-Trials-51239522a

Dcouvrirparis |
Fourrure531 |
Doux, cartes postales |
Unblog.fr | Annuaire | Signaler un abus | Domoclers
| Olongchamppodsaf
| Op8longchamp