chapter  8
19 Pages

Ideology and Authority: The Establishment and Witch Hunting

The belief in a diabolical conspiracy against society would have been limited and action against it impossible without acceptance of the problem, and of its urgency, by sections of the political establishment. This acceptance was related to problems of ideology, and of power and its legitimisation - issues complicated by the religious upheavals of the sixteenth century. The varying intensity of these problems from state to state reacted with the particular composition of the relevant establishment and with the diverse nature of interplay between aristocracy and middle class, national monarch and bureaucracy, central and local administrations, and secular and ecclesiastical officials to differentiate the structure and fervour of each witch hunt.