Heresy and the Diabolic Cult
Magic contributed much to the image of the diabolic witch. The Christian concept of heresy made an even greater imput. This concept developed through four stages. In the eleventh century the most vile abominations were ascribed to all dissenters; in the twelfth they were invariably accused of devil-worship. During the church's vigorous attack on dissidents in the thirteenth century institutions and attitudes were created which exaggerated the extent of the problem. Explanations of the fourteenth-century crisis in terms of God's wrath and personal repentance had little appeal. By the fifteenth a simple and more acceptable cause was discovered for personal misfortune, and a simplistic picture of heresy emerged. A diabolical cult was attempting to destroy Christendom and creating personal havoc in the process.