The Codifiers

Canonical texts—including the earliest book printed—shaped the theoretical and procedural underpinnings of witchcraft persecution. Written between the end of the 15th century and the beginning of the 17th, these books both made the case against witches and helped spread the word. The authors were French, German, Spanish, and English, but most chose to write in Latin, the lingua franca of European intellectuals. Most were ecclesiastical leaders, several adjudicated witchcraft trials, and one was a king. Those writing in the latter half of this period built upon and extended the earlier works. All believed that witchcraft was the work of the devil and had to be ruthlessly eradicated.

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