EDMONTON - A rare medieval manuscript on how to recognize, question, torture and burn witches is being resurrected at the University of Alberta.
It's one of only four copies in the world, with the other three housed in libraries in France, Brussels, and Oxford.
I have taken most of the important quotes from the article but for those who wish to view the source please see below:
Rare Witch Hunting Manual
Revealed at University of Alberta
History Professor Andrew Gow, along with his grad student, Francois Pageau, hope to release the contents of the manual to the public once they have
finished its translation. (medieval French to English)
Professor Andrew Gow, who came across the originally miscatalogued book and is now working on translating it from medieval French to English,
describes the content as "atrocious."
"It wasn't until books like this appeared and spread the idea that witchcraft is actually a form of Satan worship, a form of service to the devil,
that witchcraft becomes a capital crime."
For those who do not know, Wikipedia
describes the classical period of witch-hunts in Europe and
North America to have occurred from 1480 to 1750 resulting in an estimated 40,000 to 60,000 executions.
According to the article, and personal sources I know at the University of Alberta, this manuscript dates back to a time before the "state-sponsored"
witch hunts. Written in 1460, it is not only a window into the minds of those responsible for this disturbing period in history but
Gow also considers the text to be a priceless cultural artifact that holds great insight into the history of Europe. In addition to changing the
way witchcraft was looked at in medieval Europe, the work may also be responsible for a common image we associate with witches: them riding on
I, for one, am very interested in seeing the results of this translation. To have the insight into the earliest known propaganda behind the idea of
"witches" is exciting to me. I remember that I was a young teenager the very first time I heard about the witch hunts, I had just read The Crucible
for a school project, and found myself completely blown away by the story. Not even aware at the time that the reality was so much worse than could
ever be depicted in a fiction novel. In addition to guidelines set to determine what classifies someone as a "witch" the manuscript contains records
of trials and appeals. I would be interested in seeing if any of my ancestors made it in there. I am pretty sure if these guidelines still existed
today I would have been burned at the stake a LONG time ago.
The fact that this manual is locked up, merely a 15 minute drive from where I live, makes this even more exciting for me. There may be a chance I
might actually get to see it (through glass, I would assume) but how often does somebody get a chance to do so.
And mods, if you feel that this should be moved to a more appropriate forum, please do so. I realize that a manuscript from the 1400's does not
qualify as ancient but couldn't think of another place to post something that is rare and medieval.
Edit: Just realized what time it is. Happy Halloween Everyone. Way to kick it off, medieval style.
edit on 31/10/2012 by TheSparrowSings because: time