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I like to read classics, historical fiction and world lit. Oh and I love short stories.

L'Imaginaire du sabbat: édition critique des textes les plus anciens (1430 c. - 1440 c.)

L'Imaginaire du sabbat: édition critique des textes les plus anciens (1430 c. - 1440 c.) - Martine Ostorero, Agostino Paravicini Bagliani, Kathrin Utz Tremp, Catherine Chene

This collection of five texts gives an interesting insight into the development of the concept of the sabbat (the gathering of witches in which they worshipped the devil) as well as a glimps of the first large scale witch hunts that took place in Latin Europe. All texts are strongly linked with the Alpine region in what is nowadays Switserland and south-east France (Bern, the val d'Aoste, the val de Valais, Lausanne, the Dauphiné). The texts describe what people believed a sabbat entailed, and what people believed witches were capable of. A lot of the examples given can be traced to real trials or real people. The horrible confessions of infanticide, cannabalism and general debauchery give an impression what people were capable of telling (and willing to believe!) under torture.

All texts are accompanied by an introduction, which provides the context of the authors as well as the political climate in which the texts have been conceived. After each text, there's a short evaluation, in which they point out several remarkable aspects of the texts.

The analysis of the relationship between the texts and the juridicial practices I found especially interesting. The editors show that these texts were written after the first witch hunts had taken place, and they argue that the texts were composed in order to justify the actions that had been taken. Four of the five texts rely on statements of eyewitnesses or were written by someone who himself was involved in the prosecution. At the same time these texts helped to galvanise the subsequent debate on the sabbat and witches as well as the judicial practice.