The present study is the translation of Chapter 3 of the book of Ildikó Sz. Kristóf, entitled “Ördögi mesterséget nem cselekedtem.” A boszorkányüldözés társadalmi és kulturális háttere a kora újkori Debrecenben és Bihar vármegyében (“I have not done any diabolic deeds.” The Social
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The present study is the translation of Chapter 3 of the book of Ildikó Sz. Kristóf, entitled “Ördögi mesterséget nem cselekedtem.” A boszorkányüldözés társadalmi és kulturális háttere a kora újkori Debrecenben és Bihar vármegyében (“I have not done any diabolic deeds.” The Social and Cultural Foundation of Witch-Hunting in Early Modern Debrecen and Bihar County) published in Debrecen, Hungary in 1998. The book examined the witch-hunting in Bihar county and its largest city, the headquarters of the Calvinist church in Eastern Hungary between 1575 and 1766. During this period, 217 trials were conducted against 303 accused, and the book explored the social and religious foundations of the accusations. The witch-hunts in Bihar county were of rather small size (1–3 accused per annum) and intensity. A possible explanation for this relative mildness could be provided by a complex consideration of legal, religious, and local social circumstances. Chapter 3, published here in English, discusses Hungarian Calvinist demonology which remained rather sceptical about the concepts of diabolical witchcraft (e.g., the “covenant” or pact with the devil, the witches’ attendance at regular meetings (sabbath), etc.) throughout the early modern era. The author has studied several Calvinist treatises of theology published between the late 16th and the early 18th century by the printing press of Debrecen, those, for example, of Péter Mélius (1562), Tamás Félegyházi (1579), Péter Margitai Láni (1617), János Kecskeméti Alexis (1621), Mátyás Nógrádi (1651), Johannes Mediomontanus (1656), Pál Csehi (1656), István Diószegi Kis (1679; 1681), Gellért Kabai Bodor (1678) and Imre Pápai Páriz (1719). According to her findings, Calvinist demonology, although regarded the wordly interventions of the devil of limited scope (excepting, perhaps, the Puritans of the 1650s/1680s), urged the expurgation of the various forms of everyday magic from urban and village life. The suspicion of witchcraft fell especially on the practitioners of benevolent magic (popular healers/”wise women”, midwives, fortune-tellers, etc.) who were presumed to challenge and offend divine providence. The official religious considerations sometimes seem to have coincided with folk beliefs and explanations of misfortune concerning, among others, the plague epidemic in which witchcraft played an important role.