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Church and Society in Eighteenth-Century France Volume 2: The Religion of the People and the Politics of Religion$
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John McManners

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198270041

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198270046.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 05 March 2021

The Dark Side of the Supernatural

The Dark Side of the Supernatural

(p.221) 30 The Dark Side of the Supernatural
Church and Society in Eighteenth-Century France Volume 2: The Religion of the People and the Politics of Religion

John McManners

Oxford University Press

After the ‘crisis of Satanism’ in seventeenth‐century France, eighteenth‐century churchmen, without denying the reality of witchcraft and demonic possession, took a sceptical attitude towards the existence of a ‘witch cult’ and the fears that had led to the witch craze. Despite the elaborate theories of a minority of die‐hard believers in organized Satanism, the bishops followed a policy of ‘quiet containment’, treating each case on its merits. The use of spells to gain material rewards, for example, in treasure hunting, persisted, especially but not exclusively, in the rural areas, but when such cases came before the courts, the secular judges were more severe than their ecclesiastical counterparts.

Keywords:   church courts, demonic possession, Enlightenment, Satanism, superstition, witchcraft

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