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“From Wise Woman to Witch: The Role of the Midwife in the Witch Trials of Early Modern Scotland and Germany”

Abstract: Between the 1500s and the 1700s in Europe, many women were put on trial.  The accusation: witchcraft.  The proceedings and subsequent executions led to what is now known in many circles as the “witch craze” of early modern Europe.  Midwives throughout Europe were a part of the proceedings, yet their role remains rather hazy.  Feminist scholars of recent years claim that midwives were singled out as witches for the work that they did, yet there is much evidence to suggest that such theories are exaggerations.  The writings of inquisitors, witnesses, and others involved in the trials of some of the larger periods of panic in Scotland in the 1590s and Germany from the 1620s to the 1660s show that the role of the midwife has been largely exaggerated. - Mahala Ruddell


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