Tag Archives: history

Repression of Heresy in Medieval Germany

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Repression of Heresy in Medieval Germany [Bookshop, Amazon, Publisher] by Richard Kieckhefer.

Kieckhefer Repression of Heresy in Medieval Germany

Kieckhefer’s Repression of Heresy in Medieval Germany is only incidentally concerned with heresy or heretics; it is focused on the activity and social apparatus of repression. His reason for not calling it Iniquisitors and Inquisition in Medieval Germany was doubtless twofold. On the one hand, he focuses here chiefly on heresy as the object of inquisitional proceedings, as opposed to witchcraft, blasphemy, or or other possible crimes. On the other hand, it is his thesis that while there were instances and episodes of inquisition in Medieval Germany, there was no Inquisition as a durable institution that could either support or constrain individual inquisitors. It is this lack that Kieckhefer foregrounds as the reason for the relative failures of medieval inquisitors to eliminate or control heresy and its spread in Germany. This explanation is counter to the longstanding prior assumption (credited chiefly to Henry Charles Lea’s 1888 History of the Inquisition in the Middle Ages) that inquisitors were hampered by local powers jealous of their prerogatives and jurisdictions.

In the absence of a durable institution, inquisitors had two possible sources of authority: bishops or the pope. The former would necessarily be aligned with the diocesan clergy whom they supervised, and the latter typically appointed Dominicans. Still, cooperation between papal inquisitors and local bishops was the rule rather than the exception, according to Kieckhefer’s account. The lack of institutional grounding made inquisitorial proceedings both less effectual and more prone to abuses than they would otherwise have been, and where there was genuine resistance of local authorities, it tended to arise from concern over the fairness and accuracy of the proceedings.

The book is organized chronologically, with different conspicuous heresies serving to characterize its periods: the rise of Waldensianism, the Free Spirit, beghards and beguines, the Waldensian “crisis” of the late fourteenth century, flagellants, and Hussites. Kieckhefer is careful to point out that his treatment of these heretics is far from comprehensive, being limited to the details bearing on his study of the inquisitors and their work, along with some general information for contextual purposes, and he refers the reader to other books for purposes of studying the heretical movements themselves. (Repression of Heresy is a scholarly work with a full apparatus, and the endnotes and bibliography are more than a third of the length of the body text.)

Although this book is now nearly forty years old, I suspect it has yet to be superseded with respect to its central focus. (For one with a somewhat wider geographic and conceptual scope, restricted to the earlier periods treated in Kiekhefer’s study, see Moore’s Formation of a Persecuting Society.) As Kieckhefer remarks at the outset, the study of medieval inquisition has traditionally drawn much of its impetus from “Protestant-Catholic polemics” which have been undermined by Christian ecumenism (ix). The relative lack of inquisitorial achievement in Germany means that it has not been an attractive object for study. The explanation proposed in this book, taking institutional development as its index, is one that might be applied to other historical problems. But in his closing, the author cautions that the relationship is unlikely to be a simple one, and that while too anemic an institution could lead to failure and abuse, overweening institutional development might do so as well, and the latter might be a more fitting consideration for our own time.

Magic and Masculinity

Magic and Masculinity: Ritual Magic and Gender in the Early Modern Era by Frances, part of the International Library of Historical Studies series, from I B Tauris, may be of interest. Dan Harms posted a review over on his blog.

Frances Timbers Magic and Masculinity I B Tauris

“In early modern England, the practice of ritual or ceremonial magic – the attempted communication with angels and demons – both reinforced and subverted existing concepts of gender. The majority of male magicians acted from a position of control and command commensurate with their social position in a patriarchal society; other men, however, used the notion of magic to subvert gender ideals while still aiming to attain hegemony. Whilst women who claimed to perform magic were usually more submissive in their attempted dealings with the spirit world, some female practitioners employed magic to undermine the patriarchal culture and further their own agenda. Frances Timbers studies the practice of ritual magic in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries focusing especially on gender and sexual perspectives. Using the examples of well-known individuals who set themselves up as magicians (including John Dee, Simon Forman and William Lilly), as well as unpublished diaries and journals, literature and legal records, this book provides a unique analysis of early modern ceremonial magic from a gender perspective.”

Omnium Gatherum: July 20th, 2014

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for July 30th, 2014

Afterlife with Archie issue 6
“Afterlife With Archie” Issue 6 is a comic every Lovecraft fan will enjoy — Mike Davis, Lovecraft eZine

 

Here are some top gatherum posts from the BBS this week:

  • The Baphomet Sculpture Hidden in Brooklyn — Jena Cumbo, Village Voice

    “Lucien Greaves (a.k.a. Doug Mesner), one of the people who commissioned the sculpture, that now sits in a warehouse in Red Hook, Brooklyn, asked the sculptor — we’ll call him “Jack” — to forgo the breasts. This Baphomet is smooth-chested and muscular, with thin, shapely lips and rectangular pupils. The sculptor based his physique on a blend of Michelangelo’s David and Iggy Pop.”

  • ‘Join us in our ritual,’ beckons Cthulhu-based cryptocurrency — Adrianne Jeffries, The Verge

    “Written in the voodoo cultspeak of futurist horror writer H.P. Lovecraft’s short story, ‘The Call of Cthulhu,’ the creepy Cthulhu Offerings may be the most confusing digital currency yet.

    ‘The time draws near, the return of The Great Old One is upon us,’ writes the developer. ‘Join us in our ritual.'”

  • 70,000 Year-Old African Settlement Unearthed — Past Horizons

    “During ongoing excavations in northern Sudan, Polish archaeologists from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology in Poznań, have discovered the remains of a settlement estimated to 70,000 years old. This find, according to the researchers, seems to contradict the previously held belief that the construction of permanent structures was associated with the so-called Great Exodus from Africa and occupation of the colder regions of Europe and Asia.”

  • The Occult Knowledge – Strategies of Epistemology in La Société Voudon Gnostique — Maria Liberg, a Bachelor thesis in Religious Studies at University of Gothenburg, supervised by Henrik Bogdan

    “The academic research on Western esotericism in general and contemporary occultism in particular has been largely neglected in earlier scholarship and has only recently gained serious academic attention. This thesis examines how the contemporary occult group, La Société Voudon Gnostique, headed by David Beth and an organization under the general current Voudon Gnosis, legitimate their claims to knowledge, mainly through three discursive strategies of epistemology offered by Olav Hammer, namely: the appeal to (1) tradition; (2) scientism as a language of faith; and narratives of (3) experience. Since Hammer argues that these strategies can be found in esoteric currents in general, but only examines theosophy, anthroposophy and New Age as well as only examining “esoteric spokespersons” this thesis aims at examine them in relation to contemporary occultism as well as in relation to both the spokesperson and to “ordinary adherents”. In order do this, La Société Voudon Gnostique works as a case study in qualification of being a contemporary occult group that has gained no academic attention before.

    The conclusions of this thesis are that the strategies are all prevalent, to a more or less extent, in La Société Voudon Gnostique and they are also used by the adherents. Besides the strategies proposed by Hammer, this thesis argues that the secrecy and elitist approach, which can be found in the texts, also can be seen as a discursive strategy of epistemology.”

  • Christian Persecution: The Movie! — Scott Stenwick, Augoeides; about the forthcoming movie Persecuted

    “Persecuted, is based on a laughably impossible premise that the audience is supposed to find threatening. In this case, it’s the government attempting to legislate religion, something Poor Oppressed Christians are totally for until they realize that religious freedom also applies to non-Christians. Then they go off the rails about how wrong and unfair it is that they aren’t treated as special and given more privileges than everyone else.”

  • The True History of Libertarianism in America: A Phony Ideology to Promote a Corporate Agenda — Mark Ames, NSFWCORP at Alternet

    “Pull up libertarianism’s floorboards, look beneath the surface into the big business PR campaign’s early years, and there you’ll start to get a sense of its purpose, its funders, and the PR hucksters who brought the peculiar political strain of American libertarianism into being — beginning with the libertarian movement’s founding father, Milton Friedman.”

    “That is how libertarianism in America started: As an arm of big business lobbying.”

  • Aldous Huxley quoted at Reversed Alchemy — Michael Gilleland, Laudator Temporis Acti

    “Certain authors possess the secret of a kind of reversed alchemy; they know how to turn the richest gold into lead. The most interesting subjects become in their hands so tedious that we can hardly bear to read about them.”

  • Ian Clark quoted at The Limits of “Unlimited” — Barbara Fister, Inside Higher Ed

    “By speaking up, we are not only defending public libraries but the entire notion of public services. Silence is not how we defend ourselves against an ideological battle, it is how we surrender.”

  • More Songs for the Witch Woman — John Coulthart, feuilleton

    “It’s been a great pleasure in recent years seeing the welling of interest in Cameron’s work. In 2001 when I was compiling notes for an abandoned study of occult cinema, Cameron as artist, witch or mere human being was a shadowy presence about whom nothing substantial seemed to have been written; her art was impossible to see anywhere, all one had were fleeting references in books”

  • Love Spells — Sarah Anne Lawless

    “Love spells are black magic. Love spells to manipulate the body, heart, and soul. Love spells to dominate, to bind, to cause destruction and madness and pain.

    Love spells are not about love, they are about the lustful eye and the selfish heart. Be honest with yourself about it and then move on to the work at hand.”

  • Bible Stories for Newly Formed and Young Corporations — Tom the Dancing Bug, Boing Boing

    Tom the Dancing Bug Bible-stories for Young Corporations detail

     

  • Stick-Gods — Inonibird

    “‘Stick-Gods’ is the culmination of over a dozen years of fascination with Ancient Egypt—particularly, its mythology and deities. Whether you’re studying Egyptology, a practicing Kemetic or just a fan of myths, there should be something in there for you! I’m doing my best to balance informed content with a fair bit of silliness. …And puns. Lots of puns.”

    Inonibird Stick-Gods

     

  • William Blake’s Sexual Path to Spiritual Vision, by Marsha Keith Schuchard — Gesigewigu’s, Spiral Nature; a review of William Blake’s Sexual Path to Spiritual Vision from Inner Traditions

    “Reading William Blake one cannot help but realize this is a man who is both religious and spiritually active, especially his poems known as the prophecies. The question is what was the nature of his spiritual life? What inspired Blake to create works that are both heavily Christian and at the same time antagonistic to many Christian ideals? The surprising answer is laid out as Schuchard leads us back into the complex religious web of mystical Christianity of the 17th and 18th century.”

  • A Victim of Drunken Channeling — Scott Stenwick, Augoeides

    “Aleister Crowley criticized spiritism as ‘a sort of indiscriminate necromancy’ because of a complete lack of formal magical procedures and protections, in which many mediums simply opened themselves up to whatever spiritual force happened to be present. Modern channelers such as Knight still employ essentially the same methods that Crowley was talking about. As such, there’s a real possibility that any channeling attempt could reach just about any spirit, like some sort of metaphysical Chatroulette.”

  • Mary Magdalene and the Gospel according to Mary — Kate Cooper; an edited excerpt from Band of Angels: The Forgotten World of Early Christian Women from Overlook Press

    “The argument between the four disciples seems to be our anonymous writer’s way of exploring the different positions being taken by the men and women of his own day on the question of an alternative tradition being handed down by women. But he is also expressing his concern that the Church is changing, and not for the better. In his eyes, Peter seems to represent the voice of a faction in the community which wants to ‘make rules or lay down laws other than the Saviour gave’ – in other words, a group that wants to develop an institutional structure to replace the more fluid and informal movement of the early decades. This was clearly a topical warning after the death of the disciples who had known Jesus. Levi thinks that the new rules are a way of drawing the community away from fulfilling its task of preaching the gospel. The anonymous writer seems to be using Levi to suggest that too much emphasis on authority from the ‘Peter faction’ is stifling the Church.”

  • “Afterlife With Archie” Issue 6 is a comic every Lovecraft fan will enjoy — Mike Davis, Lovecraft eZine

    “As the story begins, our heroine Sabrina Spellman is relating one of her eldritch dreams to her psychiatrist, Dr. Lovecraft. Sabrina has apparently been committed to an institution because after her aunts died in a house fire, she had a breakdown and couldn’t deal with the reality of their death.

    But is that really what happened?”

 

If you’d like to participate in the Omnium Gatherum, head on over to the Gatherum discussions at the Hrmtc Underground BBS. You can check out all the other gatherum posts, like posts you enjoy, and even add your own posts with links to other things of interest, related to the subject matter of the library, from elsewhere around the Internet.