what was the inquisitorial process adopted in the 13th and 14th century?
judges investigated crimes & standards of proof needed to establish guilt
witnesses & confessions needed, though witnesses were hard to find thus prosecutions heavily relied on confessions (hence why often torture was used to extract them)
Why were the rules of the inquisitorial process relaxed at the end of the 15th century? (which could explain the rise of witchcraft in the 16th century)
Pope Innocent Vlll called witchcraft an ‘exceptional crime’ and thus removed legal limits on the use of torture
- e.g methods of torture included dislodging arms from sockets and in germany setting a fire underneath the chair the accused was sat under
How influential was the use of torture on witch prosecutions?
Where torture was used, convictions went from 40% to 95%
How can you explain free confessions without the use of torture?
- some people were mentally unstable
- some had hallucinations as a result of ergot poisoning from eating mouldy food
- some may have asked for the devils aid and felt guilty
How did ruling clerics / the clergy (often within the Holy Roman Empire) use secular authority to prosecute witches?
bishops and monks etc exercised civil power and put pressure on secular authorities to take stronger action