ABSTRACT

The woodcuts that accompanied Ulrich Molitor’s On Female Witches and Seers (De Lamiis et Phitonicis Mulieribus) (1489) contributed to the emerging iconography of witchcraft in late medieval Europe, and the development of subsequent representations of witches. Indeed, they still appear in many popular and scholarly accounts of the subject. Here Charles Zika considers the contemporary resonance of these images. He also notes their tendency to smooth out the theological nuances of Molitor’s text, and to emphasise the fear of bewitchment that dominated popular understanding of the crime (Briggs, 6). While Molitor himself was sceptical about many of the powers attributed to witches, the woodcuts told another story. They also provide early evidence of the idea of witchcraft as a collective activity, which is discussed in the extracts in Part Three.