Scourge of Demons Possession, Lust, and Witchcraft in a Seventeenth-Century Italian Convent

ISBN-10: 1580462987

ISBN-13: 9781580462983

Edition: 2009

Authors: Jeffrey R. Watt

List price: $90.00
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In 1636, residents at the convent of Santa Chiara in Carpi in northern Italy were struck by an extraordinary illness that provoked bizarre behavior. Eventually numbering fourteen, the afflicted nuns were subject to screaming fits, throwing themselves on the floor, and falling abruptly into a deep sleep. When medical experts' cures proved ineffective, exorcists ministered to the women and concluded that they were possessed by demons and the victims of witchcraft. Catering to women from elite families, the nunnery suffered much turmoil for three years and, remarkably, three of the victims died from their ills. A maverick nun and a former confessor were widely suspected to be responsible, through witchcraft, for these woes. Based primarily on the exhaustive investigation by the Inquisition of Modena, The Scourge of Demons examines this fascinating case in its historical context. The travails of Santa Chiara occurred at a time when Europe witnessed peaks in both witch-hunting and in the numbers of people reputedly possessed by demons. Female religious figures appeared particularly prone to demonic attacks, and Counter-Reformation Church authorities were especially interested in imposing stricter discipline on convents. Watt carefully considers how the nuns of Santa Chiara understood and experienced alleged possession and witchcraft, concluding that Santa Chiara's diabolical troubles and their denouement -- involving the actions of nuns, confessors, inquisitorial authorities, and exorcists -- were profoundly shaped by the unique confluence of religious, cultural, judicial, and intellectual trends that flourished in the 1630s. Jeffrey R. Watt is professor of history at the University of Mississippi.
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Book details

List price: $90.00
Copyright year: 2009
Publisher: University of Rochester Press
Publication date: 3/15/2009
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 312
Size: 6.00" wide x 9.00" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 1.298
Language: English

List of Illustrations
Introduction: Nuns, Witchcraft, and the Inquisition
Female Religious, Claustration, and Santa Chiara of Carpi
The Outbreak and Maleficia
The Confessor and Love Magic
The Exorcists and the Demons
Sisters Dealta and Ippolita under Attack
Bellacappa's Defense
The Waning of the Possessions
Appendix A
Appendix B
List of Abbreviations
Selected Bibliography
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