Abstract

Abstract:

The late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries experienced an upsurge in the number of proceedings against stregheria, the Italian term for witchcraft and various forms of popular magic, pursued by the Holy Office, Venice's branch of the Inquisition. Scattered throughout witness testimony, many of these cases contain accounts of objects referred to as stregamenti, witchcraft things. This article examines the descriptions and role of stregamenti in Holy Office records to better understand how women practitioners and observers of stregheria perceived physical objects as potential sources of agency and, more broadly, analyzes the late Rinascimento Venetian belief in the ability of material things to take on spiritual significance. By employing material culture methodologies, this article utilizes promising new avenues for understanding how the meanings and uses of material things were constantly negotiated by female practitioners of magic in late Rinascimento Venice, a material realm believed to be infused with spiritual possibilities.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2036
Print ISSN
1042-7961
Pages
pp. 115-138
Launched on MUSE
2020-09-04
Open Access
No
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