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Persecution

PERSECUTION

PERSECUTION. Life was difficult for almost everyone in early modern Europe. Malnutrition, grinding poverty, pervasive disease, and frequent warfare over much of the continent were commonplace challenges for early modern Europeans. Furthermore, most political systems oppressed at least some people to some degree, though the nature of that oppression changed over time and from place to place. In the context of such challenges, then, it is important to understand what persecution meant to early moderns themselves. Until recently, persecution was generally understood to apply to attacks made for reasons of religion. Individuals or groups persecuted those who, in the opinion of the persecutors, provided a particular challenge or threat to society and its underlying religious values. Thus, while in the twenty-first century people think of persecution as encompassing race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation as well as religion, to early moderns persecution explicitly referred to oppression due to one's religious practices and faith.

CONFESSIONAL VIOLENCE

Confessional violencethat is, violence perpetrated by one religious group (adhering to one "confession" or denominational statement) against anotherwas the prototypical religious persecution of the early modern period. In the wake of the upheavals caused by Martin Luther (14831546), Huldrych Zwingli (14841581), John Calvin (15091564), and the radical reformers, debate over religious matters grew increasingly heated and violent. Political leaders in the Holy Roman Empire attempted to resolve the threat of religious violence by mandating that each leader could choose one faith for his territoryeither Catholicism or Lutheranismand that all citizens would have to comply with that decision. This was at best a temporary and partial solution, however, since it took into account neither the newly emerging Calvinists nor the theologically diverse range of reform ideas brought together by the term Anabaptists, or radical reformers. Anabaptists suffered particularly in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, as would Quakers at a slightly later date, for their stark rejection of conventional religious practices, social customs, and markers of political authority.

Confessional violence often was not instigated by elites, but rather was perpetrated by peasants and artisans against other peasants and artisans. Catholics and Protestants engaged in religious persecution through most of Europe. Some places, like the Dutch Republic, witnessed a relative paucity of confessional violence. Despite some outbreaks of iconoclasm (forcibly removing images from churches) the Low Countries won an early reputation as a haven for a number of religious adherents, both Christian and Jewish. Likewise, those countries with a largely homogenous religious populationCatholic Spain and Calvinist Geneva, for exampledid not experience widespread mass confessional violence per se. Other countries were not so peaceful. Particularly infamous was France, where sporadic outbreaks of widespread violence marked the French Wars of Religion (15621598). The nadir of this violence came on St. Bartholomew's Day, 24 August 1572, when fears of a Huguenot (French Calvinist) plot against the Catholic crown led the king to order troops into Paris. A Calvinist noble and Huguenot leader was executed, and mass violence broke out, leading to the deaths of perhaps three thousand Huguenots in Paris. Over the next few days the violence spread to other French cities, and around twenty thousand more Huguenots were killed.

INQUISITIONS AND OTHER JURIDICAL ACTIVITY

The involvement of the French crown and Catholic nobility in the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre suggests that not all persecution took the form of popular mass violence, and indeed state, local, and religious officials also persecuted dissenters within their dominions. Adherents of minority Christian faiths, heretics, and those accused of witchcraft were subject to a variety of legal proceedings designed to limit their influence or eliminate them entirely.

The early modern Inquisitions of Spain and Italy provided religious leaders with a means of discouraging popular practices, like bigamy, that went against church doctrine. It could also become a means through which people could accuse and harass their political rivals. In Spain, the Inquisition was established as an arm of the state by Ferdinand and Isabella with the approval of the pope. The first target of the inquisitors were Jewish converts to Christianity and their descendents, known as conversos. These conversos may or may not have been practicing Christians, but accused of "false and simulated conversions," they were subject to whippings, exile, imprisonment, or execution. Later, the inquisitors turned their attention to "Lutherans" (Protestants), converts from Islam (known as Moriscos), and other heretics.

Protestant countries had their own legal methods of countering forbidden beliefs. Like the Inquisition, the Star Chamber in England and the Consistory in Geneva were concerned with determining the intentions of those accused, and then punishing them for wrong beliefs and intentions. But it was the Consistory that exemplified Protestant juridical attacks on heresy and other unapproved acts. The Consistory was a part of the ecclesiastic-political rule of Calvinist Geneva, designed by Calvin himself to help create a New Jerusalem. The Consistory was the organization concerned with oversight of behavior, and as such it monitored everything from gambling to heresy. Calvin was also responsible for the first execution of a heretic by a reformed churchMichael Servetus (Miguel Serveto, 15111553), who challenged the doctrine of the Trinity.

Witchcraft was also considered a dangerous challenge to religious orthodoxy and to the salvation of those involved, and so also faced considerable legal persecution. Although the precise genesis of witch-hunting is unclear, at the end of the Middle Ages thinkers began to associate certain folk practices with maleficium (evildoing) and with devilworship. Like the Inquisition, witch trials could serve as a means of exerting control over the populace, particularly for local authorities attempting to retain their power in the face of increasingly powerful royal authorities. Religious leaders, both Catholic and Protestant, could also use witch trials to attack folk practices that challenged their authority as much as did other denominations. It also seems clear that women were a particular target of witch hunts. Women involved with issues of life and death, like midwives and healers, and women on the margins of society could potentially be brought back under control by an accusation of witchcraft. Whatever the reason, and whatever those accused thought they were doing, witchcraft accusations rose dramatically in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

PERSECUTION AGAINST JEWS AND MUSLIMS

Non-Christians were at times considered dangerous to political authorities, and were subject to frequent restrictions and persecutions. Jews had been expelled from most of northwestern Europe in the Middle Ages; in the late fifteenth century and early sixteenth century they were expelled from the Iberian Peninsula and parts of Italy and the Holy Roman Empire. However, Jews continued to live in other parts of Italy and the empire, and in eastern Europe. Jews were not citizens of the towns they inhabited and existed at the mercy of the authorities. Sometimes, as Gluckel of Hameln (16461724) writes in her autobiography, Jews were expelled from individual towns, only to be permitted to return at a later date during daylight hours to conduct business. In other places, most notably Venice, Jews were forced into walled communities or ghettos, in part to control their movements and in part to protect them from occasional mob violence. There were some exceptions to this grim picture; the Netherlands in the west and Poland-Lithuania in the east offered generally safe havens for Jews, and England readmitted Jews in the 1660s. Furthermore, conditions for Jews were much better in southeastern Europe under the rule of the Ottomans. Compared to Jews, there were few Muslims in Europe. The relatively large Muslim population of Spain was forced to convert in 1500, and their descendents faced occasional charges of heresy until they were expelled en masse in 16091613. Muslims in the east increasingly came under the protection of the expanding Ottoman Empire.

PERSECUTION AND TOLERATION

By the end of the seventeenth century, persecution was on the wane in Europe. There are several explanations for this. If persecution was a means for states to exert their authority, then the decline in persecution would suggest that states had found other means of keeping their subjects in line. Independent prosecutions by local authorities were increasingly constrained by growing state authority. Religious leaders also found new means of ensuring conformity, or in some cases stopped challenging rival beliefs and practices. In addition, there was decreased interest in pursuing religious minorities and witchcraft accusations, almost an exhaustion of zeal that some have attributed to a rejection of intense interest in religious matters after the violence of religiously motivated conflicts like the Thirty Years' War (16181648) and the English Civil Wars (16421649).

Moreover, the Enlightenment of the eighteenth century generated a new "toleration debate" among the educated, in which earlier ideas about the individual nature of religious belief reemerged, this time reasoned to the conclusion that religious belief could not be coerced. John Locke (16321704), for example, argued that religious belief was voluntary, and outside the control of civil authorities, with the exception of Catholics and atheists. Skepticismabout the efficacy of witchcraft and about the nature of religious belief itselfgrew, as thinkers like Baruch Spinoza (16321677) published their ideas from the relative safety of Amsterdam. Finally, thinkers argued that political states could no longer afford to wage war over religion. Suppression of religious populations within a state, and religiously motivated wars with other states, had become so destructive that it was politically and economically unfeasible. Charles-Louis de Secondat, marquis de Montesquieu (16891755), and Voltaire (16941778) argued against the Inquisition as the epitome of an irrational, and economically counterproductive, denial of political liberty. Others pointed out that, by other names, Lutherans and Calvinists had instituted their own inquisitions that were equally dangerous. By the end of the eighteenth century, Europe had moved away from the religious persecution that had marked the beginning of the early modern period.

See also Anabaptism ; Calvinism ; Conversos ; Ghetto ; Huguenots ; Inquisition ; Jews, Attitudes toward ; Jews, Expulsion of (Spain ; Portugal) ; Law ; Lutheranism ; Moriscos, Expulsion of (Spain) ; Reformation, Protestant ; St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre ; Toleration ; Violence ; Wars of Religion, French ; Witchcraft .

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Barry, Jonathan, Marianne Hester, and Gareth Roberts, eds. Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe: Studies in Culture and Belief. Cambridge, U.K., 1996.

Burke, Peter. Popular Culture in Early Modern Europe. Rev. reprint. Aldershot, U.K., and Brookfield, Vt., 1994.

Gregory, Brad S. Salvation at Stake: Christian Martyrdom in Early Modern Europe. Cambridge, Mass., 1999.

Henningsen, Gustav. The Witches' Advocate: Basque Witchcraft and the Spanish Inquisition, 16091614. Reno, Nev., 1980.

Holt, Mack P. The French Wars of Religion, 15621629. Cambridge, U.K., 1995.

Katz, Jacob. Tradition and Crisis: Jewish Society at the End of the Middle Ages. Translated and with an introduction by Bernard Dov Cooperman. New York, 1993.

Peters, Edward. Inquisition. New York, 1988.

Shiels, W. J., ed. Persecution and Toleration. Studies in Church History, no. 21. Oxford, 1984.

Gretchen D. Starr-LeBeau

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Persecution

PERSECUTION

The term "persecution" derives from the vocabulary of religion and was used to describe the torture and torments inflicted on the early Christians martyrs. In everyday usage, it characterizes all relationships in which one party, the persecutor, pursues the other, the persecuted, with malevolent intentions, cruelty, and hatefulness.

In the language of psychopathology, the term "delusions of persecution" has been used to refer to the ideas and feelings described in patients with various diagnoses, including paranoia, schizophrenia, melancholia, and hypochondria. Freud's hypothesis is that a delusion of persecution is the result of a defense against unconscious homosexual impulses.

Described since antiquity, feelings and ideas of persecution were noted in connection with various clinical entities until the second half of the nineteenth century, when new systems of psychiatric classification isolated them into a separate and independent category (Legrand du Saule, 1871). In the early twentieth century, German psychiatry characterized persecution in relation to "paranoia" while French authors dismissed what they called folie raisonnante ; even though it was clear that other pathologies (for example, the paranoid form of dementia praecox) could include this type of delusional thinking.

Today, clinicians tend to recognize the persecution dimension in a number of conditions, including erotomania, delirious hypochondria, or delirious jealousy; these conditions do not actually reach the level of "delusions of persecution" in the strict sense of the term, but all involve essential aspects of the persecutory relationshipprojection, passionate and one-sided attachment, and acting out.

In his commentary on Daniel Paul Schreber's autobiography (1911c), Freud described the mechanism of symptom formation, the underlying unconscious fantasy, and the level of fixation of a persecutory relationship. He saw the onset of the disorder in "sexualization of their social instinctual cathexes" (p. 62) and suggested that these cathexes are the result of inhibition of homosexual tendencies (the erotic component of friendship) arising from the stage when object choice is narcissistic. The unconscious fantasy of the persecutory relationship thus represents the fixation to this homosexual stage of the libido.

Finally, to explain the way that symptoms of persecution develop, Freud suggested the specific mechanism of "projection." The impossibility of accepting "I (a man) love him (a man)" is unconsciously transformed into "I hate him." But this formulation, representing the return of the repressed, cannot become conscious in such form and Freud writes that, "thus the impelling unconscious feeling makes its appearance as though it were the consequence of an external perception. 'I do not love himI hate him, because he persecutes me"' (p. 63).

Delusions of persecution represented Freud's first attempt to identify certain mental pathologies with reference to psychic mechanisms other than repression and the "return of the repressed."

Vassilis Kapsambelis

See also: Act, passage to the; Anxiety; Delusion; Double, the; Helplessness; Internal object; Megalomania; "On the Origin of the 'Influencing Machine' in Schizophrenia"; Paranoia; Paranoid-schizoid position; Privation; "Psycho-Analytic Notes on an Autobiographical Account of a Case of Paranoia (Dementia Paraniodes)"; Psychoses, chronic and delusional.

Bibliography

Freud, Sigmund. (1911c). Psycho-analytic notes on an autobiographical account of a case of paranoia (dementia paranoides). SE, 7: 1-82.

Legrand du Saule, Henri. (1989). Le delire des persecutions. Paris: G. R. E. C.

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Persecution

Persecution. Adherents of virtually all religions have suffered persecution for their faith at some point in their history, and such persecution has generally been held to forge a more resilient faith. Thus the pressure on Muḥammad during the Meccan period made him more determined, so that martyrs (shahīd) became highly favoured and revered in Islam. That ‘the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church’ (see TERTULLIAN) arose as a belief from the early cents. of Christianity, when Christians were sporadically persecuted as a non-conformist minority: there was only formal imperial persecution under the Emperors Decius (250), Valerian (257–8), and Diocletian (304–11). The 20th cent. has seen persecution of Christians on an unprecedented scale—by atheistic communism, by fascism, and by militant Islam in certain countries. See also ANTI-SEMITISM; HOLOCAUST.

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Persecution

501. Persecution

  1. Albigenses medieval sect suppressed by a crusade, wars, and the Inquisition. [Fr. Hist.: NCE, 53]
  2. Camisards uprising of Protestant peasantry after the revocation of Edict of Nantes in 1685 was brutally suppressed by the royal army. [Fr. Hist.: NCE, 434]
  3. Huguenots Protestants of France, much persecuted from the 16th century onward. [Fr. Hist.: NCE, 1285]
  4. Quo Vadis novel of Rome under Nero, describing the imprisonment, crucifixion, and burning of Christians. [Pol. Lit.: Magill I, 797]
  5. Spanish Inquisition harsh tribunal established in 1478 to dispose of heretics, Protestants, and Jews. [Eur. Hist.: Colliers, X, 259]

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persecution

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natation, nation, negation, notation, nutation, oblation, oration, ovation, potation, relation, rogation, rotation, Sarmatian, sedation, Serbo-Croatian, station, taxation, Thracian, vacation, vexation, vocation, zonation •accretion, Capetian, completion, concretion, deletion, depletion, Diocletian, excretion, Grecian, Helvetian, repletion, Rhodesian, secretion, suppletion, Tahitian, venetian •academician, addition, aesthetician (US esthetician), ambition, audition, beautician, clinician, coition, cosmetician, diagnostician, dialectician, dietitian, Domitian, edition, electrician, emission, fission, fruition, Hermitian, ignition, linguistician, logician, magician, mathematician, Mauritian, mechanician, metaphysician, mission, monition, mortician, munition, musician, obstetrician, omission, optician, paediatrician (US pediatrician), patrician, petition, Phoenician, physician, politician, position, rhetorician, sedition, statistician, suspicion, tactician, technician, theoretician, Titian, tuition, volition •addiction, affliction, benediction, constriction, conviction, crucifixion, depiction, dereliction, diction, eviction, fiction, friction, infliction, interdiction, jurisdiction, malediction, restriction, transfixion, valediction •distinction, extinction, intinction •ascription, circumscription, conscription, decryption, description, Egyptian, encryption, inscription, misdescription, prescription, subscription, superscription, transcription •proscription •concoction, decoction •adoption, option •abortion, apportion, caution, contortion, distortion, extortion, portion, proportion, retortion, torsion •auction •absorption, sorption •commotion, devotion, emotion, groschen, Laotian, locomotion, lotion, motion, notion, Nova Scotian, ocean, potion, promotion •ablution, absolution, allocution, attribution, circumlocution, circumvolution, Confucian, constitution, contribution, convolution, counter-revolution, destitution, dilution, diminution, distribution, electrocution, elocution, evolution, execution, institution, interlocution, irresolution, Lilliputian, locution, perlocution, persecution, pollution, prosecution, prostitution, restitution, retribution, Rosicrucian, solution, substitution, volution •cushion • resumption • München •pincushion •Belorussian, Prussian, Russian •abduction, conduction, construction, deduction, destruction, eduction, effluxion, induction, instruction, introduction, misconstruction, obstruction, production, reduction, ruction, seduction, suction, underproduction •avulsion, compulsion, convulsion, emulsion, expulsion, impulsion, propulsion, repulsion, revulsion •assumption, consumption, gumption, presumption •luncheon, scuncheon, truncheon •compunction, conjunction, dysfunction, expunction, function, junction, malfunction, multifunction, unction •abruption, corruption, disruption, eruption, interruption •T-junction • liposuction •animadversion, aspersion, assertion, aversion, Cistercian, coercion, conversion, desertion, disconcertion, dispersion, diversion, emersion, excursion, exertion, extroversion, immersion, incursion, insertion, interspersion, introversion, Persian, perversion, submersion, subversion, tertian, version •excerption

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