This book offers a systematic study of the trials for
superstition in the Spanish Inquisition’s two tribunals in
Valencia and Barcelona in the period 1478-1700. One of the most
intriguing contrasts between the trials in northern and southern
Spain is that while both areas saw a large number of trials for
superstition, Valencia did not conduct trials for demonological
witchcraft. Catalonia, on the other hand, saw a large number of
such trials, the majority of which occurred in secular
These contrasts bring into focus significant differences in
culture and mythology. The Barcelona Inquisition was unable to
enforce its jurisdiction over trials for diabolical witchcraft,
while the Valencian Inquisition was able to do just that because
Valencians rejected the demonological concept of witchcraft. This
was due mainly to the Valencians’ own magical culture which
emphasized man’s ability to control and force demons, but
also to the fact that Moriscos formed the
majority of the rural population, which was the primary focus of
witchcraft trials in Europe. By comparing the Catalan and Valencian
tribunals, the book thus seeks to explain the absence in the
southern half of Spain of brujas, witches who gave
their souls to the devil, flew through the night, took part in wild
orgies at the witches’ sabbat, and caused death and
destruction through magical means.
Note to the Reader
List of Abbreviations
Chapter 1: The Inquisition
Chapter 2: Christians and Muslims
Chapter 3: Overview
Chapter 4: A Plague of Witches
Chapter 5: Courts of Injustice
Chapter 6: Three Case Studies
Chapter 7: A Cautious Inquisition
Chapter 8: Incompatible Cosmologies
Appendix 1: Glossary
Appendix 2: Case Lists
"Knutsen has provided us with a serious, profound, yet concise and detailed, examination of the study of witchcraft in the Iberian Mediterranean area."
(María Jesús Zamora Calvo, in Renaissance Quarterly 64/1, Spring 2011, p. 266)
"The meticulous research work carried out by the author in the inquisitorial archives here translates into a fascinating gallery of characters who give us greater insight into the real culture of a country still overshadowed by the 'black legend'."
(María Tausiet, in The Journal of Ecclesiastical History 62/2, April 2011, p. 390)
"[Knutsen] has given scholars and extraordinarily useful book. [...] His excellent translations of the sources - simultaneously precise and readable - are a highlight of the book."
(Michael A. Ryan, in The Medieval Review, June 2011)
"[...] the reader reaps the benefits of perseverance in both the important insights, gleaned from this work and the sometimes touching, sometimes dramatic but always detailed retellings of the very personal stories which bring the actors to life and make this study enthralling reading."
(Julie Davies, in Parergon 27.2, 2010, p. 244)
"[the author] carefully translates and defines his terms and passages from Latin and medieval Spanish into English making his work accessible to both international scholars and interested advanced undergraduates."
(Wendy J. Turner, in Sixteenth Century Journal Vol. XLIII, No. 3, Fall 2012, p. 776-777)