Witch hunts and the Reformation
The formation of the cumulative concept of witchcraft and the various legal developments made the European witch hunt of the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries possible. If these intellectual and legal developments had not occurred, then the hunt would not have taken place, at least in the form and in the magnitude that it did. These preconditions do not, however, provide a complete casual explanation of the hunt. They were, in other words, necessary but not sufficient causes of the process that claimed the lives of thousands of Europeans. In order to achieve a fuller understanding of the hunt we must explore the religious, social and economic conditions that prevailed in Modern Europe. These conditions created an environment in which the hunting of witches was not merely possible but was likely to occur. They encouraged people to believe in witch craft, created tensions that often found expression in witch craft accusations and strengthened the determination of both the ruling elite and the common people to prosecute individuals for this crime.
The Reformation restored the Church to its early Christian purity. In doing so, they denied the efficacy of Indulgences, redefined the function of the sacraments, eliminated or drastically altered the Roman Catholic mass, and changed the role of the clergy.....The period during which all of this reforming activity and conflict took place, the age of the Reformation, spanned the years 1520-1650. These years include the period when the witch hunting was most intense, some historians have claimed that the Reformation served as the mainspring of the entire European witch hunt. [The Witch hunt in Early Modern Europe. Brian Levack Longman P109]
To what extent was the Reformation responsible for the rise in the witch hunt in the 17th Century?