Date of Completion

Spring 5-8-2011

Thesis Advisor(s)

Brendan Kane

Honors Major



European History | History | Latin American History | Legal | Political History | Social History


This paper examines the social, cultural, political, and judiciary motivations behind the prosecution of witchcraft in the Spanish Empire between the years of 1492 and 1643. Included as background material are introductions to witchcraft, the history of the Empire, and the behaviors of the Spanish Inquisition. The paper attempts to illustrate the fact that witchcraft prosecution was neither severe nor overly violent in the Empire, and that each of the four major regions of the Empire (Spain proper, the Netherlands, Italy, and the Viceroyalty of Mexico) witnessed a steady and early decline of witchcraft prosecutions, albeit for different reasons. It is the key aim of the paper to determine what these reasons are.