Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Other Degree Name/Area of Focus

Art History

Department or School/College

School of Visual and Media Arts

Committee Chair

H. Rafael Chacón, Ph.D.

Committee Co-chair

Julia Galloway, M.F.A.

Commitee Members

H. Rafael Chacón, Ph.D., Julia Galloway, M.F.A., Mark Shogren, M.F.A.


Witch, Witchcraft Pamphlets, Early Modern Era, 1600's, 1700's, Witch Trials


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque Art and Architecture | European History | History of Gender | Literature in English, British Isles | Other Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Political History | Social History | Women's History


The witch hysteria that overtook Christian Europe during the Early Modern era inspired a mass paranoia over the conspiratorial belief that the Abrahamic religion’s personification of the world’s evils, also known as Satan, the Devil, demons, or Lucifer interchangeably, was attempting to rise up and cause harm to Christian communities during this time period. It was believed that in order to achieve this goal the Christian version of the Devil had been recruiting humans within Christian communities and turning these chosen humans into witches by granting them the ability to wield magical powers to spread their destruction, murder, and terror amongst their own neighbors and families. Over the course of the late sixteenth and seventeenth century in England, the impact of the witch hysteria resulted in the publication of illustrated witchcraft pamphlets through London’s printing houses, where news of witch trials would be recounted in detail. When compared against illustrations from other English pamphlets published during this same time period, the witchcraft pamphlets stand out as distinctly different through their portrayal of female witches as caricatures with the heavy visual symbolism representing the believed malicious capabilities that witches possessed against society. A comparison of witchcraft pamphlets against other pamphlets printed in different genres and countries also showcases the hypocrisies in which the witchcraft illustrations that are supposed to be presenting the sins of witches has been tamed down, with the witches always being portrayed as fully clothed despite the text going into detail on the accused sexual perversions of the witches, which indicates the printing houses had taken marketing into account. Likewise depictions of female witches versus male witches in illustrations show the female witches as ugly caricatures wearing lower-class clothing, while male witches are shown wearing garments of a higher class, and holding higher positions in society. These items point to witchcraft hysteria being partly fueled through the lucrative marketability of people’s fear, with the knowledge that an illustration should aim toward a balance of subtle symbolism of the maliciousness of witches so as to not put English readers off from buying the printer’s pamphlets.



© Copyright 2021 Tsea M. Francisconi