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The Night Battles: Witchcraft and Agrarian Cults in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries Paperback – October 1, 2013
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"A work of genuine intellectual distinction. It is an unusually original contribution to the study of witchcraft in early modern Europe, but its importance is far from being exhausted by that description."(Peter Burke New York Review of Books)
"A tour-de-force of reconstruction, building out of scattered and fragmentary sources a whole world for the reader to inhabit."(Anthony Pagden London Review of Books)
About the Author
Carlo Ginzburg has taught at the University of Bologna, the University of California, Los Angeles, and the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa. The recipent of the 2010 International Balzan Prize, he is author of The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller and Clues, Myths, and the Historical Method, also published by Johns Hopkins.
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How does o0ne become a Benadnate, one is born with a caul over their head. They keep the caul and have a priest say mass over it or a blessing. Often times the caul is worn on the person in order for them to participate in the battle. One is usually summoned in their early 20’s and their service ends when they are forty or whenever they are inclined to leave the service. Usually they are summoned by an angel or the captain . The banner for the good guys is a golden flag and a lion. The bad witches had a black flag.The bendnantes sometimes knew who each other were and who the witches were at other times they didn’t. They were vowed to silence unless they get beaten or killed.
The Inquisition by the Catholic church which was started to route out heretics and witches took a lenient view toward the Benandante during the 1300’s . Often times they would question them and then let them go. As time progress they were associated more and more with witches and they could end up being imprisoned or tortured. They were often said to have gone to the witches sabbats and partaken in profane rites that blasphemed Christianity. A total change in attitude.
It seems connected with the Witches sabbat where in a goddess like Diana in Italy or Hulda or Perchta led a procession of fairies or souls of the dead. At their sabbats they would dance, sing, drink and eat among other things. The inquisition often made it worse then what it was. Like Margaret Murray had [postulated that therer was an ancient pagan religion of Europe that was goddess and agricultural based that prdated Christianity. These seemed to be connected.
Over all good book. The author does a great job explaining the concepts that even a layman would find it comprehensible and enjoyable. It is filled with case studies that document that change and progression of attitude by the church towards the Benadante. It get’s a bit over kill at the end with the appendices but then again this is a scholarly book.Gret book