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HIST215 Heretics, Witches, and Inquisitors

An examination of heretical movements and their persecution as well as witch-hunt in medieval and early modern Europe (1100-1700) in the religious, social, political and intellectual contexts.

This paper examines the rise and development of persecution in European society from the 12th century to the 17th century. While this paper surveys various types of heretical movements and their suppression in the Middle Ages and the witch-hunt in the early modern period, it also explores the legal and theological contexts that shaped the idea of heresy and inquisition and the intellectual contexts of witch-hunts, such as the conceptions of magic and demonology.

The aim of the paper is, thus, to understand how and why a social, legal and religious system of persecution emerged and expanded in late medieval and early modern Europe.

Paper title Heretics, Witches, and Inquisitors
Paper code HIST215
Subject History
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Not offered in 2023 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $955.05
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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One 100-level HIST paper or 54 points
Schedule C
Arts and Music

Professor Takashi Shogimen -

Teaching staff

Co-ordinator and Lecturer: Professor Takashi Shogimen



Malcolm Lambert, Medieval Heresy, third ed. (Oxford, 2002).

Brian P. Levack, The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe, fourth ed. (Routledge, 2015).

In addition, course materials will be made available electronically.

Course outline

Available via Blackboard.

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Interdisciplinary perspective, Communication, Critical thinking.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete this paper will:

  • Gain an historical understanding of how and why a social, legal and religious system of persecution emerged and expanded in late medieval and early modern Europe
  • Learn how to engage critically with secondary literature and assess diverse historical interpretations from interdisciplinary perspectives

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Not offered in 2023

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system