SammendragGuilty – not guilty? Through various contemporary genres of fiction, a picture of the historical witch as an innocent victim of superior force and the use of brute force is being conveyed to the general public. In recent decades, monuments and memorials have been raised to honour and exonerate who have been executed as witches. But were they all without guilt? The article raises the question of guilt – not seeing it from the vantage point of witchcraft and sorcery legislation at the time in question, but rather, from beliefs and thought systems of the accused as well as convictions and hesitations brought forth by witnesses. In her discussion, the author stresses the complexity involved in efforts to understand and to prove that a certain event has occurred as a result of witchcraft. Here, the popular perception of what constitutes the normal or the abnormal plays an important role. The discussion draws on folk belief systems relating to magic and to essential features of formation and diffusion of rumours having a bearing on suspicion, accusation and verdict.
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