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Hysterins undantag - En rättslig studie av häxprocessernas tidiga skede

Löfgren, Emilia LU (2016) LAGF03 20161
Department of Law
Faculty of Law
Abstract (Swedish)
Denna uppsats har till syfte att utreda det rättsliga klimatet och se på vilka faktorer som påverkade rättstillämpningen under de svenska häxprocessernas tidiga skede. Den ska även se hur detta tillsammans med myndigheternas agerande påverkade processernas fortsatta spridning.

För att uppnå detta inleds uppsatsen med att ge en överblick över samhället och den gällande rätten vid häxprocessernas utbrott för att därefter redogöra över processernas händelseförlopp och sedan avslutas med en reflekterande del.

När häxprocesserna bröt ut i Älvdalen 1668 skedde detta i ett Sverige med föråldrade lagar och där tron på det övernaturliga var en naturlig del av världsbilden. Tron på det goda och det onda var en självklarhet och rädslan för... (More)
Denna uppsats har till syfte att utreda det rättsliga klimatet och se på vilka faktorer som påverkade rättstillämpningen under de svenska häxprocessernas tidiga skede. Den ska även se hur detta tillsammans med myndigheternas agerande påverkade processernas fortsatta spridning.

För att uppnå detta inleds uppsatsen med att ge en överblick över samhället och den gällande rätten vid häxprocessernas utbrott för att därefter redogöra över processernas händelseförlopp och sedan avslutas med en reflekterande del.

När häxprocesserna bröt ut i Älvdalen 1668 skedde detta i ett Sverige med föråldrade lagar och där tron på det övernaturliga var en naturlig del av världsbilden. Tron på det goda och det onda var en självklarhet och rädslan för djävulens korruption var stark. I gällande rätt stadgades att all trolldom skulle bestraffas med döden, men för en fällande dödsdom krävdes antingen ett erkännande eller två samstämmiga vittnesmål. Häxprocesserna spred sig snart snabbt genom Dalarna som en följd av att de som var anklagade i sin tur anklagade nya personer som de hade sett i Blåkulla.

I takt med spridningen försökte domstolarna, myndigheterna och kyrkan att hantera den växande hysterin. Extra ting tillsattes för att hantera den ständigt växande andelen anklagade och för att få fram erkännanden utsatte tingen majoriteten av alla för tortyr, ett tvångsmedel som egentligen inte fick utdömas av de lägre instanserna. Bland de anklagade och vittnena förekom även många barn och rädslan för att de skulle bli korrumperade av djävulen som var det centrala under processerna. Barnen utgjorde majoriteten av alla vittnesmål, fastän vittnesmål från barn egentligen inte var giltiga i svensk rätt.

Myndigheterna försökte länge stävja hysterin genom att hårt angripa de anklagade häxorna. En speciell kommission tillsattes för att döma på plats i Dalarna och få ett stopp på hysterin. Resultatet blev dock att hysterin förvärrades efter kommissionens avresa. Handfallna uppmanade nu istället myndigheterna till bön. Tingen återföll till gammal praxis där barnen inte fick samma trovärdighet och endast fullgoda frivilliga erkännanden kunde leda till dödsdom. Slutligen började långsamt hysterin i Dalarna att dö ut.

Myndigheternas skarpa agerande för att få ett slut på häxprocesserna i Dalarna kom att få en motsatt effekt. Genom att på olika sätt tillåta undantag såsom barns vittnesmål, tortyr och dödsdomar grundade på ej fullgoda erkännanden i kombination med de extra tingen och kommissionerna ökade endast hysterin. Myndigheternas kraftfulla reagerande blev snarare ett bekräftande på att det ansågs finnas ett stort hot som ständigt växte utom kontroll. Först genom att återgå till en mer återhållsam rättstillämpning och återhållsamt agerande kunde man få ett stopp på hysterin. (Less)
Abstract
This paper aims to investigate the legal environment during period of 1667-1672 and to see which factors influenced the application of law during the Swedish witch trials in their early stages. It will also investigate how these factors, along with the actions of the authorities, affected how the early witch trials spread over the country. To achieve this, the essay begins by giving an overview of the community and the law in force at the outbreak of witch trials. It then goes on to explain the process of the events that followed and is concluded with a section which analyses the information that has been given.

When the Swedish witch trials started to spread in Älvdalen 1668, they began in a society where the supernatural was a natural... (More)
This paper aims to investigate the legal environment during period of 1667-1672 and to see which factors influenced the application of law during the Swedish witch trials in their early stages. It will also investigate how these factors, along with the actions of the authorities, affected how the early witch trials spread over the country. To achieve this, the essay begins by giving an overview of the community and the law in force at the outbreak of witch trials. It then goes on to explain the process of the events that followed and is concluded with a section which analyses the information that has been given.

When the Swedish witch trials started to spread in Älvdalen 1668, they began in a society where the supernatural was a natural part of life. The belief in good and evil was strong, as was the fear of the devil’s corruption. The, at the time, present law stipulated that all uses of witchcraft should be punished by death. The evidentiary requirement for a death sentence was either a full confession, or two coherent testimonies.

The reason why the witch trials spread quickly through Dalarna was mainly because the ones accused of visiting Blåkulla in return would accuse others of the same crime, claiming they had seen them there. As the number of accused constantly kept increasing, the authorities and the church tried to control the growing hysteria. Extra courts were assembled for the ever-growing number of accused.

During the trials it was not uncommon to use torture as an attempt to receive a full confession from the accused. Torture was not normally used by Swedish courts and then only when legislated by the court of appeal.

Many of the witnesses and many of the accused in the trails were children. The fear that they would be corrupted by the devil was central for the trials. They represented the majority of the testimonies against other accused, even though their testimonies normally weren’t valid by law.

In their attempts to end the hysteria, the authorities appointed a special commission that was sent to Dalarna to try and decrease the number of accused. Instead, after after the Commission's departure, the hysteria only spread even more. At a loss of what to do, the authorities encouraged prayers while the courts reverted back into old practises. This, in the end, caused the hysteria in Dalarna to slowly die out.

The authorities’ sharp actions against the witches in Dalarna came to have the opposite effect of what they expected. By, in various ways, making exceptions from the then current law along with special commissions only increased the hysteria instead of ending it. Most likely this was the result since the actions by the authorities confirmed to the people that a great threat truly was present and that it was constantly growing out of control. The hysteria only came to an end when a more restrained way of action was chosen. (Less)
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author
Löfgren, Emilia LU
supervisor
organization
course
LAGF03 20161
year
type
M2 - Bachelor Degree
subject
keywords
rättshistoria, straffrätt, häxprocesser
language
Swedish
id
8874605
date added to LUP
2016-07-04 12:11:44
date last changed
2016-07-04 12:11:44
@misc{8874605,
  abstract     = {This paper aims to investigate the legal environment during period of 1667-1672 and to see which factors influenced the application of law during the Swedish witch trials in their early stages. It will also investigate how these factors, along with the actions of the authorities, affected how the early witch trials spread over the country. To achieve this, the essay begins by giving an overview of the community and the law in force at the outbreak of witch trials. It then goes on to explain the process of the events that followed and is concluded with a section which analyses the information that has been given.

When the Swedish witch trials started to spread in Älvdalen 1668, they began in a society where the supernatural was a natural part of life. The belief in good and evil was strong, as was the fear of the devil’s corruption. The, at the time, present law stipulated that all uses of witchcraft should be punished by death. The evidentiary requirement for a death sentence was either a full confession, or two coherent testimonies. 

The reason why the witch trials spread quickly through Dalarna was mainly because the ones accused of visiting Blåkulla in return would accuse others of the same crime, claiming they had seen them there. As the number of accused constantly kept increasing, the authorities and the church tried to control the growing hysteria. Extra courts were assembled for the ever-growing number of accused. 

During the trials it was not uncommon to use torture as an attempt to receive a full confession from the accused. Torture was not normally used by Swedish courts and then only when legislated by the court of appeal. 

Many of the witnesses and many of the accused in the trails were children. The fear that they would be corrupted by the devil was central for the trials. They represented the majority of the testimonies against other accused, even though their testimonies normally weren’t valid by law. 

In their attempts to end the hysteria, the authorities appointed a special commission that was sent to Dalarna to try and decrease the number of accused. Instead, after after the Commission's departure, the hysteria only spread even more. At a loss of what to do, the authorities encouraged prayers while the courts reverted back into old practises. This, in the end, caused the hysteria in Dalarna to slowly die out.

The authorities’ sharp actions against the witches in Dalarna came to have the opposite effect of what they expected. By, in various ways, making exceptions from the then current law along with special commissions only increased the hysteria instead of ending it. Most likely this was the result since the actions by the authorities confirmed to the people that a great threat truly was present and that it was constantly growing out of control. The hysteria only came to an end when a more restrained way of action was chosen.},
  author       = {Löfgren, Emilia},
  keyword      = {rättshistoria,straffrätt,häxprocesser},
  language     = {swe},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Hysterins undantag - En rättslig studie av häxprocessernas tidiga skede},
  year         = {2016},
}