Medieval people in Europe were a superstitious lot. As unexplained phenomena appeared in the skies, and plague, famine and other calamities befell them, they looked for explanations from the Church. A belief in witchcraft and sorcery flourished as a result. You might wonder what would cause such panic-stricken beliefs among masses of people. It would be wrong to say medieval people acted without reason; within their realm of understanding, they remained unaware of certain scientific concepts we take for granted today. Altered perspectives allowed the birth of the Renaissance and the Age of Enlightenment later in society, but for most of the medieval period, whenever tragedy took hold, many blamed witches. Views about the potency of witchcraft and sorcery extended into later periods evidenced by the hysteria of the Salem witch trials in the late 17th century.
All images from Wikimedia - Creative Commons attribution license. Quotes of the Malleus Maleficarum take from http://www.malleusmaleficarum.org/.
Lisa J. Yarde writes fiction inspired by the medieval period. She is the author of historical novels set in medieval England and Normandy, The Burning Candle, based on the life of Isabel de Vermandois, and On Falcon's Wings, chronicling the star-crossed romance between Norman and Saxon lovers. Lisa has also written three novels in a six-part series set in Moorish Spain, Sultana, Sultana’s Legacy and Sultana: Two Sisters, where rivalries and ambitions threaten the fragile bonds between members of a powerful family.