The Witch, the Sorcerer and the Inquisition

Date: Mar 1, 2023 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Location: Online

Event Code: I124323

Areas of Law:

Earn up to 2.4 credits! (More Information)




Dana M. Van Leuven, Esq.
NJICLE, New Brunswick


Jamal Allen, Esq.
National Labor Relations Board
Kimberly J. Duplechain, Esq.
Littler Mendelson, Washington
Tammy Lynn Farmer, Esq.
National Labor Relations Board
Pablo Godoy, Esq.
National Labor Relations Board, Washington
Lauren McFerran, Esq.
National Labor Relations Board, Washington
David M. Prouty, Esq.
National Labor Relations Board, Washington
James Justin Sledge, Ph.D.
James Justin Sledge, Ph.D.

During an outbreak of heresy in Southern France in the early 13th century the medieval church established a system of investigative tribunals it called "Inquisition." The Inquisition, itself relying on a shift from trial by ordeal to trial by evidence, would grow from a regional body to a European-wide institution by which heterodoxy would be diagnosed and prosecuted.

At the same time, jurists, philosophers and theologians were coming to the conclusion that a new heresy had appeared all across Europe. They held that a new woman-led, heretical sorcery sect had emerged marked by entering into a pact or covenant with the devil and apostacy from Christianity. This pact included sexual relations with the devil and demons and aerial flight for the purpose of attending an assembly presided over by Satan himself. The assembly was followed by incestuous and promiscuous sex, the practice of maleficent magic, the slaughter of fetuses and babies and various means for preventing human procreation, all of which aimed at undermining Christendom as part of the devil’s ongoing war with God.

In fact, by the mid-15th century the theory took on positively apocalyptic dimensions by arguing that the new witch heresy was the final attempt on the part of Satan to forestall his impending doom by sending human beings down a spiral of sin and crime as a final outrage to God. Regardless, the elaborated theory of witchcraft, while it varied from region to region or writer to writer, had more or less coalesced by around 1500 and thus set the stage for the frenzied persecutions which would follow, resulting in the deaths of around 40-60,000 people, mostly women, in the period up to around 1750. Indeed, the early modern European witch trials were truly an international effort with trials stretching from Iceland to Moscow. But how did this happen?

Hear Dr. Justin Sledge, an expert in the history of the occult, discuss:

• The origins and practices of the Inquisition
• The role of torture in Inquisitional jurisprudence
• What was constitutive of evidence for the Inquisition
• The nature of magic and sorcery in medieval law
• The central legal/theological demonological theoreticians
• The central Inquisition and witch hunting literature
• How the sin of sorcery became the heresy of witchcraft
• The important role of appellate courts in the witch trials
• How regional varying in jurisprudence effected execution rates
• The role of witch skepticism in bringing the hunts to an end
• How modern jurisprudence emerged from the witch trials

CLE Credits
NJ CLE:NJ CLE information: This program has been approved by the Board on Continuing Legal Education of the Supreme Court of New Jersey for 2.4 hours of total CLE credit (Full Credits Available: NJ General: 2.4).
NY CLE (t&nt):NY Professional Practice Transitional: 2.0
PA CLE:PA Substantive Credit: 2.0
$8.00 fee – separate check payable to NJICLE must be submitted at the end of the program


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