Witchcraft Accusations in Nineteenth - and Twentieth - Century Europe
On a popular level, Satan’s identity has always been fragmented into local variations. At times, the Satan of European folklore was a beast quite different from the Satan of the Church. The sharpest break in the traditional teachings about Satan came about with the Enlightenment, rather than the Reformation. Conceptions about Satanists have been present in Western culture practically since the dawn of Christianity. Actual Satanists, in any reasonable sense of the word, have not been around for quite as long. Poets like Charles Baudelaire and visual artists like Felicien Rops emphasized Satan’s connection to sensuality and carnal pleasures, making the figure an important image in some forms of resistance to Christian moralism and asceticism. Heretical Christian sects like the Cathars and Bogomils were unjustly persecuted in the Middle Ages as Satanists, and in the early modern era supposed witches were identified as adherents of Satan and punished accordingly.