Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 53.djvu/42

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in the West Indian region, have commonly occurred over perhaps most parts of the earth's surface, only the evidence has not been so fully collected. Such oscillations have greatly affected the migrations of animal and plant life, and have produced changes of climate. These physical changes are in themselves sufficient in a great measure to account for the glacial phenomena of the Pleistocene period.


By Prof. E. P. EVANS.

THE earliest recorded instance of the infliction of the death penalty for witchcraft in Bavaria occurred on June 18, 1090, when the villagers of Völting seized three women suspected of being in league with the devil, dragged them to the neighboring town of Freising, and, after endeavoring in vain to extort from them confessions of guilt by torture, burned them alive on the banks of the Isar. Before being put to death, they were bound hand and foot and thrown into the river, and the fact that they sank and were nearly drowned ought to have been conclusive proof of their innocence, but this result of the superstitious ordeal did not accord with the wishes and fixed purpose of the fanatical mob and was therefore repudiated. In the account of this extraordinary and cruel application of lynch law, contained in the contemporary Annales St. Stephani Frising, and evidently written by a priest of Weihenstephan, the unfortunate women are spoken of as martyrs (martyrizatæ sunt). It is also significant of the attitude of the clergy at that time that the charred remains, after having been collected by relatives, were buried in consecrated ground with religious ceremonies, at which a priest and two monks officiated. Their conduct in this case was perfectly consistent with the views hitherto officially promulgated by the Church. In the Canon Episcopi. adopted by the ecclesiastical council of Ancyra in 900, the belief in witchcraft is expressly declared to be a pagan delusion; and in the so-called "Corrector," issued by Burkhard, Bishop of Worms, about a century later as a guide for confessionalists, a year's penance is imposed upon any one who believes in the nocturnal assemblies and orgies known as the sabbat, or who holds that storms can be produced, property appropriated and destroyed, or the minds of men influenced and their dispositions changed by magic arts and conjurations. Curiously enough, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries papal inquisitors denounced and persecuted as heretics all who did not believe these things. This strange transition from