The Night Battles. Witchcraft and Agrarian Cults in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. Carlo Ginzburg with a new preface translated by John and Anne C. In The Night Battles, Carlo Ginzburg looks at a small group of northeastern Italian people from the area of Friuli who claimed to be ‘benandanti.’ The benandanti. The Night. Battles. Witchcraft & Agrarian Cults in the Sixteenth & Seventeenth Centuries. Carlo Ginzburg. Translated by John & Anne Tedeschi. On 21 March.

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Based on research in the Inquisitorial archives of Northern Italy, The Night Battles recounts the story of a peasant fertility cult centered on the benandantiliterally, “good walkers. While their bodies slept, the souls of the benandanti were able to fly into the night sky to engage in epic spiritual combat for the good of the village.

Carlo Ginzburg looks at how the Carl officers interpreted these tales to support their world view that the peasants were in fact practicing sorcery.

Night Battles: How the Benandanti Fought Witches During the Sabbath

In his new preface, Ginzburg reflects on the interplay of chance and discovery, as well as on the relationship between anomalous cases and historical generalizations. It is an unusually original contribution to the study of witchcraft in early modern Europe, but its importance is far from being exhausted by that description.

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Top Reviews Most recent Top Reviews. There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. In The Night Battles, Carlo Ginzburg looks at a small group of northeastern Italian people from the area of Friuli who claimed to be ‘benandanti. A second niggt of benandanti claimed to be witness to processions of the dead.

Using a small set of inquisition documents to do his microhistory, Ginzburg claims that he can reconstruct the progression of benandanti identity from their perspective ginzburrg those who battle witches to those who are witches.


This new identity was imposed, according to Ginzburg, by the inquisitors who used leading questions and battlew devices such as fear to convince the accused benandanti into altering their confessions to fit the new model of witchcraft, which can be traced through the confession transcripts.

The book contains four chapters and an appendix with a few of the transcripts included for reference. Chapter one introduces the benandanti, their beliefs, and the inquisitors; chapter two describes the benandanti who associate with the dead and traces possible links of origin; chapter three returns to the benandanti and the inquisitors, and to the evolution of the benandanti identity; and ginburg four sees the conclusion of the benandanti fitting themselves into the accepted mold of witchcraft.

There is no way Ginzburg can battpes, with his available evidence, what the true intentions of the benandanti were when they confessed to witchcraft practices. Was it that they became convinced of their own evil, or simply became indoctrinated out of fear and insistence to change stories to fit what they knew the inquisitors wanted regardless of what they knew to ginzbuurg truth?

There is simply no way to know if the benandanti were only saying what they felt needed to be said, or if they actually accepted it carlp truth. Ginzburg does, unfortunately, make a lot of claims that cannot be substantiated. For example, he tells the story of battlee woman named Anna la Rossa who he ginzhurg never claimed to be a benandanti If anything, Ginzburg is merely reasserting that many different beliefs had origins in the same pagan traditions, or that ideas filtered through geographical space.

In another case, Ginzburg claims that the csrlo during which benandanti left their bodies were ointment induced or caused by illness Again, this is not something cadlo can adequately support and therefore cannot state it as unquestionable. Regardless of this, Ginzburg’s greatest achievements are two.

First, he does a good job in his outlining of the various pagan traditional origins of witchcraft and other cults. Second, he has great success in showing how the inquisitorial process was able to impose beliefs with such effectiveness that people would admit to them even when they knew giving the answer that was desired would surely bring harm to them.

It sheds light on the nature of the witch hunts and trials, and the confessions rendered. In the area of Friuli Italy back during the medieval times there was a group of people properly known as the Banadante.

There work was connected primarily to the agricultural farming seasons. There job was to protect the seeds and the harvest from the witches.

Going to sleep at night lying on their backs there astral bodies would float thorough the air to meet the witches for battle. Armed with fennel sticks the Benadante were ready to defendmean while the witches were armed with Sorghum sticks. Battle would ensue, no one really got killed but there were definite winners and losers. If the witches one it would be a year of famine if the Benadante won then it would be a bountiful year. Sometimes the Benadante ventured into Hell itself to rescue the seeds.


Coming back from battle they would stop I houses and seek refreshment. If cool clear water was a available they slaked their thirst with it and if not then they would raid your basement drin the wine and then urinate in the barrels.

Four times a year they would go out for battle, the ember days. Sometimes they went out every Thursday to do battle.

The Night Battles: Witchcraft & Agrarian Cults in the Sixteenth & Seventeenth Centuries

How does o0ne become a Benadnate, one is born with a caul over their head. They keep the caul and have a priest say mass over it or a blessing. Often times the caul is worn on the person in order for them to participate in the battle. Usually they are summoned by an angel or the captain. The banner for the good guys is a golden flag and a lion. The bad witches had a black flag. They were vowed to silence unless battlles get beaten or killed. Often times they would question them and then let them go.

As time progress ginzbrg were associated more and more with witches and they could end up being imprisoned or tortured. They were often said to have gone to the witches sabbats and partaken in profane rites that blasphemed Christianity.

A total change in attitude. It seems connected with carlk Witches sabbat where in a goddess like Diana in Italy or Hulda or Perchta led a procession of fairies or souls of the dead. At their sabbats they would dance, sing, drink and eat among other things.

The inquisition often made it worse then what it was. Like Margaret Murray had [postulated that cadlo was an ancient pagan religion of Europe that was goddess and agricultural based that prdated Christianity.

These czrlo to be connected. Over all good book. The author does a great job explaining the concepts that even a layman would find it comprehensible and enjoyable. It is filled with case studies that document that change and progression of attitude by the church towards the Benadante. See all 25 reviews. Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers.

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