The witch hunts in Maribor, as in many parts of Europe during the late Middle Ages and early modern period, were likely influenced by a complex interplay of social, religious, and political factors. While specific triggers for the witch hunts in Maribor are not readily available in the sources, we can infer from the broader historical context that several factors may have contributed:

  • Religious Tensions: The period of the witch hunts in Europe, roughly from the 15th to the 17th century, coincided with the Protestant Reformation and the subsequent Counter-Reformation by the Catholic Church. These religious changes led to tensions, fears, and insecurities. Accusations of witchcraft and heresy often arose from such conditions as a way of reaffirming religious orthodoxy and combating perceived threats to the social and religious order.
  • Societal Pressures: Economic and social changes can often breed suspicion and tension. As the Middle Ages transitioned into the Renaissance and then the early modern period, society was transforming rapidly. Urbanization was altering social structures, the Black Plague had devastated populations, and climate change (the Little Ice Age) had led to agricultural failures and famine. In such troubled times, it was common for societies to search for scapegoats, and the accused “witches” often bore the brunt of these societal anxieties.
  • Legal and Intellectual Trends: During this period, legal codification was becoming more common, and centralized judicial systems were taking shape. The idea of witchcraft as a punishable crime was being widely adopted. The intellectual and philosophical trend known as demonology also gained popularity during this period, providing a theoretical basis for the belief in and persecution of witches.