2008 年 117 巻 3 号 p. 350-373
Witch hunts in early modern Europe have been traditionally interpreted as a process of social control by elites, but recent studies have shown how the masses autonomously interacted in persecuting witchcraft. This article focuses on the role of rural "committees (Ausschuss)" in organizing witchcraft persecution at the end of the 16th century, in order to analyze the relationships among the ecclesiastical Elector of Trier, local government officials and the peasantry. At the end of 16th century, a time when witchcraft persecution was rampant in Germany, the so-called "counter-reformation" was already underway within the Prince-Archbishopric of Trier, and it was also a time when the Elector of Trier was trying to establish a centralized judicial system, under which the judicial powers of local communities were gradually eliminated and jurisdiction transferred into the hands of government officials appointed the Elector. Traditional local trial judges were absorbed into the new judicial system ; however, local government administrators remained strongly tied to their communities, while the Elector tended to conduct trials at the requests of village communities. On the other hand, special village committees would be elected by general meetings of the communities, despite a prohibition on such action by the Elector, to take charges of dealing with suspected witches, bringing charges, guaranteeing the trial costs, finding witnesses, taking custody of the defendants, etc. Although such actions infringed on the judicial authority of Electorappointed government officials, local officials permitted such activity, exploiting Ausschuss as a kind of subordinate agency. The author argues that the Ausschuss took the form of a new judicial body in the community by its close collaboration with local officials. At the same time, however, Ausschuss members were able to utilize internal village disputes to their advantage by bringing persons of seniority and higher class up on charges of witchcraft. In other words, Ausschuss ironically not only represented the community, but was also a source of inner conflict within it. Such a contradictory situation shows how local communities dealt with an early modern criminal justice system and changes going on in their traditional customs.