Get Off My Lawn

I can't tell if he's laughing or crying.

Amending History

“He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.” — George Orwell

Maria Bertoletti Toldini was tried and convicted of witchcraft in 1716 in the Italian village of Brentonico. Now, 300 years later, she is getting a retrial. Maria was a childless widow who had a dispute with family members over an inheritance. She was in a vulnerable societal position, so her relatives took advantage and accused her of witchcraft. She was beheaded and her body burned.

Whitch Trial 1

There are people now who have taken up Maria’s cause and have worked to clear her name. Some in the town think a trial is a waste of resources, but, as reported in The Guardian, local culture minister Quinto Canali believes “the effort–which he says will involve a real judge in a real court of appeals who will be familiar with the laws of the time–is an attempt to come to grips with a brutal period in European history and strip it of its folkloric romanticism.”

I applaud this effort because it’s an attempt to correct an historical wrong. While this official admission of injustice can do nothing to change the past, it can reshape the perception of that past through an enlightened view of the world that condemns a past fraught with fear, ignorance, cruelty, and the tyranny of the majority.

I find this to be particularly important to women. A careful study of the past allows all of us to reinforce our diligence in not slipping backwards in a quest for justice and equality. And with the rise of religious fundamentalism in many parts of the globe, and with that a belief that women possess a strain of evil, this is more important now than ever.


Categories: Non-Fiction

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33 replies

  1. I agree. The chance to correct the historical–and horrific–wrong is important for the reasons you cite. What a cruel species we can be.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. it can reshape the perception of that past through an enlightened view of the world that condemns a past fraught with fear, ignorance, cruelty, and the tyranny of the majority.

    Very nicely said

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Wow, her relatives no less. Tragic story and I too applaud the effort.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I was thinking of the Salem witch trials…I wonder ??

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve been to Salem and saw a reinactment of the trials. It was many years ago but as I recall they handled it with some dignity. I think it would be a good thing if this trial was revisited and maybe some official apology given.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. History has been so hard on women

    Liked by 1 person

  6. History, hysteria, hysterectomy…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Nice perspective on this, John. I hadn’t thought of the misogynistic angle. And to the other comment, I think yes, the word “hysterical” has misogynistic origins — as in, only women behave that way. There are probably many more such words we’re unaware of.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great post, John. I’m glad to see you posting more 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I’m concerned, though, about the judge being familiar with the laws of the time period. Won’t the result be the same if the law back then was “All women are guilty until proven dead”?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Yes, incredibly crazy stuff happened, and still happens. I’m way behind in your posts! My teaching day job is getting in the way…..for real 😃. As always, I love your writing and your topics. I will catch up this weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

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