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In contrast to this low magic was the high magic practiced by learned men of the Renaissance.
Advocated by the likes of Marsilio Ficino and Pico della Mirandola, this Renaissance high magic was influenced by ancient philosophies like Neoplatonism and Hermeticism and was theoretically complex, seeing the practice of magic as part of a wider spiritual system.
Around the year 1000, when there were increasing fears that the end of the world would soon come in Christendom, the idea of the Devil had become prominent, with many believing that his activities on Earth would soon begin appearing.
Whilst in earlier centuries there had been no set depiction of the Devil, it was also around this time that he began to develop the stereotypical image of being animal-like, or even in some cases an animal himself.
had been developing during the previous centuries, with the prosecution of heresy by the Medieval Inquisition during the late twelfth and the thirteenth centuries, and during the Late Medieval period, during which the idea of witchcraft or sorcery gradually changed and adapted.
The inquisition had the office of protecting Christian against the "internal" threat of heresy (as opposed to "external" military threats such as those of the Vikings, the Mongols, and the Saracens or Turks).
As Renaissance occultism gained traction among the educated classes, the belief in witchcraft, which in the medieval period had been part of the folk religion of the uneducated rural population, was incorporated into an increasingly comprehensive theology of Satan as the ultimate source of all maleficium.Though some of the earliest trials are from the Late Medieval period following Pope Innocent VIII's issue of the Summis desiderantes affectibus, which recognized the existence of witches and gave full papal approval for the inquisition to move against witches, the peak of witch hunting was during the European wars of religion, climaxing from 1580 to 1630.The witch hunts declined in the early 18th century, culminating with the British Witchcraft Act of 1735, but there were sporadic witch-trials during the second half of the 18th century, the last known dating to 1782 An estimated total of 40,000-60,000 people were executed during the witch trials.Historians like Carlo Ginzburg and Éva Pócs have suggested that various beliefs pertaining to magic and witchcraft in Early Modern Europe represented a survival of shamanistic pre-Christian beliefs about visionary journeys.It was also during the Medieval period that the concept of Satan, the Biblical Devil, began to develop into a more threatening form in the minds of people than earlier.