In the 14th, 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries, various commotions which affected the moral sentiments, and the intellectual powers of a considerable number of persons, took place in the principal countries of Europe, in various communities; and signally in the convents of several of the religious orders in France, Spain, and Germany. These disturbances seemed to be of a contagious character, and they prevailed epidemically in particular localities at the same period. The subject is one of deep interest, and not without its salutary teachings and warnings, for fanaticism, fixed ideas, and delusions of all sorts in our own times : though civilization has advanced, and many branches of learning and physical science have made rapid strides of improvement, and dispelled some of the darkest clouds which obscured the intellect and bewildered the reason of vast numbers of people in former ages.


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Phantasmata, Illusions and Fanaticism - RR Madden