WITCHCRAFT TRIALS



In the period from about 1450 to 1750, somewhere around 40,000 to 60,000 individuals were tried as witches and condemned to death in central Europe. Of that number, as high as three-quarters of the victims were women.

Numerous scholars have pointed out that beginning in the fourteenth century, the close of the Middle Ages, the Christian establishment of Europe was forced to deal with an onset of social, economic, and religious changes. It was also during this time (1347–49) that the Black Death, the bubonic plague, nearly decimated the populations of the European nations and greatly encouraged rumors of devil-worshippers who conspired with other heretics, such as Jews and Muslims, to invoke Satan to bring about a pestilence that would destroy Christianity and the West. During most of the Middle Ages, those who practiced the Old Religion and worked with herbs and charms were largely ignored by the church and the Inquisition. After the scourge of the Black Death, witchcraft trials began to increase steadily throughout the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.

The first major witch-hunt occurred in Switzerland in 1427; and in 1428, in Valais, there was a mass burning of 100 witches. In 1486, the infamous "hammer for witches," Malleus Maleficarum, the official textbook for trying and testing witches written by the monks Sprenger and Kramer, was published.


In the early decades of the sixteenth century, when the Protestant Reformation began to restructure nearly all of Europe politically as well as religiously, witches were largely overlooked by the rulers of church and state who now struggled with the larger issues of the great division within Christianity. Then, after a time of relatively little persecution, the period of the great witchcraft craze or hysteria that many practicing witches and students of witchcraft today refer to as the "Burning Times," occurred from about 1550 to 1650.

Although organized witchcraft trials continued to be held throughout Europe and even the English colonies in North America until the late seventeenth century, they were most often civil affairs. About 40 people were executed in the English colonies between 1650 and 1710, and half of these victims perished as a result of the Salem trials of 1692. Persecution of witches and the trials held to punish them had been almost completely abolished in Europe by 1680. One last wave of the witch craze swept over Poland and other eastern European countries in the early eighteenth century, but it had dissipated by 1740. The last legal execution of a witch occurred in 1782 in Glarus, Switzerland—not far from where the witch craze had begun in 1428. The last known witch-burning in Europe took place in Poland in 1793, but it was an illegal act, for witch trials were abolished in that country in 1782.


The Inquisition or the Church itself had little part in any witchcraft trials after the latter part of the seventeenth century, but the Holy Office continued to serve as the instrument by which the papal government regulated church order and doctrine.


DELVING DEEPER

Adler, Margot. "A Time for Truth: Wiccans Struggle with Information that Revises Their History." beliefnet. [Online] http://www.beliefnet.com/story/40/story_4007.html. 25 February 2002.

Gibbons, Jenny. "A New Look at the Great European Witch Hunt" (excerpted from "The Great European Witch Hunt," published in the autumn 1999 issue of PanGaia). beliefnet[Online] http://www.beliefnet.com/story/17/story_1744_1.html. 25 February 2002.

Lea, Henry Charles. The Inquisition of the Middle Ages. New York: Citadel Press, 1963.

Netanyahu, B. The Origins of the Inquisition. New York: Random House, 1995.

Russell, Jeffrey Burton. Witchcraft in the Middle Ages. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1972.

Seligmann, Kurt. The History of Magic. New York: Pantheon Books, 1948.

Trevor-Roper, H. R. The European Witch-Craze. New

York: Harper & Row, 1967.

DELVING DEEPER

"Case Study: The European Witch-Hunts, c. 1450– 1750," Gendercide Watch. [Online] http://www.gendercide.org/case_witchhunts.html.

Faiola, Anthony. "Witchcraft Murders Cast a Gruesome Spell," November 28, 2001. [Online] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A25297-2001Nov27.html. 25 February 2002.

Johnson, R. W. "Mugabe's Men on the Run from Witchcraft," June 2, 2001. [Online] http://www.sunday-times.co.uk.

Notestein, Wallace. A History of Witchcraft in England. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1968.

Russell, Jeffrey Burton. Witchcraft in the Middle Ages. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1972.

Trevor-Roper, H. R. The European Witch-Craze. New York: Harper & Row, 1967.

Summers, Montague. The History of Witchcraft. New York: University Books, 1956.


DELVING DEEPER

"Case Study: The European Witch-Hunts, c. 1450–1750." Gendercide Watch. [Online] http://www.gendercide.org/case_witchhunts.html. 25 February 2002.

Russell, Jeffrey Burton. Witchcraft in the Middle Ages. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1972.

Trevor-Roper, H. R. The European Witch-Craze. New York: Harper & Row, 1967.

Summers, Montague. The History of Witchcraft. New York: University Books, 1956.


DELVING DEEPER

"Case Study: The European Witch-Hunts, c. 1450– 1750." Gendercide Watch. [Online] http://www.gendercide.org/case_witchhunts.html. 25 February 2002.

Russell, Jeffrey Burton. Witchcraft in the Middle Ages. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1972.

Trevor-Roper, H. R. The European Witch-Craze. New York: Harper & Row, 1967.

Summers, Montague. The History of Witchcraft. New York: University Books, 1956.


DELVING DEEPER

Hansen, Chadwick. Witchcraft at Salem. New York: New American Library, 1970.

Noble, Christopher. "Relatives Cheer Bill Clearing Salem Witches." [Online] http://dailynews.yahoo.com/htx/nm/20011102/od/life_witches_dc_1.htm
l. 4 March 2002.

Starkey, Marion L. The Devil in Massachusetts: A Modern Enquiry into the Salem Witch Trials. Garden City, N.Y.: Dolphin/Doubleday, 1961.

"A Village Possessed: A True Story of Witchcraft." Discovery Online. [Online] http://www.discovery.com/stories/history/witches/trials.html. 4 March 2002.


DELVING DEEPER

"Case Study: The European Witch-Hunts, c. 1450– 1750." Gendercide Watch. [Online] http://www.gendercide.org/case_witchhunts.html. 25 February 2002.

Notestein, Wallace. A History of Witchcraft in England. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1968.

Russell, Jeffrey Burton. Witchcraft in the Middle Ages. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1972.

Summers, Montague. The History of Witchcraft. New York: University Books, 1956.

Trevor-Roper, H. R. The European Witch-Craze. New York: Harper & Row, 1967.

DELVING DEEPER

Lea, Henry Charles. The Inquisition of the Middle Ages. New York: Citadel Press, 1963.

Netanyahu, B. The Origins of the Inquisition. New York: Random House, 1995.

Russell, Jeffrey Burton. Witchcraft in the Middle Ages. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1972.

Swain, John. The History of Torture. New York: Award Books, 1969.



User Contributions:

Yessenia
Report this comment as inappropriate
Oct 18, 2007 @ 2:14 pm
In the period from about 1450 to 1750, somewhere around 40,000 to 60,000 individuals were tried as witches and condemned to death in central Europe. Of that number, as high as three-quarters of the victims were women.

Numerous scholars have pointed out that beginning in the fourteenth century, the close of the Middle Ages, the Christian establishment of Europe was forced to deal with an onset of social, economic, and religious changes. It was also during this time (1347–49) that the Black Death, the bubonic plague, nearly decimated the populations of the European nations and greatly encouraged rumors of devil-worshippers who conspired with other heretics, such as Jews and Muslims, to invoke Satan to bring about a pestilence that would destroy Christianity and the West. During most of the Middle Ages, those who practiced the Old Religion and worked with herbs and charms were largely ignored by the church and the Inquisition. After the scourge of the Black Death, witchcraft trials began to increase steadily throughout the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.

The first major witch-hunt occurred in Switzerland in 1427; and in 1428, in Valais, there was a mass burning of 100 witches. In 1486, the infamous "hammer for witches," Malleus Maleficarum, the official textbook for trying and testing witches written by the monks Sprenger and Kramer, was published.
Yessenia
Report this comment as inappropriate
Oct 18, 2007 @ 2:14 pm
In the early decades of the sixteenth century, when the Protestant Reformation began to restructure nearly all of Europe politically as well as religiously, witches were largely overlooked by the rulers of church and state who now struggled with the larger issues of the great division within Christianity. Then, after a time of relatively little persecution, the period of the great witchcraft craze or hysteria that many practicing witches and students of witchcraft today refer to as the "Burning Times," occurred from about 1550 to 1650.

Although organized witchcraft trials continued to be held throughout Europe and even the English colonies in North America until the late seventeenth century, they were most often civil affairs. About 40 people were executed in the English colonies between 1650 and 1710, and half of these victims perished as a result of the Salem trials of 1692. Persecution of witches and the trials held to punish them had been almost completely abolished in Europe by 1680. One last wave of the witch craze swept over Poland and other eastern European countries in the early eighteenth century, but it had dissipated by 1740. The last legal execution of a witch occurred in 1782 in Glarus, Switzerland—not far from where the witch craze had begun in 1428. The last known witch-burning in Europe took place in Poland in 1793, but it was an illegal act, for witch trials were abolished in that country in 1782.



The Inquisition or the Church itself had little part in any witchcraft trials after the latter part of the seventeenth century, but the Holy Office continued to serve as the instrument by which the papal government regulated church order and doctrine.
Report this comment as inappropriate
Dec 26, 2010 @ 11:11 am
A last documentd trial set up by official court took place in Gorzuchowo, wielkopolska, Poland.Some young women were found guilty by a Kiszkowo Court and burnt at the stake. The spot is still called Kus (Hounted). Does anyone have more information on that subject?

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