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Witchcraft in the 17th Century
Transcript of Witchcraft in the 17th Century
Witchcraft in the 17th Century
Origins and total numbers
Began in the 1500s during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.
It spread from England to all corners of Europe.
Germany had the largest number of "witch trials": 26,000 (most of the "witches" were women, some men)
What people thought witches did and had
Killing young children
Making animals ill
6th finger (ex: Queen Anne Boleyn, second wife of King Henry VIII of England)
Sabbats (nocturnal meetings)
Dancing around a fire (like Aphra in "Year of Wonders")
Raising the dead (like what people thought Anys did when she revived Mem Gowdie)
Very biased trial
The "accused" were tortured in prison
The "accused" stood in the middle of the trial shackled or not
The witnesses faked being bewitched (most of the time) out of hate for the "accused"
The accused was found guilty and was, most of the time, sentenced to execution.
Methods of Torture
- Leg vices
- Scourging (whipping)
- Scalding lime baths
- The rack
- Strappado or Palestinian hanging
Methods of Execution
- Lynching (like Anys Gowdie)
- Burning at the stake (like Joan of Arc 1400s) on charges of heresy. In the Church, fire "can purge someone or send someone to Hell"
- Dunking (like Mem Gowdie) (another example is the "witch scene" from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail"
- Mutilation and beheading
Most people were very paranoid and would do anything to prove that a person was a witch.
They thought healers and midwives were actually witches.
Example: Mem Gowdie and Anys
These "trials" showed the separation of the classes.
Who would the jury believe more, the upper class or the lower class?
Reasons why there were "Witch Trials"
Examples of witches
(mid 17th century) Florence Newton (witch of Youghal), accused of bewitching people into fits and those fits would kill them, no physical torture (surprisingly)
(Last trial) Carrickfergus, two women were accused of witchcraft when they went to church regularly, the two judges disagreed on their innocence, the jury said they were guilty, punishment was a year in prison and appearing 4 times in the stocks
More examples of witches
This took place during the Great Awakening, a time period when people were literally scared back into church. People became very paranoid because in the Bible, there were passages of witches.
For example, in Exodus 22:18, it says, "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live," meaning "You shall not allow a witch to live."
Another example is the Witch of Endor whom King Saul sought out to talk to the Prophet Samuel.
Joan Wytte (1775-1813)
* Fighting Fairy Woman of Bodmin, clairovoyant, seer, diviner, and healer
* Thrown in prison for using "magic" when it was actually physical strength
* Bones discovered and placed on display in a museum
* Poltergeist activity in the museum
Last execution in England was 1682
Last execution in Europe was either in 1782 Switzerland or 1793 Poland.
There was still paranoia that witches existed, but the executions were now outlawed.
The end of the Witch-Hunts