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Salem Witch Trials v. European Witch Hunts
Transcript of Salem Witch Trials v. European Witch Hunts
By Angel Howard
A witch hunt or trial is defined as a search for and subsequent persecution of a supposed witch. Or as a campaign directed against a person or group holding unorthodox or unpopular views.
Witch Hunts / Trials
Witch hunts can be caused for many reasons such as religion, "evidence", and superstitions. (Jones)
Reasons for the Witch Hunts
Today, Witchcraft is a nature-oriented religion. Historically, the word "Witch" simply referred to someone with magickal power. Any magick-user might be called a Witch regardless of their religion. There were Catholic Witches, Protestant Witches, and Pagan Witches. Or When historians talk about Witches, they generally mean "magickal criminals" (people accused of using harmful magick) or diabolists (people accused of worshipping the Christian Devil). "White" Witches are called "simple sorcerers" instead. (Private)
What is a witch?
After the Confession
After they confessed in Salem, they were put in jail for some time. But in Europe they were strangled then burned at the stake. The burning was used to keep the vengeful spirit of the witch from retaking her/his body and terrorizing the village.
How Did they get witches to confess?
In Europe they got witches to confess by torture. 'Thumb screws' and 'leg irons' seem to be the most common forms of torture used on the witches, and they usually resulted in a confession. Other witch tests included the swimming test which was when the accused was tossed into a river with her thumbs tied to her opposite big toes. If she floated, she was guilty; if she sank, she was innocent. Either way she would die! In Salem, on the other hand, there had to be "evidence" such as some one who confessed saying that they saw you and even a group of women in the village that were so called "witched" by them. (Enthusiast)
Who was accused
How long did they last?
In Europe the witch hunts lasted from April 1661-Autumn 1662, to the last legal execution in 1712 of Jane Wenham. But the actual last executions were Anna Göldi who was executed in Glarus, Switzerland, in 1782, and Barbara Zdunk in Prussia in 1811. Both women have been identified as the last people executed for witchcraft in Europe, but in both cases, the official verdict did not mention witchcraft, as this had ceased to be recognized as a criminal offense. In Salem the trials on lasted from June through September of 1692.(Enthusiast)
How many were killed and accused
In Salem more than 200 people were accused of practicing witchcraft—the Devil's magic—and 20 were executed. And one 80 year old man was pressed to death for refusing to testify. In Europe his is an overestimate by a factor of up to 200, for the most reasonable modern estimates suggest perhaps 100,000 trials between 1450 and 1750, with something between 40,000 and 50,000 executions, of which 20 to 25 per cent were men." (Jones)
Years following the death of the "witches"
In Salem after everyone realized what they did wrong they were issued a full pardon and their families compensated. There was a formal apology on behalf of Europe for those killed and their families.
Whose fault was it?
In Salem, part of the fault lies on the land and power hungry people and also on a corrupt judicial system who knew what they were doing to these people. In Europe, they started for many of the same reasons and only stopped because the common folk revolted and the hunts lost the support of the upper class. (Jones)
Approximate statistics on the number of trials for witchcraft and executions in various regions of Europe in the period 1450–1750: Region Number of trials Number of executions
British Isles and North America ~5,000 ~1,500–2,000
Holy Roman Empire (Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Lorraine, Austria including Czech lands - Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia) ~50,000 ~25,000–30,000
France ~3,000 ~1,000
Scandinavia ~5,000 ~1,700–2,000
Eastern Europe (Poland and Lithuania, Hungary and Russia) ~7,000 ~2,000
Southern Europe (Spain, Portugal and Italy) ~10,000 ~1,000
Total: ~80,000 ~35,000 (Lambert)
Department, Education. The Salem Witch Trials of 1692. 2002. 2 October 2014 <http://www.salemwitchmuseum.com/education/index.php>.
Enthusiast, The Tudor. Witchcraft in 16th and 17th century England. 31 October 2012. 2 October 2014 <http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:eU5k2OCbtLsJ:thetudorenthusiast.weebly.com/my-tudor-blog/witchcraft-in-16th-17th-century-england+&cd=6&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=firefox-a>.
Jones, Adam. Case Study: The European Witch- Hunts, c. 1450-1750 and Witch-hunts today. 1999-2002. 2 October 2014 <www.gendercide.org>.
Lambert, Tim. A HISTORY OF THE WITCH TRIALS IN EUROPE. 2012. 2 October 2014 <http://www.localhistories.org/witchtrials.html>.
Private. The Burning Times. 1998. 2 October 2014 <http://www.summerlands.com/crossroads/remembrance/burning.htm>.
Russell, Margaret. the witch craze timeline. 1998-1999. 2 October 2014 <www.thelizlibrary.org/brett/brett008.htm>.
In Salem the main people who were accused were poor people and sometimes a neighbor who they had a problem with. In Europe on the other hand anyone could be accused of Witchcraft. Not even the Pope was safe -- Boniface VIII was accuse. In both the majority were women The majority in Europe of people over all appear to have been Christians, a smaller number were Pagan or Christo-Pagan. Witches were mainly poor. (Department)