Thursday, July 15, 2010

How Many Died In Great Witches Hunt

How Many Died In Great Witches Hunt Cover "The most dramatic [recent] changes in our vision of the Great Hunt [have] centered on the death toll," notes Jenny Gibbons. She points out that estimates made prior to the mid-1970s, when detailed research into trial records began, "were almost 100% pure speculation." (Gibbons, Recent Developments.) "On the wilder shores of the feminist and witch-cult movements," writes Robin Briggs, "a potent myth has become established, to the effect that 9 million women were burned as witches in Europe; gendercide rather than genocide. [See, e.g., the witch-hunt documentary "The Burning Times".] This 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." Briggs adds that "these figures are chilling enough, but they have to be set in the context of what was probably the harshest period of capital punishments in European history." (Briggs, Witches & Neighbours, p. 8.)

Brian Levack's book The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe arrives at roughly similar conclusions. Levack "surveyed regional studies and found that there were approximately 110,000 witch trials. Levack focused on recorded trials, not executions, because in many cases we have evidence that a trial occurred but no indication of its outcomes. On average, 48% of trials ended in an execution, [and] therefore he estimated 60,000 witches died. This is slightly higher than 48% to reflect the fact that Germany, the center of the persecution, killed more than 48% of its witches." (Gibbons, Recent Developments.)

Nonetheless, in the view of Gendercide Watch, even such a reduced and diffused death-toll should be considered "gendercidal," in that it inflicted mass gender-selective killing on European women. Such killing does not need to be totalizing, either in its ambitions or its impact, to meet the definitions of gendercide and genocide that we use. Indeed, it is arguable that at no other time in European history have adult women been targeted selectively, on such a scale, for torture and annihilation.

Books You Might Enjoy:

Janet Farrar - A Witches Bible The Complete Witches Handbook
Paul Huson - Mastering Witchcraft
Carl Mccolman - The Well Read Witch
Marian Green - A Witch Alone

Popular Posts