Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Historical Summary Of The European Witch Hunts

Historical  Summary Of The European Witch Hunts Cover The European witch Craze started roughly during conclusion of the 15th century and peaked during the first half of the seventeenth century. The belief that women were sinful and had the power of the devil within them developed out of the Middle Ages. The Reformation further promoted the idea of a satanic kingdom of evil on earth with which to justify persecutions. Theologians sought to prove that accused witches represented the devil.

The first and most significant written cumulative concept of witchcraft available to a large audience was the Malleus Maleficarum written by Sprenger and Kraemer. It was first published in 1486 and reprinted fourteen times before 1520. The document made an important contribution to the widespread witch hunt. Most people accused of witchcraft were rural, poor, and single women. The hunts are often seen as a massive effort to keep women in their place. Women were seen as evil, and unclean people whose weakness could summon the devil for sexual intercourse.

The Malleus Maleficarum document ignited a widespread hunt for the so-called witches described in it. During the hunt, witches were accused of "impractical" and "traceless" crimes such as intercourse with the devil, unregistered babies from hidden pregnancies who were supposedly eaten or sacrificed, and even natural disasters. However there is no record of any solid evidence for any of these accused crimes.

Often these hunts were instigated by hysterical children, or nuns who accused relatives, and neighbors of these outrageous crimes. Witnesses were often bribed or threatened in order to prosecute the accused. The accused would then be tortured until they confessed. The methods of torture were very cruel and painful, and almost all who were put through the various devices would confess. In some cases the accused would die of torture, and very few survived the ordeal without confessing. However, the accused was set free if they survived the torture without a confession. After the forced confession, the trial took place. These trials were run by genuine believers of witchcraft. The aim of the trial was to exterminate the witches as conspirators with the devil. When the accused was declared guilty, they were usually executed.

Although, there are many estimates as to how many actual people were killed during these hunts, most estimates show the number well below the one-million mark. The actual number of documented executions, is generally considered to be under one hundred thousand. Of all that were executed, only a minority were men, and of those men, many are those who tried to protect accused women from the hunters.

Free eBooks (Can Be Downloaded):

Sharynne Nicmacha - The Star Of Life A Historical And Spiritual History Of The Pentagram
Martin Van Buren Perley - A Short History Of The Salem Village Witchcraft Trials
Tuesday Lobsang Rampa - Wisdom Of The Ancients
Michael Bailey - Historical Dictionary Of Witchcraft
Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe - A Historical Account Of The Belief In Witchcraft In Scotland

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