Witchcraft Essay

1050 words - 4 pages

Beginning in the Middle Ages and through the seventeenth centuries, an infiltration of witchcraft persevered throughout Europe. The witch craze resulted in the torture and persecution of witches. More than 100,000 of witches who were tried were centered in the area of southwestern Europe. The mass hysteria of witches was denounced because of their rejection of God and their pact with the devil, which resulted in harsh punishments and accusations. One reason for the persecution of witches was they were thought to be the cause of bad harvests, epidemics, natural disasters, and personal tragedies. Witches also had a part in the religious aspect of Europe. The witches were persecuted because of the lack of a main religion, which was significant to life during the Protestant and Catholic Reformations. At this time of the witch phenomena, Europe was in a state of instability and people in Europe looked to benefit from the persecution of witches in the form of goods and money. The persecution of individuals as witches in Europe was mainly a repercussion of economic circumstances, strong religious beliefs, and prejudices of the people.
The economic scene at the time of the witch craze was very apparent during the period between 1480-1700. During this period Europe was in a state of instability, therefore money, and exploration was important to many. An eyewitness to persecutions, canon Linden of Trier, Germany states that people used the trials for economic enhancement. Linden wrote that the executioner made the most money and describes it “like a noble of the court”(Document A2). This is evidence that high ranked people or people in office were into the witch trials for their economic greed and desire for goods. Mayor of Bamberg, Germany, Johannes Junius was targeted and imprisoned, because of his social standings, which resulted in him to lie to escape further torturing. (Document A7). Roger North, brother of Chief Justice Exeter explains that if a judge were to go against the public opinion, then the townspeople would think he is not religious and would then possibly be accused. (Document A6) This is an indication that people of all social classes could be targets.
In Europe it can be concluded that many had xenophobia of different people or prejudices, but they were held mostly against older women. This is because during the Renaissance people had fears of the supernatural and forces of nature or God, which led to the beliefs of superstition. Therefore, the future mass hysteria of witches would be denounced based on the Renaissance views. In the Middle Ages to the 16th century it can be finalized that the elderly, female, and poor working class were the majority of the accused (Documents D1, 2,3). Statistics drawn from the contemporary court records conclude that most of the suspected witches were above the age of 50 and 80% of females were executed for witchcraft. The trials of witches were centered in southwestern Europe because these...

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