Witchcraft in the 16th Century Essay

2023 Words Oct 3rd, 2011 9 Pages
The origins of 16th century witchcraft were changing social, economic and religious conditions in Europe and America. The desire to find a scapegoat for the change resulted in a genocide known as the Burning Times that lasted more than a century. 

Witches were accused of casting spells on unfortunate victims and were often sentenced to death by hanging, drowning or by being burned to death.
History of The persecution of people practicing witchcraft in the 16th century began in England in 1589. However, the country's concern with witchcraft had been growing throughout the century, largely in response to the current social, economic and religious conditions in the country. Although people accused of practicing witchcraft had been
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Methods of execution for the crime of witchcraft were mainly burning at the stake and hanging. Torture was often used to gain a confession from the accused. In many cases, the "Malleus Maleficarum" was used in the 17th-century witch-hunts to help magistrates identify, interrogate and condemn people accused of witchcraft, despite the book being banned by the Catholic church in 1490.

 Time Frame In 1641, English law made witchcraft a capital crime. In 1682, Temperance Lloyd was executed, the last person to be executed for witchcraft in England. The executions didn't end there, however. The hysteria moved to a new location in the New World colonies. In 1692, witchcraft accusations reached feverish heights in Salem.

 Effects The effects of witchcraft in the 17th century and the fear and hysteria it caused may never be completely known. It is estimated that from 1500 to 1660, Europe executed between 50,000 to 80,000 suspected witches. During the Salem trials alone, 19 people were hanged and one was pressed to death, while a total of 140 people were accused. In 1957, Massachusetts formally apologized for the trials that took place in Salem.

 Misconceptions Witches have often been depicted as haggard old women with green skin and scraggly hair. One might wonder where this misconception came from. Consider the fact that the people who were accused of witchcraft spent a long period of time incarcerated in less than ideal

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