What caused the Salem witch hunts?
Michael Kimbrough October 3, 2012
The Salem witch trials happen in colonial Massachusetts between 1692 and 1693. More than 200 people were accused of practicing witchcraft. Some of the colony eventually admitted that the trials were a mistake and compensated the families of those convicted. Since then, the story of the trials has become famous with paranoia and injustice, and it continues to be in peoples imagination more than 300 years later.
In the winter of 1692 and 1693 mass hysteria broke out in a small colonial town of Salem village. Family members were being accused, and neighbors were accusing each other of casting spells, corseting with the devil, and being witches. This was only new in America; France, Italy, Germany, and England it has been going on for more than 300 years. Between, 1400-1600, thousands of people were accused and killed for being witches. The reasoning behind the killing was that in the Christian Bible, Exodus 22:18 “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” The early Christian was accepting of all pagan religion, but the Roman Catholic Church saw them as heretics and enemies of the church. In 1231 Pope Gregory IX stared The Inquisition to flush out the heretics, but in 1484 Pope Innocent VIII declared witchcraft heresy, and the punishment was death (http://www.unexplainedstuff.com). The witch hunts were often done by scared and frighten villagers. If you did not like someone or they did something to wrong you, you could accuse them of being a witch. The local government did very little to stop this, but you could not go around accusing people of being a witch, you needed evidence to prove that they were a witch. A book was published in1486 called ‘The Malleus Maleficarum” or “The Witch Hammer” was a guide book to find witches. It gave the definition of witchcraft and the way to trial and judge cases of witchcraft. A few ways the book said that you could tell if the person is a witch...
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