Witchcraft in the 16th Century Essay

2032 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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Besides testimony, witches were also identified by midwife's examination. If any black marks were found on the accused's body, the mark was often considered Satan's mark and proof that she was a witch.

 Significance The 16th-century witch hunts resulted in the deaths of nearly 50,000 people. The majority of the accused and sentenced were poor and elderly women who did not have a stable place in society.
It is theorized that the witchcraft hysteria was in response to women's growing role in society. During the 16th century, single, unmarried and independent women represented a societal shift that a large portion of the population was uncomfortable with. The result was genocide and what some have called a holocaust. Society, including women, rejected the notion of unmarried women living alone, without a husband or family, or women who did not go to church and abide by prevailing social norms.

In the 17th century, the presence of witches reached incredible attention with accusations and executions of people accused of witchcraft. The fear caused by these trials and executions spurred many people to become the accuser rather than become the accused. The snowball effect this caused culminated in a mass hysteria in Europe and the colonies. Today, it is speculated that many of the people who were accused and ultimately executed for witchcraft were innocent. History Witchcraft has long been a part of our world's history. Fear of witches eventually
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