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This article discusses the history of witchcraft in British America. The fear of witches was embedded within the culture which English migrants brought with them as they crossed the Atlantic to settle in North America, and so it is not surprising that witch-hunting became a part of the colonial experience.

Over sixty trials for witchcraft took place in seventeenth-century New England, omitting the infamous Salem witch-hunt of , which resulted in over formal charges. Accusations of witchcraft occurred throughout the British colonies, but there were far fewer prosecutions in the middle and southern colonies than in New England.

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Witch Hunts in Europe and America: An Encyclopedia

This article discusses the history of witchcraft in British America. The fear of witches was embedded within the culture which English migrants brought with them as they crossed the Atlantic to settle in North America, and so it is not surprising that witch-hunting became a part of the colonial experience. Over sixty trials for witchcraft took place in seventeenth-century New England, omitting the infamous Salem witch-hunt of , which resulted in over formal charges. Accusations of witchcraft occurred throughout the British colonies, but there were far fewer prosecutions in the middle and southern colonies than in New England. Keywords: witchcraft prosecutions , British colonies , witchcraft , English migrants , witch trials , New England. Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Witch Hunts in the Western World

Throughout the medieval era, mainstream Christian doctrine had denied the existence of witches and witchcraft, condemning it as pagan superstition. In , a papal bull by Gregory IX established a new branch of the inquisition in Toulouse, France, to be led by the Dominicans. It was intended to prosecute Christian groups considered heretical, such as the Cathars and the Waldensians. Records were usually kept by the French inquisitors but the majority of these did not survive, and one historian working in , Charles Molinier, refers to the surviving records as only scanty debris.

A witch-hunt , or a witch purge , is a search for people who have been labeled witches or a search for evidence of witchcraft. In other regions, like Africa and Asia , contemporary witch-hunts have been reported from sub-Saharan Africa and Papua New Guinea , and official legislation against witchcraft is still found in Saudi Arabia and Cameroon today. In current language, "witch-hunt" metaphorically means an investigation that is usually conducted with much publicity, supposedly to uncover subversive activity, disloyalty, and so on, but with the real purpose of intimidating political opponents. The wide distribution of the practice of witch-hunts in geographically and culturally separated societies Europe, Africa, New Guinea since the s has triggered interest in the anthropological background of this behaviour.

In the late s the Salem Village community in the Massachusetts Bay Colony now Danvers, Massachusetts was fairly small and undergoing a period of turmoil with little political guidance. After some young girls of the village two of them relatives of Parris started demonstrating strange behaviours and fits, they were urged to identify the person who had bewitched them. Their initial accusations gave way to trials, hysteria, and a frenzy that resulted in further accusations, often between the differing factions. By the end of the Salem witch trials, 19 people had been hanged and 5 others had died in custody. Additionally, a man was pressed beneath heavy stones until he died.

Throughout the medieval era, mainstream Christian doctrine had denied the existence of witches and witchcraft, condemning it as pagan superstition.

From early sorcery trials of the 14th century-associated primarily with French and Papal courts-to the witch executions of the late 18th century, this book's entries cover witch-hunting in individual countries, major witch trials from Chelmsford, England, to Salem, Massachusetts, and significant individuals from famous witches to the devout persecutors. Entries such as the evil eye, familiars, and witch-finders cover specific aspects of the witch-hunting process, while entries on writers and modern interpretations provide insight into the current thinking on early modern witch hunts. From the wicked witch of children's stories to Halloween and present-day Wiccan groups, witches and witchcraft still fascinate observers of Western culture.

This comprehensive resource explores the intersection of religion, politics, and the supernatural that spawned the notorious witch hunts in Europe and the New World. Witch Hunts in the Western World: Persecution and Punishment from the Inquisition through the Salem Trials traces the evolution of western attitudes towards magic, demons, and religious nonconformity from the Roman Empire through the Age of Enlightenment, placing these chilling events into a wider social and historical context. Witch hunts are discussed in eight narrative chapters by region, highlighting the cultural differences of the people who incited them as well as the key reforms, social upheavals, and intellectual debates that shaped European thought. Vivid accounts of trials and excerpts from the writings of both witch hunters and defenders throughout the Holy Roman Empire, France, the British Isles and colonies, Southern Europe, Scandinavia, and Eastern Europe bring to life one of the most intriguing and shocking periods in Western history. This in-depth and comprehensive resource explores the intersection of religion, politics, and the supernatural that spawned the notorious witch hunts in Europe and the New World.

The Malleus Maleficarum , [2] usually translated as the Hammer of Witches , [3] [a] is the best known treatise on witchcraft. The Malleus elevates sorcery to the criminal status of heresy and recommends that secular courts prosecute it as such. The Malleus suggests torture to effectively obtain confessions and the death penalty as the only certain remedy against the evils of witchcraft. The book had a strong influence on culture for several centuries. Jacob Sprenger 's name was added as an author beginning in , 33 years after the book's first publication and 24 years after Sprenger's death; [25] but the veracity of this late addition has been questioned by many historians for various reasons.

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