Early European Witchcraft

The Salem Witch Trials


Witches were not local Christian misrepresentations of heretics and pagans but people who supposedly had the ability to use supernatural forces for malevolence. In the period from 1000-1500 impressions of witches ranged from that of generous healer to feared sorcerer or sorceress. In Europe, witchcraft was usually blamed on women. Most ideas about witchcraft included making a pact with the Devil. They believed that women were weaker in their faith and were the targets of the Devil thats why there were more witches that were women.

Witch Hunts

Witchcraft (maleficium) was the infliction of harm with diabolic help. In Europe, witchcraft was usually blamed on women. During the early modern period of European history, from roughly 1450 to 1750, thousands of people, most of them women, were tried for the crime of witchcraft. About half of these individuals were executed, usually by burning. Action against witches was generally taken by the local community when it became convinced that the witch had caused injury or death.


The idea of witchcraft gave people in earlier times a way to explain the unknown and are found in every culture, just in different forms. Malleus Maleficarum meaning Hammer of the witches was a book for basically identifying witches and hunting them down. Books about witches nowadays cause a lot of craze too, just in the younger readers and are also the basis of a lot of movies.


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"Witches and Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe: The Malleus Maleficarum." Witches and Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe: The Malleus Maleficarum. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2013.


Sommerville, J.P. "Witchcraft." Witchcraft. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2013.