Throughout history Witches were accused of hanis crimes. From casting evil spells to killing virgins during sacrificial offerings.
"Did good people, innocent people really hang because a few girls claimed to see witches specters?"
As the painting above shows, no cause was recongnized for such a fearful and unknown practise. Church officials did everything to make sure that those who were different and didnt attend church were punished to the extreme.
One of the most famous witch trials happened in Salem, Massachusetts. Observe this senario:
A small girl fell sick in 1692. Her "fitts"convulsions, contortions, and outbursts of gibberish baffled everyone. Other girls soon manifested the same symptoms. Their doctor could suggest but one cause. Witchcraft.
That grim diagnosis launched a Puritan inquisition that took 25 lives and filled prisons with innocent people.
Zealously obedient to this admonishment from the apostle Peter, the Puritans of New England scoured their souls and those of their neighbors for even the faintest stains. These stern, godly folk were ready to stare down that roaring lion till Judgment Day saw him vanquished.
But, while the good people of Salem had their eyes on eternity, the lion walked softly among them during the 1670s and 1680s. Salem was divided into a prosperous town second only to Boston and a farming village. The two bickered again and again. The villagers, in turn, were split into factions that fiercely debated whether to seek ecclesiastical and political independence from the town.
In 1689 the villagers won the right to establish their own church and chose the Reverend Samuel Parris, a former merchant, as their minister. His rigid ways and seemingly boundless demands for compensation including personal title to the village parsonage increased the friction. Many villagers vowed to drive Parris out, and they stopped contributing to his salary in October 1691.
Seeking release from the tension choking their family, Parris's nine-year-old daughter, Betty, and her cousin Abigail Williams delighted in the mesmerizing tales spun by Tituba, a slave from Barbados. The girls invited several friends to share this delicious, forbidden diversion. Tituba's audience listened intently as she talked of telling the future.
The lion roared in February 1692. Betty Parris began having "fitts" that defied all explanation. So did Abigail Williams and the girls' friend Ann Putnam. Doctors and ministers watched in horror as the girls contorted themselves, cowered under chairs, and shouted nonsense. The girls' agonies "could not possibly be dissembled," declared the Reverend Cotton Mather, one of the brightest stars in the Massachusetts sky.
Lacking a natural explanation, the Puritans turned to the supernatural the girls were bewitched. Prodded by Parris and others, they named their tormentors: a disheveled beggar named Sarah Good, the elderly Sarah Osburn, and Tituba herself. Each woman was something of a misfit. Osburn claimed innocence. Good did likewise but fingered Osburn. Tituba, recollection refreshed by Parris's lash, confessed and then some.
"The devil came to me and bid me serve him," she reported in March 1692. Villagers sat spellbound as Tituba spoke of black dogs, red cats, yellow birds, and a white-haired man who made her sign the devil's book. There were several undiscovered witches, she said, and they yearned to destroy the Puritans. Finding witches became a crusade not only for Salem but all Massachusetts. Before long the crusade turned into a extinction, and the witch-hunters ultimately proved far more deadly than their prey.
There were many people why were involved in this upheaval. Some of them mealry pawns nd others who were killed.
Below is their story:
A former merchant, the Reverend Samuel Parris became the minister at Salem Village in 1689. His stern bearing and harsh sermons deepened the rifts that had already cleaved his flock. Parris's own home was the stage for the witch-hunt that erupted in 1692; several of his relatives and close supporters were the leading accusers. Even after the hysteria subsided in 1693, Parris remained controversial. His reluctance to admit any errors salted his congregation's wounds, and he was pressured to leave several years later.
A slave from Barbados, Tituba kept house for the Reverend Samuel Parris and his family. She reportedly entertained Parris's daughter and niece with forbidden stories of magic and fortune-telling. When the girls later named Tituba as a witch, her vivid confession helped spark hysteria. She remained in jail till 1693, when she was sold to a new master.
A close friend of the afflicted girls in the Parris household, 12-year-old Ann Putnam soon manifested the same ailments and emerged as the "star" witness, testifying against more accused witches than anyone else. Sorrow clouded Putnam's life after the witch-hunt. Her parents died young, and she struggled alone to rear her siblings. In 1706 she publicly repented her role in the hysteria: "It was a great delusion of Satan that deceived me in that sad time."
Samuel Parris's 11-year-old niece quickly caught the afflictionand attentionthat had settled on her young cousin, Betty Parris. Williams apparently reveled in the spotlight, disturbing services at the village meetinghouse and eagerly accusing unlikely neighbors. Little is known about her life after the witch-hunt. Historians believe she died young, never having recovered from her "affliction."
A 20-year-old servant, Mary Warren initially joined the afflicted girls in naming witches but soon had second thoughts. The apparent cause: an accusation against John and Elizabeth Procter, for whom Warren worked. She testified on their behalf, only to become a suspect herself. Terrified, Warren rejoined the accusers.
Bridget Bishop was an outcast. She flouted Puritan mores and had been accused of witchcraft some years before the 1692 witch-hunt. Her history made her an easy target, and she was the first "witch" to be tried, condemned, and executed. Bishop was hanged on June 10, 1692.
Devoutly religious, Martha Cory belonged to Salem Village's churchgoing elite. She was one of the few entitled to take communion and she was critical of the witch-hunt. She was accused of witchcraft in March 1692 and hanged on September 22. Her condemnation showed that anyonenot only an outcast was vulnerable.
Respected churchgoer and matriarch, Rebecca Nurse was the only accused witch to be found not guilty. More than 40 friends and neighbors had testified to her faith and good character. The verdict, however, sparked such a terrifying outcry from the accusers that the chief judge ordered the jury to reconsider. They then found Nurse guilty, and she was hanged on July 19, 1692.
A sister of Rebecca Nurse, Mary Esty was also a devout Puritan. When accused of witchcraft, she disputed the charges with such convincing vigor that the afflicted girls eventually relented. Esty was releaseda rarity in the witch-hunt. Before long, however, the afflicted girls claimed to see her specter again. She was arrested anew, convicted, and hanged on September 22, 1692.
The Reverend Nicholas Noyes served as minister in Salem Town. Described as a portly bachelor with a strong personality, Noyes was zealous to root out evil in his congregation. Once the ferment ended, however, he quickly repented his part in it and strove to reconcile his fragmented congregation.
A cantankerous old man, Giles Cory feuded regularly with his neighbors. He testified against his own accused wife, though he may not have realized the effect of what he was saying. Cory was then accused himself and confounded the authorities by refusing to enter a plea at his trial. The magistrates resorted to a traditional English penaltypressing. They laid heavy stones atop Cory until, two days later, he died.
Salem's time to kill made all the more tragic for its theological roots claimed 25 lives. Nineteen "witches" were hanged at Gallows Hill in 1692, and one defendant, Giles Cory, was tortured to death for refusing to enter a plea at his trial. Five others, including an infant, died in prison.
Each of the four rounds of executions deepened the dismay of many of the New Englanders who watched the witchcraft hysteria run its course. On October 3, 1692, the Reverend Increase Mather, president of Harvard College, denounced the use of so-called spectral evidence. "It were better," Mather admonished his fellow ministers (including his son Cotton), "that ten suspected witches should escape than one innocent person should be condemned."
Gov. William Phips grew disgusted when his own wife was mentioned by the afflicted girls. Determined at last to quell the madness, he suspended the special Court of Oyer and Terminer he had earlier established to hear witchcraft cases. He replaced it with a new Superior Court of Judicature which disallowed spectral evidence. That court condemned only 3 of 56 defendants. Phips pardoned them along with five others awaiting execution.
In May 1693 Phips pardoned all those who were still in prison on witchcraft charges. They were free provided they could pay their jail bills.
The time to heal fell under the gentle hand of the Reverend Joseph Green, who in 1697 succeeded Samuel Parris as minister in Salem Village. Green reshuffled his congregation's traditional seating plan, placing foes beside one another. As he had hoped, proximity bred charity. At Green's urging, Ann Putnam, one of the leading accusers, offered a public apology in 1706.
Massachusetts as a whole repented the Salem witch-hunt in stages. The colony observed a day of atonement in 1697. It prompted one of the judges to seek public forgiveness for his role in the trials. In 1711 the legislature passed a bill restoring the rights and good names of some of the victims of "those dark and severe Prosecutions," awarding restitution to their heirs. Massachusetts apologized again in 1957, and the city of Salem and the town of Danvers (originally Salem Village) dedicated memorials to the slain "witches" in 1992.
The events presented in on this page were all real, as were the quotations (edited for clarity).
There is an international name list of all those who were murdered for witchcraft. Some even as resent as 1999.