What the witches were burned for

What the witches were burned for

One of the greatest mysteries in history remains the strange insanity that swept Europe in the XV-XVII centuries, as a result of which thousands of women suspected of witchcraft set off to the fires. What was it? Malice or ingenious calculation?

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In relation to the fight against witches in medieval Europe, there are many theories. One of the most original is that there was no frenzy. People really fought against the dark forces, including witches, bred around the world. If desired, this theory can be developed.

As soon as witchcraft ceased to fight, as in the world, revolutions broke out here and there, and terrorism began to acquire more and more scope. And in these phenomena a significant role was played by women, as if turning into evil furies. And in inciting the current "color" revolutions, they also play a prominent role.

Pagan tolerance

Pagan religions generally tolerated sorcerers and witches. Everything was simple: if witchcraft was for the benefit of people, it was welcomed, if it was detrimental, then it was punished.In ancient Rome, punishment was chosen for sorcerers depending on the harmfulness of what they had done. For example, if the injured witchcraft could not pay compensation to the victim, he should have been injured. In some countries, witchcraft was punishable by death.

Everything changed with the advent of Christianity. Drinking, walking on the side and deceiving your neighbor has become a sin. And sins declared the machinations of the devil. In the Middle Ages, the most educated people of that era, clergymen, began to shape the vision of the world among ordinary people. And they imposed their world view on them: they say, all the troubles on earth come from the devil and his henchmen - demons and witches.

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On the intrigues of the witches wrote off all natural disasters and setbacks in business. And it seems that the idea has arisen - the more witches to destroy, the more happiness will roll to all the remaining people. First, the witch was burned singly, then in pairs, and then in dozens and hundreds.

One of the first known cases was the execution of a witch in 1128 in Flanders. A certain woman splashed water on one of the grandees, who soon fell from his heart and kidney pains and died some time later.In France, the first known witch burning took place in Toulouse in 1285, when one woman was accused of cohabiting with the devil, which is why she allegedly gave birth to a cross between a wolf, a snake and a man. And after some time, the execution of witches in France became widespread. In the years 1320-1350, 200 women ascended the campfires in Carcassonne, more than 400 in Toulouse. And soon the fashion for massacres of witches spread throughout Europe.

World has gone mad

In Italy, after the publication of the witch hunt of Pope Adrian VI in 1523, more than 100 witches were burned annually in the Como area alone. But most of all witches appeared in Germany. The German historian Johann Sherr wrote: “Executions carried out at once over whole masses begin in Germany around 1580 and continue for almost a century. While the whole of Lorraine was smoking from fires ... in Paderborn, in Bradenburg, in Leipzig and its surroundings there were also many executions.

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In the county of Werdenfeld in Bavaria in 1582, one process brought 48 witches to the fire ... In Brunswick, between 1590-1600, so many witches were burned (10-12 people daily) that their shameful pillars stood in front of the gates. In the small county of Genneberg in one year 1612 22 witches were burned, in the years 1597-1876 - 197 ...In Lindheim, which had 540 inhabitants, 30 people were burned from 1661 to 1664. ”

There were even their record holders in executions. Fulda judge Balthazar Foss boasted that he alone burned 700 sorcerers of both sexes and hopes to bring the number of his victims to thousands. The Würzburg bishop Philip-Adolf von Ehrenberg distinguished himself with a special passion in the persecutions of witches. In Würzburg alone, he organized 42 fires, where 209 people were burned, including 25 children aged four to fourteen. Among those executed were the most beautiful girl, the fullest woman and the fattest man, the blind girl and the student who spoke many languages. Any difference between a person and others seemed to the bishop to be direct evidence of links with the devil.

His cousin Prince-Bishop Gottfried Johann Georg II Fuchs von Dornheim, who executed more than 600 people in Bamberg between 1623 and 1633, committed even more atrocities. The last mass burning in Germany was arranged by the Archbishop of Salzburg in 1678, when 97 people went to the fire at once.

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Alas, Russia has not remained aloof from the witch hunt. So, when the plague epidemic began in Pskov in 1411, 12 women were burned on the charge of blazing disease.However, in comparison with Western Europe, one can say that in Russia witches were tolerated. And usually severely punished, only if they were malicious against the sovereign. In general, rarely burned, more and more flogged.

In Europe, they not only burned them, but also tried to execute them with particular sophistication. Judges sometimes insisted that the execution of the witch would certainly be attended by her young children. And sometimes, along with the witch, they were sent to the stake and her relatives. In 1688, the whole family, including children and servants, was burned for witchcraft.

In 1746, not only the accused was burned, but also her sister, mother and grandmother. And finally, the very execution at the stake was as if specially made to even shame the woman. First of all, her clothes were burned, and for some time she remained naked in full view of the large crowd who had gathered to look at her mortification. In Russia, it was usually burned in log houses, possibly to avoid this very shame.

Not only the Inquisition

It is considered that the inquisition arranged a witch hunt. It is difficult to deny, but it should be noted that not only she. For example, in the Würzburg and Bamberg episcopies, it was not the Inquisition that raged, but the episcopal courts. In the town of Lindheim in the grand duchy of Hesse, ordinary inhabitants were judged witches.The tribunal was headed by soldier Geiss, a veteran of the Thirty Years War. The jury consisted of three peasants and a weaver. Residents of Lindheim called these people from the people "bloodsucking jurors" because they sent people to the stake for the slightest reason.

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But perhaps the most evil were the Protestant leaders of the Reformation, Calvin and Luther, whom we had previously represented as bright heroes who had challenged dark Catholics. Calvin introduced a new method of burning heretics and witches. To make the execution more durable and painful, the condemned were burned with raw wood. Martin Luther hated witches with all his heart and volunteered to execute them himself.

In 1522, he wrote: “Wizards and witches are an evil devilish offspring, they steal milk, bring on bad weather, send damage to people, take away force in their legs, torture children in the cradle, force people to love and intercourse, and ignore the devil’s actions ". And under the influence of his sermons, the Protestants in Germany sent women to the stake for the slightest suspicion.

It must be said that the Inquisition, although it led the bulk of the witch trials, strictly followed the procedural rules in its work. For example,the witch was required to confess. True, for this, the inquisitors came up with a bunch of different torture devices. For example, “witch-chair”, equipped with sharp wooden spikes, on which the suspect was forced to sit for days.

Some witches were worn on their feet leather boots of a large size and poured boiling water into them. Feet in such shoes were literally welded. And Brigitte von Ebicon in 1652 was tortured with boiled eggs, which were taken from boiling water and put under her arms.

In addition to recognition, another proof of the connection of women with the devil could be the test of water. It is curious that Christians adopted it from the pagans. Even the laws of Hammurabi at the beginning of the II millennium BC recommended that those accused of witchcraft go to the Deity of the River and dive into the River; if the River grabs him, his accuser will be able to take his house. If the River cleans this man, then he can take the house from the accuser.

Even more significant evidence of the witch’s guilt than her confession was the presence of “devil's marks” on her body. There were two types of them - "witch sign" and "the mark of the devil." The “witch's mark” was supposed to resemble the third nipple on the woman’s body, it was believed that through him she fed the demons with her own blood.

A "stigma of the devil" was called an unusual growth on the human skin, insensitive to pain. Now there is a theory that the “witch sign” and “the mark of the devil” are characteristic of only one disease. This is leprosy, or leprosy.

With the development of leprosy, the skin begins to thicken and forms ulcers and nodes that can really resemble a nipple and are insensitive to pain. And if we take into account that the apogee of the spread of leprosy in Europe fell on the Middle Ages, it turns out that the inquisitors, under the guise of a witch hunt, fought the epidemic of leprosy.

Bonfires vs feminism

There is another interesting theory. As if the Inquisition - a tool of male monastic orders - witch hunts tried to put women in place. Crusades and civil strife thoroughly decimated the ranks of men in Europe, and therefore, especially in rural communities, the female majority dictated their will to the male minority.

And when men tried to rein in women by force, they threatened to send them all sorts of misfortunes. The dominance of women was a danger to church foundations, since it was believed that the daughters of Eve, the culprits of the fall, could do great harm, give them will and power.

It is not by chance that with the help of accusations of witchcraft, they often dealt with women who have attained great influence and high status. In this regard, we can recall the execution of the wife of Henry VIII - Anne Boleyn. One of the accusations against her in 1536 was witchcraft. And the sixth finger on one hand at Anna became the proof of the connection with the evil spirit.

And the most famous execution of a witch in the centuries remained the burning of Joan of Arc on May 30, 1431 in the city of Rouen. The Inquisition instituted proceedings against the Orleans maiden of witchcraft, the rebelliousness of the church and the wearing of men's clothing. During her execution in the middle of the scaffold there was a pillar with a blackboard where it was written: “Jeanne, who calls herself“ the Virgin, the apostate, the witch, the damned blasphemer, the bloodsucker, the servant of Satan, the splitter and the heretic ”.

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The Guinness Book of Records says that the last time a court sentence for witchcraft was executed by the servant Anna Geldi in the Swiss city of Glarus in June 1782. The investigation against her lasted 17 weeks and 4 days. And most of this time she spent chained in chains and shackles. True, Geldi was relieved of the burning alive. Her head was cut off.

And the last witch in the history of mankind was burned in the Mexican city of Camargo in 1860. Experts estimate that at the time of the witch hunt in the XVI and XVII centuries, at least 200 thousand women were executed.

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  • What the witches were burned for

    What the witches were burned for

    What the witches were burned for

    What the witches were burned for

    What the witches were burned for

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    What the witches were burned for

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    What the witches were burned for

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    What the witches were burned for

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    What the witches were burned for

    What the witches were burned for

    What the witches were burned for

    What the witches were burned for

    What the witches were burned for

    What the witches were burned for