This was the European Witch Craze that Fueled the Salem Witch Trials

Witchcraft at Salem Village. c 1876. Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain

The Plague, the End, and the Start of The Salem Witch Trials

After the end of the Dark Ages, Witchcraft was put on a back burner, never to be brought up or spoken of until the early 1690s in British North America. In New England in the colony of Massachusetts, the most famous trials of all witchcraft history were conducted next to the burning of Joan of Arc. The Salem Witchcraft Trials didn’t stay in Salem itself. Salem was broken into two places, one being Salem Town and the other as Salem Village (now known today as Danvers). Other areas affected by the trials and also held trials were Ipswich, Boston and Charlestown, Massachusetts. The correct account of these trials differs from society, history, and Witchcraft history.

The supposed start of the trials began in February 1692, in Salem Village. The first accusations of witchcraft were among the “social disrespect” of society. Whole families that had their name “drug over the coals” or were disrespected in society were accused of witchcraft. Women who were independent and owned land were also a target for the accused. Anyone who tried defending or helping the accused was also accused of witchcraft. The trials consisted of over 150 people being accused of Witchcraft, 19 being hung to death, and 1 crushed to death by stones. Five more accused died in prison. Of the 19 hanged, 14 were women and 5 were men. Giles Corey was crushed to death after not entering a plea. Samuel Parris, the minister of Salem Village, was directly involved within the Trials. Betty Parris was Samuel Parris’ daughter, and Abigail Williams his niece.

These two girls started the entire Witchcraft Trials, by having fits of epileptic proportions and then the girls would blame their “conditions” on the work of Witchcraft in the Village. Anyone who the girls would accuse would be convicted and sentenced to be hanged or in prison. Rebecca Nurse and Martha Corey stood up against the accusations and believed the girls’ accusations to be a lie and false. They were both tried and hanged, which deeply upset the Village for Martha Corey and Rebecca Nurse were full covenanted members of the Church. This lets the community believe that if Witchcraft was at play within Salem Village, then no one was safe from witches and even the Reverend himself could have been a Warlock.

Depiction of a woman hanged for being a witch – Time Magazine

Today, the Salem Witch Trials are seen in different ways. Some believe that these women were killed or sent into prison because they were midwives. Doctors were only men during this time, and the doctors wanted to take away the midwives job of childbirth so they could charge high prices for delivery of the baby. Women pregnant during this period preferred midwives over doctors. Midwives were accused of Witchcraft because of the herbs they used during childbirth and other ways to cure maladies.

Another belief is the controversy over religion in Salem Town and Salem Village. Salem Town was a highly Christian (Catholic) town, while Salem Village was Protestant. The more wealthy landowners of Salem Town wanted to cut ties altogether with Salem Village, because of their dominant Protestant faith. Salem Village wanted to keep the connection to Salem Town for the wealth, supplies, and regal “connections” to well-known people in Salem Town. This led to the accusations of witchcraft to further along the process and have Salem Town receive their wish of cutting off Salem Village.