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At the height of the witch burning craze, thousands people, largely women, were falsely accused of witchcraft. Many of them were burned, hanged, and executed, typically under religious pretense. But this phenomena largely didn’t happen in the Middle Ages, and if so it only occurred at the very end of this period.

Witch burnings did not begin en masse until the Renaissance period and did not peak until the Enlightenment period in the eighteenth century. Although executions by being burn at the stake were somewhat common in the Middle Ages, they were not used on “witches”—only heretics and other disobeyers of Catholic teachings received this ignominious death. Witch trials and their accusations of weather manipulation, transforming into animals, and child sacrifices, have no documented occurrence before 1400.

RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE

The Age of Illumination: Science, Technology, and Reason in the Middle Ages, by Scott Rank

 

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Cite This Article
"Common Knowledge About The Middle Ages That Is Incorrect, Part 3: Witch Burnings" History on the Net
© 2000-2019, Salem Media.
April 19, 2019 <https://www.historyonthenet.com/common-knowledge-middle-ages-incorrect-part-3-witch-burnings>
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