From the late 1400’s to the 1700’s, a witch craze spread throughout Europe, resulting in the deaths of over 100,000 ‘witches’. Though witches were persecuted all throughout Europe, trials were most popular in Western Europe; torture was a common practice during these trials. These persecutions were mostly popular in Europe but, they spread to America and later to parts of Africa. Through the evidence provided by testimonies of witnesses and statistics, the three major reasons for the persecution of witches were social prejudices, economic greed and religious beliefs.
Though the accused witches were not strictly female, the accused were predominantly women and more specifically older women, older women were seen as more fragile and impressionable so the devil could convince them to do his dirty work quiet easily.POV Two Dominican monks, Kramer and Sprenger, wrote a handbook used to identify witches by the Inquisition. In this book they explained that women are more credulous and carnal then men so they are more often found to be the devil’s workers. They think they know what they know because they are men and view women as a weaker sex. They are biased against women and are clearly sexist as they chose to blame women for being weak and provide no information on why men are accused. Women who had religious power were usually accused by the Catholic hierarchy in hopes of destroying equality in power between men and women. Also women who were healers were the first to be accused of witchcraft and doing the devil’s work, this was due to religious intolerance and ignorance. Those accused were also usually in lower classes of work, though some did accuse wealthy families of witchcraft in hopes of gaining their possessions. (Documents 8, 15, 16, and 17.)
In a society where looks are everything along with reputation, those with physical abnormalities were at risk of