Were people executed as witches in medieval times?


Tens of thousands of people accused of witchcraft were burned or hung across Europe, the UK and the American colonies, but the height of the witch panic occurred well after the medieval period. In fact, the worst frenzy of witch-hunting, known as the Burning Times, occurred between 1580 and 1662. An estimated 60,000 people were put to death for witchcraft during this period, mostly in Germanic regions of Europe, although about 500 were executed in England. Witches were accused of conspiring with the devil to conjure spells that caused all manner of misfortune: illness and death, crop failure, storms and floods, etc.

Historians now believe that score settling and scapegoating played large roles in the trials and executions of suspected witches, a quarter of which were men. In the famous case of the Pendle witches, most of the condemned came from two feuding families that accused each other of committing various atrocities. The Witchcraft Acts, which made sorcery punishable by death, were repealed in England and Scotland by 1736.

Answered by Dave Roos