Information On The Burning Times

The Burning times of the witches was a time that was not safe for anyone; this article tells the truth about the Burning times.

During the 'burning times,' between 1450 and 1700, thousands of alleged witches, mostly women, were burned or hanged. To the authorities that made and enforced these laws centuries ago, total elimination of witchcraft was their ultimate goal. If not, to their belief, Satan and the forces of the so-called evil would prevail. These men spread a fire of fear through the people, which made them believe that the witches flew at night, ate babies, and could destroy them with their spells. They said that the worst enemies to mankind were the witches and no man, woman, or child was safe while witches lived.

The burning times occurred during a period of the Inquisition. The Inquisition, according to history, was a judicial institution started by the men of the Roman Catholic Church in the thirteenth century. In the beginning the purpose of the Inquisition was to eliminate heretics; heresy was a crime in most European countries.

The Inquisition, although started by the Roman Catholic Church, was not an act of love. It was a brutal institution whose purpose was to punish people who opposed church teaching. The perpetrators did not set out to look for repentance, forgiveness or justice. Their sole purpose was to obtain confessions and submissions through the use of torture. If any poor soul refused to confess their heresy and convert to Catholicism, they could be executed.

Witchcraft was added to the church's list of heresies in 1320. But witches did not become a primary target of the Inquisition until after 1484. In 1484, Pope Innocent VIII issued an edict that set off almost two hundred of fifty years of torture and murder of thousands of people that stood up for their beliefs.

Arras, France became the first sight for the earliest mass witch-hunts. This slaughter took place from 1459 to 1460, because it was their thought that heretics worshiped the devil and that all witches were heretics. The events in France began with the arrest of a hermit, a member of the Waldenses, a small early Protestant group that had broken away from the Catholic Church. With this began torturing the prisoner to obtain a confession or submission. The kind of brutal torture that was administered was enough to make most people admit to just about any crime. Some confessed because officials promised light sentences if they confessed and named other guilty parties. Fortunately for the people that believed differently than the Catholics, Arras, France was the center of trade and manufacturing for its time. When foreign merchants were being scared off and this loss was hitting Arras' income, the Duke of Burgundy intervened. Eventually, Parliament and the Bishop of Arras ordered all prisoners released.

However, the torture and executions had already spread to Germany. The bloodiest sites were Bamberg and Wurzburg. All the victims were denied legal counsel, and the local rulers profited by seizing the property of defendants. It was thought a prisoner who refused to confess, even under torture, was protected by the devil. With this thought court officials and torturers protected themselves from bewitchment by spraying their equipment with holy water, wearing charms and constantly crossing themselves with the Christian sign of the cross.

In 1604 a new twist to the witchcraft laws were introduced by King James I. His new law outlawed pacts with the devil and devil worship, the most prominent features of alleged witchcraft in Europe. During the next few decades this theme of sabbats and pacts with the devil appeared in English witch trials. The witch-hunts in England peaked in the 1640's. Matthew Hopkins, a notorious witch hunter, and many others in England made very decent livings off the death of witches or accused witches.

There is not one solid answer for the witch-hunts, whether it was for the hate of women to the hate of one's neighbor. History does show that many organizations and many people tried to control others and used every means known to them to do this. Whatever the reasons it finally came to an end in Europe and in England by the seventeenth century: officials had become alarmed at the large number of people being accused and executed. Prosecution of alleged witches ended in most countries by the middle of the eighteenth century.

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