The Salem Witch Trials Essay began with the accusation of people in Salem of being witches. But the concept of witchcraft started far before these trials and false accusations occurred. In the early Christian centuries, the church was relatively tolerant of magical practices. Those who were proved to have engaged in witchcraft were required only to do penance. But in the late Middle Ages (13th century to 14th century) opposition to alleged witchcraft hardened as a result of the growing belief that all magic and miracles that did not come unambiguously from God came from the Devil and were therefore manifestations of evil.Order now
Those who practiced simple sorcery, such as village wise women, were increasingly regarded as practitioners of diabolical witchcraft. They came to be viewed as individuals in league with Satan. Nearly all those who fell under suspicion of witchcraft were women, evidently regarded by witch-hunters as especially
vulnerable to the Devil’s blandishments. A lurid picture of the activities of witches emerged in the popular mind, including covens, or gatherings over which Satan presided; pacts with the Devil; flying broomsticks; and animal accomplices, or familiars. Although a few of these elements may represent leftovers of pre-Christian religion, the old religion probably did not persist in any organized form beyond the 14th century. The popular image of witchcraft, perhaps inspired by features of occultism or ceremonial magic as well as by theology concerning the Devil and his works of darkness, was given shape by the inflamed imagination of inquisitors and was confirmed by statements obtained under torture.
The late medieval and early modern picture of diabolical witchcraft can be attributed to several causes. First, the church’s experience with such dissident religious movements as the Albigenses and Cathari, who believed in a radical dualism of good and evil, led to the belief that certain people had allied themselves with Satan.
As a result of confrontations with such heresy, the Inquisition was established by a series of papal decrees between 1227 and 1235. Pope Innocent IV authorized the use of torture in 1252, and Pope Alexander IV gave the Inquisition authority over all cases of sorcery involving heresy, although local courts carried out most actual prosecution of witches. At the same time, other developments created a climate in which alleged witches were stigmatized as representatives of evil. Since the middle of the 11th century, the theological and philosophical work of scholasticism had been refining the Christian concepts of Satan and evil.
Theologians, influenced by Aristotelian rationalism, increasingly denied that "natural" miracles could take place and therefore alleged that anything supernatural and not of God must be due to commerce with Satan or his minions. Later, the Reformation, the rise of science, and the emerging modern worldall challenges to traditional religion created deep anxieties in the orthodox population. At the dawn of the Renaissance (15th century to 16th century) some of these
Developments began to coalesce into the "witch craze" that possessed Europe from about 1450 to 1700. During this period, thousands of people, mostly innocent women, were executed on the basis of "proofs" or "confessions" of witchcraft that is, of sorcery practiced through Allegiance to Satan obtained by means of cruel tortures. A major force for the hysteria was the papal bull Summis Desiderantes issued by Pope Innocent VIII in 1484. It was included as a preface in the book Malleus Maleficarum (The Hammer of Witches) published by two Dominican inquisitors in 1486.
In the years of the witch-hunting mania, people were encouraged to inform against one another. Professional witch finders identified and tested suspects for evidence of witchcraft and were paid a fee for each conviction. The most common test was pricking: All witches were supposed to have somewhere on their bodies a mark, made by the Devil, that was insensitive to pain; if such a spot was found, it was regarded as proof of witchcraft. Other proofs included additional breasts, the inability to weep, and failure in the water test. In which, a woman was thrown into a body of water; if she sank, she was considered innocent, but if she stayed afloat, she was found guilty. This test, along with the others, was obviously dumb.
For if the suspected was innocent, .