witch
MEDIEVAL WITCHCRAFT

HYSTERIA

Out Of Chaos And Confusion

The Medieval Ages were highly steeped in superstition. It was widely believed that witches often consorted with dark and demonic powers to bring about great evils. Anything that could not be explained by science was deemed an act of witchcraft or magic. Droughts, plagues and famines were believed to be the diabolical work of dark practitioners.
During the height of the Spanish Inquisition, witchcraft was regarded as a serious crime against God and humanity. Witches were hunted down, arrested and brutally tortured. Those who conducted these vicious sessions tried to force a confession from the accused. Many times an innocent person would confess to the crimes simply to stop the barbaric and painful torture. Once a confession was gained, it was believed that the only way to purify the soul of the witch was through flames. Therefore the witch would be led outside before a large crowd of jeering people where she was tied to a stake and burned to death.
In outlying communities and Medieval towns where a justiciate or church official could not preside over the trial of an accused witch, townsfolk often took matters into their own accord. "Trial By Fire" was a popular method for determining whether or not an accused victim was truly a witch, though the 'trial' was quite contradictory and always led to a guilty verdict. To have a Trial By Fire, the hand of the witch would be placed into flames. If the witch was innocent, it was believed that God would impart this knowledge by not letting an innocent person be burned by the flames. Naturally anyone subjected to this pointed ritual was indeed burned and therefore punished as a witch regardless of innocence.
Other methods involved "dunking" in which an accused person was strapped to a chair that dangled from a crossbeam or bridge. The witch was then repeatedly dunked in water until the point of asphyxiation. Or outright, accused witches were tied in burlap sacks and hurled into the rivers or hanged.
Cats were also closely associated with witchcraft and demonic consortion. It was believed that demons could take the form of lesser animals and accompany the witch throughout daily life without being suspected. There were instances in Medieval History when cats were hunted down, tortured and killed. Also there were cases where cats and other animals were actually put on trial.
As science began to explain more things the eventual hysteria of witch-hunting died down but not before thousands of innocent people suffered horrible deaths at the charges.

___________
Back