Ugly History: Witch Hunts – Brian A. Pavlac


In the German town of Nördlingen in 1593, an innkeeper named Maria Höll found
herself accused of witchcraft. She was arrested for questioning,
and denied the charges. She continued to insist she wasn’t a witch
through 62 rounds of torture before her accusers finally released her. Rebekka Lemp, accused a few years earlier
in the same town, faced a worse fate. She wrote to her husband from jail worrying that she would
confess under torture, even though she was innocent. After giving a false confession, she was burned at the stake
in front of her family. Höll and Lemp were both victims of the
witch hunts that occurred in Europe and the American
colonies from the late 15th century
until the early 18th century. These witch hunts were not a unified
initiative by a single authority, but rather a phenomenon that occurred
sporadically and followed a similar pattern each time. The term “witch” has taken
on many meanings, but in these hunts, a witch was someone
who allegedly gained magical powers by obeying Satan rather than God. This definition of witchcraft spread
through churches in Western Europe starting at the end of the 15th century. It really gained traction after the pope
gave a friar and professor of theology named Heinrich Kraemer permission to conduct inquisitions in
search of witches in 1485. His first, in the town of Innsbruck, didn’t gain much traction with the local
authorities, who disapproved of his harsh questioning
of respectable citizens and shut down his trials. Undeterred, he wrote a book called the
“Malleus Maleficarum,” or “Hammer of Witches.” The text argued for the existence of
witches and suggested ruthless tactics for hunting
and prosecuting them. He singled out women as easier targets for
the devil’s influence, though men could also be witches. Kraemer’s book spurred others to write
their own books and give sermons on the
dangers of witchcraft. According to these texts, witches practiced rituals including
kissing the Devil’s anus and poisoning or bewitching targets the
devil singled out for harm. Though there was no evidence to support
any of these claims, belief in witches became widespread. A witch hunt often began
with a misfortune: a failed harvest, a sick cow,
or a stillborn child. Community members blamed witchcraft,
and accused each other of being witches. Many of the accused were people on
the fringes of society: the elderly, the poor, or social outcasts, but any member of the community
could be targeted, even occasionally children. While religious authorities encouraged
witch hunts, local secular governments usually carried
out the detainment and punishment of accused witches. Those suspected of witchcraft were
questioned and often tortured— and under torture, thousands of innocent
people confessed to witchcraft and implicated others in turn. Because these witch hunts occurred
sporadically over centuries and continents the specifics varied considerably. Punishments for convicted witches ranged
from small fines to burning at the stake. The hunt in which Höll and Lemp were
accused dragged on for nine years, while others lasted just months. They could have anywhere from a few to a
few hundred victims. The motivations of the witch hunters
probably varied as well, but it seems likely that many weren’t
consciously looking for scapegoats— instead, they sincerely believed
in witchcraft, and thought they were doing good by
rooting it out in their communities. Institutions of power enabled real harm to
be done on the basis of these beliefs. But there were dissenters all along– jurists, scholars, and physicians
countered books like Kraemer’s “Hammer of Witches” with texts objecting to the
cruelty of the hunts, the use of forced confessions,
and the lack of evidence of witchcraft. From the late 17th through the mid-18th
century, their arguments gained force with the rise
of stronger central governments and legal norms like due process. Witch hunting slowly declined until it
disappeared altogether. Both the onset and demise of these
atrocities came gradually, out of seemingly ordinary circumstances. The potential for similar situations, in which authorities use their powers to
mobilize society against a false threat, still exists today— but so does the capacity of reasoned
dissent to combat those false beliefs.

100 thoughts on “Ugly History: Witch Hunts – Brian A. Pavlac

  1. I love how videos covering this say 'many' or 'most' rather than all when referring to those falsely accused of witchcraft…

  2. Most educational channel on YouTube in my opinion. Seriously appreciate the variation of content and information it’s like learning something new everyday

  3. This goes to show that just add a couple of rumours, gullible people and everyone will just start saying that some innocent person should for a sin, they have never committed. And the worst part is this still exists but in different forms, like how the government uses what I like to call " Scapegoats " to draw attention and hatred away from them, and in doing so they have hurt, killed many innocent people. And after that, no one was sorry for the pain they caused, no one . They may say that we live in a peaceful era but it is positive that injustice still exists and it is plaguing the life of so many innocent souls

  4. I pitty those Americans who only think of Salem when it comes to witch hunts. Europe is known for the worst witch hunt of all history, Germany specifically.
    …but they didn't get all the witches♡
    Blessed Be!♡

  5. The quality of these videos is surreal!! The animation, narration, quality, information! This is actually fun to watch!

  6. I think that it's women who dared to question and challenge the status quo who were belived to be witches. Oh, what a great time were the 1500s!

  7. My sister told me in those days if you want to take revenge on some one you just have to spread rumours about her that she is a witch and she will be killed 😔

  8. W.h: hey lets torture ppl and not even give them the option not to be guilty😭

    Suspects: so if i say im not a witch I'll keep getting tortured but if I say I am then I die?

    W.h yeah pretty much, sounds fair right?💀

  9. I found out that my family from my mother's side comes from a town which is infamous with its witches in Eastern Europe. Kinda explains a lot 😀

  10. Finding a witch

    Step 1: Find someone acused of witchcraft

    Step 2: Interogate witch

    Step 3: If the witch doesn't confess, interogate again

    Step 4: If the witch doesn't confess they die and if they do they also die

    Yep that is old european logic for you

  11. I hate old Christians. I practice the faith of Wicca and I can tell you, I don’t even believe in Satan. Like, he doesn’t exist to me. 🤷🏼‍♂️

  12. If I went back in time, to this time period and told someone would they think I’m a which?
    (If there was a time machine)

  13. If the Christian god and his followers used torture and heinous forms of execution on women because they supposedly sought favors from Satan, it is immoral to worship said god. They were better off with Satan.

  14. Women in Europe were the primary targets when they had wealth, education and social status. Along with sexism, racism was a motivator among Europeand colonizers, destroying similar medical care practiced by indigenous North American and African people. Healers and midwives were almost always women and were the only scientists around in pre-Renaissance Europe. The christian cult sought to take power away from women – men who were engaged in healing and herbalism were NOT targets.

    https://www.nlm.nih.gov/exhibition/if_you_knew/ifyouknew_04.html

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1739168

  15. God : I could have intervened , but those fanatics were creative at torturing , I had to watch to learn few tricks

  16. dammit if pope and British was comming to Java, Indonesia. We must had been genocided. Damn pope and christian are the real satan

  17. Don't kid yourself, metaphorical witch-hunts are alive and well in the workplace & it is sickening to behold.

  18. I don’t need to look for “it.” It’s the one with the most power and money. People who go on witch hunts baffle me. If a witch has any magical powers and has not the sense to use them in order to become rich and powerful, I’m not worried about that witch.

  19. Great video, just one error: in the video it is wrongly stated that it was Innocent 'VII' the one who gave Heinrich Kramer the permission to hunt witches. It was Innocent 'VIII' who gave the go ahead to Kramer.

  20. So it's Germany again? Germany loves to f*ck up everything. What else they have aside form Witchcraft, WW1, WW2 and now European Union?

  21. Those people back in the day make me SMH like they had no internet so they don't know what else to do with there lives besides accusing people are witches 😥

  22. To the true individuals who were casualties and victims of the Witchhunts throughout the ages: In Memoriam.

    This must stop immediately. Merci.

  23. We people are so lucky to be born in this beautiful era. Am pretty sure i wouldn't have survived back then (ˉ(∞)ˉ)

  24. 1400 to 1800…..let that sink in guys. That’s over 4000 years of having to live in fear that someone might falsely accuse you and you might be burned at the stake

  25. The Catholic Church banned Malleus Maleficarum in 1490 by placing it on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum (“List of Prohibited Books”).

  26. Silvia Federici, a historian, wrote a fascinating book on this subject called, 'Caliban and the Witch'. She states that the witchhunts were used to weaken the peasant classes for the enclosure of land that would eventually lead to their serfdom under capitalism.

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