October is the time where many people enjoy spooky decorations, treats and celebrate creepy things for fun. For many, it is enjoyable to spend time with friends and family while partaking in the frightening festivities. However, if our current Halloween celebrations were taken back in time to the Renaissance, it would not go over well. People from today who dressed up spookily could be accused of witchcraft. Witch hunting is an unfortunate part of history but interesting nonetheless.
What Is Witch Hunting?
Firstly, what is witch hunting? Which hunting was a practice in which society would persecute and murder people who had been labeled a witch. Someone who was accused of being a witch would supposedly be a Devil worshiper and would practice black magic. Witch hunting was conducted in Europe and America from the early 14th century to the 18th century.
Most of the time people would be accused of witchcraft if they were not widely liked. Often, the people that were accused of witchcraft were poor, older women, but there were also some men accused of witchcraft, specifically if they were linked to another supposed witch (i.e. married to them). Women were seen as weak, so therefore more defenseless against the temptations of the Devil, however the real danger was that women were not in a position to protect themselves socially or politically against such allegations.
Why Was Witch Hunting Practiced?
There are many theories as to why people supported witch hunting, but the overwhelming evidence seems to point to that people legitimately thought that witches were to blame for a lot of problems and that they were doing their righteous duties by getting rid of witches. A lot of the contempt for witches stems from the Catholic Church’s condemnation of people who were supposedly associating with the Devil in the Dark Ages. But the persecution of witches also came from secular areas.
Several governments passed laws and acts that condemned witchcraft. One of these laws was the Scottish Witchcraft Act. This act was passed in 1563 and was not removed until 1736. The Scottish Witchcraft Act made witchcraft and associating with witches a capital offense. As a result of this act and many acts like it, thousands of people were tried for witchcraft in Europe, with many of those trials ending in the death of the supposed witch.
Another reason why witch hunting was practiced was that people did not have as much access to education, were often in extreme poverty and when something bad happened it was much easier to blame misfortune on a witch. Society loves to blame its problems on someone, and even more on a certain group of people. Witch hunts were most certainly situations of creating scapegoats in order to remove disliked people and to have an answer as to why bad things would happen instead of taking personal responsibility.
Why Is Understanding Why Witch Hunting Happened Important?
It is important to understand why witch hunts happened in order to recognize similar behavior in today’s society. Killing innocent people under the pretence of consorting with the Devil is an atrocity that many people today would say could not possibly happen today. However there are many other instances in history where innocent people were killed as scapegoats for no other reason than that they existed. History tends to repeat itself, so if we learn from the past, then the negative consequences that our ancestors had to deal with due to their actions can be avoided today. Learning history and about your ancestors helps you become more aware of how difficult life was and is for a lot of people.
Want To Learn More About Your Personal History?
Here at Heritage Consulting, we have many resources available to you to help you learn more about your personal history and ancestors. We would love to help guide you through your personal discovery of your history. We find it extremely important to learn these things because it can not only help you but can help our society become better. Contact us today to learn more about our services or for any questions you may have.