What is the truth behind the famous witch trial massacre in the Middle Ages, in which 20 women were killed unjustly

Where is Salem? This is a small town in Massachusetts, USA. Although it is very small, it has a long history. Pilgrims who immigrated to America lived here for a long time and established this small town.

However, if it is only for a long time, this ordinary American town will not become famous. Its most famous history is the sad and ridiculous extraordinary case that took place more than 300 years ago, and it is also an indelible black history of the United States, which boasts itself as a beacon of the world: the Salem Witch Trial.

Salem was originally a strange name to the Chinese. However, the launch of the 2014 US TV series ” Salem” and the Japanese hand tour ” Fate/Grand Order” chapter ” Forbidden to Come to Salem in Courtyard” in the national uniform has made many Chinese people aware of this strange place and what happened.

However, the real Salem incident is far more cruel than that shown in games and TV plays. What is its context? What led to this disastrous trial?

First, what is a witch?

When the word ” witch” is mentioned, most Chinese people’s first reaction is probably an old woman in a foreign fairy tale who wears a pointed hat, a black cloak, a pointed beak and monkey’s cheeks and can use various evil spells. Anyway, when it comes to witches, they are mostly ” evil old witches” and are not good things.

But witches are not villains. In ancient times, there were not a few priestesses and prophetesses, and science was not developed. These witch doctors, goddess officials and witches who knew medicine, astronomy, agriculture and meteorology played a great role in the society at that time.

However, how did witches go from being respected to being judged and killed? This is mainly related to the common Christian beliefs of westerners.

In the Christian world view, the world has two opposing camps, God and the devil. Believing in God, you are a good person and can be redeemed. On the contrary, you are a bad person and belong to Satan. Although in modern people’s view, this theory of not believing in religion is a bad guy is somewhat speechless, but in medieval Europe, where the Roman Catholic church controlled everything, not believing in Catholicism was ” heresy”, ranging from jail to torture, to a barbecue set.

The ” witches” who cast all kinds of ” witchcraft” are all classified as ” heretics” and subordinate to the devil. In fact, some of them may have abnormal behaviors due to mental illness, some may have young girls amused themselves as witchcraft, and some may have been framed simply because they offended others. Therefore, ” witch” has gradually become a universal crime. All sorts of strange excuses are ” evidence” against ” witches”. I didn’t go to church on Sunday, witch! A black cat, witch! ( Westerners think black cats are unlucky ) Lonely, witch!

In short, witches are baskets that can be packed into anything, and they can hardly run away. It was only the women who were wronged who suffered. In the backward era of medicine, mental diseases are regarded as ” evil” and ” devil possessed”. These patients are not treated and cared for, but abused and abused. As for those who have been reported and framed, it is even more miserable. Even after Joan of Arc, the French national hero, was captured by the British in the Hundred Years’ War between Britain and France, the British had to rack their brains to find her a ” witch” before putting her on the stake.

The ” witch hunting” movement of more than 200 to 300 years

In 1484, Pope pope innocent viii issued an encyclical saying that witches were ” heinous, immoral and shameless” and should do their utmost to suppress them. As a result, a large-scale witch hunt began in Europe.

The pope has issued the documents, and the inquisition below is getting busy. All day long, I was busy accusing, judging and executing ” witches” without delay. However, during the execution, the priests may be worried: how can they be found out when the witch is not written on her face? Then, two years later, a masterpiece dedicated to the identification of witches came out, which was the infamous ” malleus maleficarum” written by cleric Klamath and Brange.

What is the truth behind the famous witch trial massacre in the Middle Ages, in which 20 women were killed unjustly
The Cover of malleus maleficarum

As the name implies, this book is ” a sledgehammer to cut off witches’ heads.” In fact, it is to teach priests how to ” judge” witches. This book is really too dangerous. A woman who misbehaves is a witch. Women behave modestly and pretend to be witches. When a woman is questioned, she is confused. She is a witch, calm and collected. She is shameless and a witch. Confession is to admit that she is a witch, not guilty, is the devil let her stick to torture …

Countless innocent women and even young girls of good families have thus suffered injustice.

The witch hunt is getting more and more fierce. Any natural or man-made disaster is the sin of ” witches”. The pot is thrown over their heads and they are finished. Moreover, reporting ” witches” also has practical benefits. Not only are the priests responsible for torture rewarded, but also the property of the victims can be obtained. There are many priests who use witch charges as blackmail chips to satisfy lust. Why not accuse witches?

The witch hunt also includes accusations and trials of witches. In some areas, even the number of men accused exceeds that of women. However, on the whole, there are still many victims accused of being witches. In a few areas where witch hunting has been carried out thoroughly, almost all from the old lady to the little girl have been ” witched”, almost turning the area into a temple of monks.

Of course, it is impossible for all European women to be exterminated. No one dares to accuse the aristocratic celebrities in the upper class. Do you try to drag the queen and princess out of the palace to criticize one another? Unfortunately, the poor women in the lower class have no backing from the background and no financial resources to get away with it. Therefore, most of the ” old witches” in fairy tales have poor economic conditions, and a few rich people are mostly rich misers who do not spend money. Otherwise, the soldier in ” The Box of Fire” would not have picked up such a large amount of inheritance for nothing.

What is the truth behind the famous witch trial massacre in the Middle Ages, in which 20 women were killed unjustly
There will always be a day when dawn comes to the dark night. With the rise of the Enlightenment and the decline of religious forces, the trend of witch hunting has finally declined. But before its evil fire went out, the fire of witch trials was also lit in the New World of America.

Third, Salem’s ” heresy”

After the religious reform, the Christian world changed from Roman Catholicism to a multi-polar world of Catholicism and Protestantism, and Puritanism in England was one of them. Although the schools are different, everyone has the same attitude towards witches. Salem was a small town founded by Puritans who came to America from Europe because of religious persecution.

In February 1692, Betty, the 9 – year – old daughter of Samir Paris and Abigail Williams, the 11 – year – old niece of Samir Paris, suddenly suffered from strange diseases. The two little girls were lethargic, whimsical and convulsive. Their first reaction today was to rush to the hospital. However, in that era of strong religious atmosphere, this situation could easily be understood as ” evil”. At that time, there was no ” Approaching Science”. What was more, other girls in the small town were also suffering from diseases one after another. This made everyone even more alarmed. Not everyone believed the evil.

The doctor diagnosed the girls as witches according to many years of metaphysics experience. There must be witches playing tricks. Priests all showed their magic powers to help the girls find the ” real killer”. Indian Priest John even baked a piece of ” witch cake” with the urine and rye powder of the infected girls. Under ” persuasion”, the girls pointed out three ” witches”: the Indian maid Tituba of the Paris family, the beggar Sarah Goode and an old lady Sarah Osborne who did not go to church.

However, of the three ” witches” pointed out, only Tituba admitted that he had seen the ” devil” ( proof of collusion between witches and demons ). The remaining two firmly pleaded not guilty. However, Tituba testified that they were accomplices. As a result, the three were brought to court to begin trial.

The ” witch” was caught and all that remained was a routine sentence. However, nobody expected that this trial was only the beginning.

The townspeople who came to testify accused a large number of new witches, so from March onwards, the Salem witches’ team began to grow steadily, with more and more people accusing and being accused. under the condition of panic flying everywhere, everyone gradually saw that everyone around them was somewhat like witches and witches, and was afraid of being reported. As a result, the number of people accused of witches has soared.

In May, as things got bigger and bigger, the original four officials in the town also got bigger and bigger. The new governor, William Phelps, returned from the British mainland with the charter and organized seven judges to form a high-level criminal court. If there is no witch who cannot be tried, a retrial will be held.

The trial quickly progressed. In June, the first prisoner, Brickbishop, was sentenced to death for ” witch crime” and was sentenced eight days later. Of course, the Puritans were a little ” civilized” and changed the burning to hanging. Poor Bridget insisted to death that she was innocent, but it did not save her life. From June to September, another 18 people were hanged on Salem’s gallows one after another, and another was brutally stoned to death for refusing to be tried.

Although the foolish and cruel witch trial has been going on, some people still keep their heads above water, but they still fail to prevent the witch trial from continuing. Finally, in October, someone wrote a letter to the governor criticizing the witch trial. the governor was finally sober and casually said that others were witches based on the unconfirmed ” miraculous evidence”. if the trial goes on like this, Salem’s people will sooner or later have to be hanged by those ” witchcraft evidence” that do not know the truth.

Finally, the High Criminal Court was dissolved. It was not until the following year that Governor phipps announced an amnesty for the suspects and stopped the witchcraft trial. But the 20 people who were killed unjustly could not survive any longer.

Many of the pardoned suspects were unable to get out of prison because their families were poor and could not afford the food and lodging expenses of the prison ( yes, they had to pay for going to prison ). Even if they went out, their property was confiscated and they lost their livelihood. The land was vast and desolate, and Salem fell into a depression. It was not until 1992, exactly 300 years later, that the U.S. Massachusetts Congress announced the rehabilitation of all the victims.

What is the truth?

Although the witch’s grievance ended, in fact people at that time did not know the cause of the girl’s illness at the beginning of the incident until the end. In fact, the reason is not witchcraft, but the food they eat rye is infected with ergot. After the food is eaten by the girls, they are infected with ergot disease, which is called ” dancing disease”.

The patient will have hallucinations, convulsions and lethargy. In this way, it is not surprising that Abigail and others will have the illusion of ” devil”.

Unfortunately, the Puritans at that time did not understand science at all and thought that the world would be at peace if the ” witches” and ” witches” were punished. It was this paranoid belief that set the stage for Salem’s tragedy. Ironically, the Puritans came to the New World to escape the religious persecution in Europe. However, in their ignorance and panic about ” witches”, they also became the killers who wielded butcher knives from the beginning.

Americans believe that they are civilized and the United States is indeed the largest country in the world today. But the Puritans, the ancestors of the original Americans, were equally ignorant. Salem’s unjust case was only cleared up 300 years later, which virtually slapped the arrogant Americans.