Witch Trial Hysteria in the Medieval and Early Modern Worlds

Natural events and pandemics contributed to the hysteria surrounding the witch trials of the 16th through 18th centuries. Introduction The witch trials in the early modern period were a series of witch hunts between the 15th and 18th centuries, when across early modern Europe, and to some extent in the European colonies in North America,[…]

Persecuting the Powerless: Why Most Accused Witches Were Women

Witch trials most often targeted a persecuted minority: women. Introduction “Witch hunt” – it’s a refrain used to deride everything from impeachment inquiries and sexual assault investigations to allegations of corruption. When powerful men cry witch, they’re generally not talking about green-faced women wearing pointy hats. They are, presumably, referring to the Salem witch trials,[…]

Witch Hunt! How Europe’s Witch Mania Came to the New World

Witch hunts in the New World began in Virginia, though Virginia’s alleged witches were imprisoned rather than executed. When I decided to write Poison in the Colony, a historical novel about the Jamestown colony, I was up against a problem. It was 2014 and young readers had made their desires clear: if a book didn’t contain[…]

From Ancient Rome to Hollywood: Witches as Figures of Fun

How Romans overcame their fear of witches by finding them funny. Introduction For centuries, when people thought of witches, they were evil or possessed by evil demons: think of the Salem witch trials or the 16th and 17th-century woodcuts depicting sinister women conjuring demons or flying on broomsticks. These were the sort of women who morphed in[…]