Account for the decline and growth of Witch hunts in Europe between 1500 1650 During this period witchcraft was considered a serious crime throughout much of Europe, in both catholic and protestant areas. Starting in 1500 there was a dramatic increase In the number of accusations and convictions of witchcraft which persisted through much of the 16th and 17th century before declining towards the latter portion of this period.
The rise of witch hunts was spurred on by misogynistic Ideas, religious beliefs and, social political and economic turmoil in Europe, while a myriad f factors contributed to the decline of witch hunts, from the emergence of the scientific revolution to growing continental stability. During this time in European society misogynistic beliefs were common and widespread, as well as supported by religious doctrines. We know that the vast majority of people accused and convicted in Witch trials were women especially single women.
It is clear that sexist beliefs led to Europeans assuming that women were more susceptible to the devil’s influence. Furthermore some occupations, such as midwives, were commonly linked to sorcery and magic. As these practices were Aragua with superstition and Ill Informed knowledge, it was easy to blame the so- called ‘expert’ when things went wrong. As these practices were mostly associated with women this also contributed to the rise of witch-hunts. Another key contributor to the growth of witch-hunts was the upheaval in Europe at the time.
It was a time of active warring, rebellions, and political turmoil. These events often led to a downturn in the fortunes of the poor. As society suffered through events such as the bubonic plague, societies searched for scapegoats to shift blame for the trouble In the community. Single women were often marginal members f society who had few allies to defend them. As such they were often easy to blame and were accused as witches. One final contributor in the growth of witch-hunts was changing religious beliefs and growing uncertainty due to the protestant reformation.
As the unity of the Catholic Church was challenged many people’s faith In god and religion faltered. In an attempt to fill this void many common people fell back on pagan beliefs such as witchcraft to explain the unexplainable. As this period drew to a close the number of witch hunts began to decline. A primary reason behind this was the onset of the scientific revolution. As the scientific revolution gained steam common Europeans began to value reason, which naturally led to a decrease In superstition and witch-hunts.
This was especially common Finally the rate of witch trials slowed due to the stabilization of politics in Europe in the early sass’s. The last major religious conflict that tore seams in society, the thirty years war, ended in 1648. As communities were not being afflicted with the same number of tragedies, town leaders realized that the witch hunts, far from banding the community together in the face of adversity, were actually destabilize the community.