Why did regional variations exist in the prosecution of witches between 1580-1650


By Robert Hodgkinson, published 31st August 2003

Regional variations in the intensity of European witchhunting existed because the necessary preconditions for panic chain-reaction hunts were only constantly in place in a very small number of regions. More than 35,000 witchcraft executions took place in the Holy Roman Empire where there was a wide acceptance of the cumulative concept by the educated elite and the different states within the Empire were both politically and judicially autonomous. Judicial torture and the Reformation also had an impact on witchhunting as it was torture that “created diabolical witchcraft”1 through elaborate confessions, whilst the Reformation catalysed the occurrence of witchhunting. It would not be correct...

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