The Witch Hunts in England

In Europe Witchcraft was seen top be a very serious crime and those people who were convicted of practicing witchcraft were subjected to the death penalty. It is understood that thousand of people who majority were women were tried for the crime of witchcraft, and almost half of these were executed. Witches can be described as magical practitioners, owing their evil powers to a pact they had made with the Devil. It later came to the realization of theologians and Christian that witches were not isolated individuals dabbling in the occult ,but members of a demonic , anti –Christian heretical sect (Stearne 1648).

To the societies that believed in witches, the witches were regarded as persons who possessed extraordinary or mysterious power to perform evil deeds. The vital characteristic of these evil deeds was that they seemed to be magical instead of religious deed and in addition to the above they were harmful and not beneficial in any way or the other. This paper therefore seeks to establish and analyze the process of witch-hunting in England and it effect on the community.

According to Briggs (1996) witches beliefs existed in two different mind set witch was that of intellectual and that of the peasant. The great European witch-hunt took place because of the members of the ruling elite in particular those individuals controlling the operation of judiciary who subscribed to the beliefs related to diabolical activities and practices of witches. The practice of witchcraft was closely associated with a tight face to face pact a witch made with the devil. The pact was the instrument that gave the witch power to perform ‘Malecia’ but also initiated her into the Devil.’ Malecia refers to extraordinary or mysterious power to perform evil deeds (Briggs1996). The conclusion of the pact was a formal ceremony which took place after the Devil had appeared to the witch, usually as a handsome, well dressed man and enticed her with the promise of material reward or sexual pleasure. The witch agreed to reject her Christian faith and then paid homage to the Devil either by bowing down before him or by kissing his buttocks.

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