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Both women were "confident and determined, ready to express their opinions and to stand their ground when crossed. Disborough remained imprisoned for almost a year until she was acquitted. In the famed Salem witch trials, the people "afflicted" by an unexplained "distemper" in were all teenaged girls. Initially, two girls from the Reverend Samuel Parris' household claimed they were being bitten, pinched and pricked by invisible specters.

Soon other girls reported similar feelings. Some threw fits, crying out that they saw terrifying specters. Some have suggested that the girls were faking their symptoms.

A Brief Word on the Witch Trials

In a book, Boston merchant and historian Robert Calef called them " vile varlets. Arthur Miller's play "The Crucible" also casts one of the Salem girls as the villain. His play depicts Abigail — who was, in real life, a girl of 11 — as a manipulative year-old carrying on an affair with a married man.


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To get his wife out of the way, Abigail makes witchcraft accusations. Nothing in the historical record suggests an affair. But Miller's play is so widely staged that countless Americans know only this version of events.

The Origin of Witches

Other Salem stories blame Tituba, an enslaved woman in the household of the Reverend Samuel Parris , for teaching witchcraft to the local girls. Tituba confessed to "signing the devil's book" in , confirming Puritans' worst fears that the devil was actively recruiting. But given her position as an enslaved person and a woman of color, it's almost certain that Tituba's confession was coerced.

This is why witch trials weren't just about accusations that today seem baseless. They were also about a justice system that escalated local grievances to capital offenses and targeted a subjugated minority. Women were both the victims and the accused in this terrible American history, casualties of a society created and controlled by powerful men.

Discover Crabs.

Why Witches Are Usually Women

The Everything Kids' Cookbook. Pendragon: The Reality Bug.

Discover Deadly Animals. Hunters of the Dusk. Love, Splat. The Secret at Solaire. Comic Con Artist. Little Miss Liberty. The New Kid. I was surprised to learn how many women and sometimes men were killed so others could steal their land or because of personal vendettas like Agnes Bernauer including the Salem witch trials in America.

Witches in History: Isobel Gowdie, Pendle Witches and More

Historical conflicts such as the 30 Years War between Catholics and Protestants in Germany and the conflict between midwives and early doctors also drove many of the accusations of witchcraft. It is interesting to note that Joan of Arc is now recognized as a saint by Catholics. Although she was burned for heresy, many of her French followers considered her a saint in her lifetime.

In , in a church court retrial and she was found not guilty, although she didn't become canonized a saint until Growing up Catholic, I admired Joan's courage and wondered how anyone in France could have sold her out to the English who had invaded their country for over years. Researching and reading translations of Joan's trial, I learned that some Burgundian French clergy and nobles in the court of Charles VII collaborated with the English army.

They were more concerned with making a profit from war than restoring the rightful king and freeing their country as Joan was doing.

Witchcraft: Crash Course European History #10

Get award-winning feminist analysis straight to your inbox: Sign up for our Weekly Reader! Search form Search. Books witches. Leave this field blank. Nice idea but poorly executed. If you would have clicked over to the Joan of Arc wikipedia page instead of just the one about her trial you would have found this, "From Christine de Pizan to the present, women have looked to Joan as a positive example of a brave and active female.

Ummmmm, indeed. Your name. E-mail The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly. Notify me when new comments are posted.