What Were the Burning Times?

Facts and Fiction About the European Witch Hunts

Poganisam and Wicca

By Patti Wigington, Updated August 13, 2018

Medieval Young Lady

CAP53 / Getty Images

We’ve all seen the bumper stickers and the t-shirts: Never Again the Burning Times! It’s a rally cry for many born-again Pagans and Wiccans, and indicates a need to reclaim what’s ours — our rights to worship and celebrate as we choose. The phrase Burning Times is often used in modern Paganism and Wicca to indicate the era from the Dark Ages to around the nineteenth century, when charges of heresy were enough to get a witch burned at the stake. Some have claimed that as many as nine million people were killed in the name of “witch hunts.” However, there’s a lot of discussion within the Pagan world about the accuracy of that number, and some scholars have estimated it significantly lower, possibly as few as 200,000. That’s still a pretty big number, but a lot less than some of the other claims that have been made.

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Malleus Maleficarum, the Medieval Witch Hunter Book

ThoughtCo

The European Witch Hunters’ Manual

By Jone Johnson Lewis, Updated February 16, 2019

Inquisitors at a witch trial.

Unknown/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

The Malleus Maleficarum, a Latin book written in 1486 and 1487, is also known as “The Hammer of Witches.” This is a translation of the title. Authorship of the book is credited to two German Dominican monks, Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger. The two were also theology professors. Sprenger’s role in writing the book is now thought by some scholars to have been largely symbolic rather than active.

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How Irish women won the right to wote in 1918

THE IRISH TIMES

Catriona Crowe, Mon, Dec 10, 2018


After decades of campaigning by the suffragettes, a 1918 Act gave a limited cohort of women the right to vote in parliamentary elections

Image courtesy of the National Print Museum

Image courtesy of the National Print Museum

A few years ago, I had the privilege of meeting Eric Hobsbawm, the late eminent left-wing historian, and took the opportunity to ask him what he believed was the most significant revolution of the 20th century. Without hesitation he answered: “Undoubtedly, the women’s revolution.”

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Gone and Forgotten: The Sad Fate of the Witches of Prussia

By Natalia Klimczak, 19 SEPTEMBER, 2016

Gone and Forgotten: The Sad Fate of the Witches of Prussia

The region of Prussia in Central Europe is a unique place due to the large number of cultures which have resided and met there. These lands were also a hotbed for witchcraft and a cruel fate for those who dared to dabble in the practice.

A Mixture of Faiths

Witchcraft may have existed in this area since the settling of Eastern and Western Prussia. Before the baptisms of these regions, the territory of historical Prussia was pagan. The faith of the inhabitants was mixed and dependent on the tribe they were related to, but it was generally a combination of Baltic religions with inflated mythologies.

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A Timeline of Witch Hunts in Europe

ThoughtCo

By Jone Johnson Lewis

Updated February 20, 2020

Saul and the Witch of Endor, 1526. Artist: Cornelisz van Oostsanen, Jacob (ca. 1470-1533)

 Saul and the Witch of Endor, 1526. Artist: Cornelisz van Oostsanen, Jacob (ca. 1470-1533). Heritage Images/Getty Images / Getty Images

The European witch hunts have a long timeline, gaining momentum during the 16th century and continuing for more than 200 years. People accused of practicing maleficarum, or harmful magic, were widely persecuted, but the exact number of Europeans executed on charges of witchcraft is not certain and subject to considerable controversy. Estimates have ranged from about 10,000 to nine million. While most historians use the range of 40,000 to 100,000 based on public records, up to three times that many people were formally accused of practicing witchcraft.

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How many people were killed as Witches in Europe from 1200 to the present?

Greg Laden s Blog, October 8, 2017

The original post generated a lot of comments, including from expert historians who strongly disagreed with my post. I put those comments at the bottom of the post so you can see them. I am sticking to my story that the consideration of people murdered as witches should include the 13th century, and does not for reasons having more to do with quirks of the practice of history than to the behavior of the Europeans at the time. I also maintain that typical estimates accepted by historians are by nature conservative.

Now, on to the original post:

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POLAND STRUGGLES TO DEAL WITH PEDOPHILIA IN CATHOLIC CHURCH

REPORTING DECRACY

Claudia Ciobanu / Warsaw / August 26, 2020

While the Polish authorities focus on fighting an imagined threat to children from what they call the “LGBT lobby”, progress on combating pedophilia inside the Catholic Church, a well-documented phenomenon, remains slow.

Afew days after receiving her first communion in May last year, nine-year-old Julia told her mother she was sick and refused to go to church for further ceremonies planned in relation to this key moment in a Catholic family’s life.

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