18 Reasons One is Executed for Witchcraft during the 'Burning Times'
18 Reasons One is Executed for Witchcraft during the ‘Burning Times’

18 Reasons One is Executed for Witchcraft during the ‘Burning Times’

D.G. Hewitt - January 6, 2019

18 Reasons One is Executed for Witchcraft during the ‘Burning Times’
Petty squabbles could lead to unfounded accusations of witchcraft being made. New England History.

1. You had made enemies: In many cases, people were accused of being witches by neighbors bearing grudges and seeking revenge

Sometimes – quite often, in fact – men or women did nothing to give the impression they might be witches. However, at the height of the witch hunts of the 16th and 17th centuries, just an anonymous accusation might be enough to get someone hauled in front of a grand jury and tried for witchcraft. Indeed, there are plenty of examples where unfounded accusations were made against neighbors, former friends or even family members. Sometimes they were made in order to deflect attention away from someone else. Or sometimes an argument got out of hand or a love affair turned sour – and a woman would end up being labeled as a witch.

The last person to be executed for witchcraft in Switzerland, for instance, did nothing worse than bring a love affair to an end. Anna Goldi had embarked on an affair with a rich politician whilst employed as the family nanny. When she brought the affair to an end, the powerful man denounced her as a witch. He even claimed that she had used black magic to make his daughter suffer from convulsions. She was also accused of talking with the devil. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Goldi ‘confessed’ to all charges – though only after she had been strung up by just her thumbs – and she was executed soon after.


Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

“History of Witches”. History Channel.

“The Mysterious Enslaved Woman Who Sparked Salem’s Witch Hunt”. History.

“17 Signs That You’d Qualify as a Witch in 1692”. Mental Floss.

“Midwives and Witches.” Bronwyn Backstrom (Vanderbilt University) Wonders & Marvels.

“Italian village calls for retrial of 18th century ‘witch’ accused of throwing child into vat of boiling cheese.” The Telegraph, October 2015.

“Witch-Hunt: Mysteries of the Salem Witch Trials.” Marc Aronson.

“A Brief History of Witch Hunts, Real and Imagined.” Mother Jones, November 2017.

“A Brief History of the Salem Witch Trials.” Smithsonian.

ThoughtCo – Sarah Good Biography.

“The history of witch hunts in America and Europe.” The Washington Post, October 2017.

“Five myths about the Salem witch trials”. The Washington Post.

“How the Germans went crazy for witch hunts.” The Local Germany, May 2014.

“What Caused the Salem Witch Trials?” History of Massachusetts Blog.

“The Salem Witch Trials.” National Geographic Kids.

“Last Person Executed as a Witch in Europe Gets a Museum”. Smithsonian Magazine.