Between 1450 and 1750, at least 100,000 individuals, mostly women, were accused of witchcraft in Europe and North America. Of these, roughly half met their demise at the stake or in the noose. This 73-minute lecture by Dr. Charlotte Carrington-Farmer, Associate Professor of History at Roger Williams University, addresses how and why magic and witchcraft made sense to early modern people and what it meant when someone was accused of making a pact with the Devil. The February 4, 2021 program was sponsored by the Little Compton Historical Society.
By setting the Salem trials of 1692 in context, the lecture considers the nature of witch-hunts more broadly and the social, religious, judicial, and political causes.
During the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, more than 200 people were accused of practicing witchcraft. Twenty of those people were executed, most by hanging. One man was pressed to death under heavy stones, the only such state-sanctioned execution of its kind. Dozens suffered under inhumane conditions as they waited in jail for months without trials; many of the imprisoned were also tortured, and at least one died in jail before the hysteria abated in 1693.