丑陋的历史——猎巫行动 Ugly History — Witch Hunts

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In the German town of Nördlingen in 1593, an innkeeper named Maria Holl found herself accused of witchcraft. She was arrested for questioning, and denied the charges.

She continued to insist she wasn't a witch through 62 rounds of torture before her accusers finally released her. Rebelcon Lamp, accused a few years earlier at the same tail faced worse fate.

She wrote to her husband from jail worrying that she would confess under torture, even though she was innocent. After giving a false confession, she was burned at the stake in front of her family.

Holl and Lemp were both victims of the witch hunts that occurred in Europe and the American colonies from the late 15th century until the early 18th century. These witch hunts were not a unified initiative by a single authority, but rather a phenomenon that occurred sporadically and followed a similar pattern each time.

The term "witch has taken on many meanings, but in these hunts, a witch was someone who allegedly gained magical powers by obeying Satan rather than God. This definition of witchcraft spread through churches in Western Europe starting at the end of the 15th century.

It really gained traction after the pope gave a friar and professor of theology named Heinrich Kraemer permission to conduct inquisitions in search of witches in 1485. His first, in the town of Innsbruck, didn't gain much traction with the local authorities, who disapproved of his harsh questioning of respectable citizens and shut down his trials.

Undeterred, he wrote a book called the "Malleus Maleficarum," or "Hammer of Witches." The text argued for the existence of witches and suggested ruthless tactics for hunting and prosecuting them.

He singled out women as easier targets for the devil's influence, though men could also be witches. Kraemer's book spurred others to write their own books and give sermons on the dangers of witchcraft.

According to these texts, witches practiced rituals including kissing the Devil's anus and poisoning or bewitching targets the devil singled out for harm. Though there was no evidence to support any of these claims, belief in witches became widespread.

A witch hunt often began with a misfortune: a failed harvest, a sick cow, or a stillborn child. Community members blamed witchcraft, and accused each other of being witches.

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