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Student Reading Journals and Essays on Wood, et al.

, Witch Hunts Fall 2012







Granite State College, New Hampshire, U.S.A.

In 2012, Dr. Ian Aebel, history lecturer at Granite State College
in New Hampshire, U.S.A. introduced the graphic novel Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times to the list of required texts for his History 510 course. The students were required to read the graphic novel as part of their studies and the text was also used in its teachings on the Salem witch trials. The students were asked to keep journals and write essays on Witch Hunts; to put their impressions of the work on paper. With Dr. Aebel’s and Granite State College’s permission, we have collected the students’ comments in this special publication. The comments are unattributed for privacy reasons. We thank the students for their insights and Dr. Aebel and Granite State College for the privilege of including our graphic novel in its teachings on the history of the United States. We hope that Witch Hunts continues to play an important role in history education. Rocky Wood Lisa Morton Greg Chapman June 2013

Wood and Morton have created a graphic novel

in which they discuss the many reasons leading up to the Salem witch trials. The book is unique in that it examines the ‘why’ behind the siege and the horror of torture and execution experienced by the condemned. In my research project, I am examining the correlation between Puritanism and the fear of Indians. This book addresses the logic behind who was condemned and why. “George Burroughs, a former Salem Village minister, was dragged from distant Wells and charged with feats of strength achieved by diabolical means. In truth, Burroughs was the victim of old grudges, which could now be settled” (WH 145). Burroughs had financial debts from when he was a minister in Salem. Burroughs was also known as a supporter of the Abenaki Indians as he had close contact with them. This relationship, along with his financial debt made him an ideal suspect of practicing witch craft. This book gives the reader a unique vision of history through graphic images that provide depth to the written word.

I have been reading Witch Hunts, which is a very easy read in the graphic novel format. Reading about the history of what happened before here in the US is very interesting.

I hadn’t realized there were so many places in Europe that had witch trials like we did.
Reading about Kramer was very interesting, how he felt he was the one man that could carry out God’s wishes in convicting all of the witches was very interesting to me. The idea that he teamed up with Sprenger was intriguing, that a scholar was kind of sucked into the beliefs of a fanatic. It shows that throughout history, people have been persuaded by other peoples’ beliefs and ideas. It’s not hard to believe someone when they are such great speakers. I believe this shows how people like Hitler or Stalin led the way they did: they were great speakers and they knew how to get followers. It does seem as though Kramer hated women, or lusted after them, and so he condemned them as much as possible. And he tried to get as many people as he could to agree with him and follow his lead.

Looking through this book gives me more of a visual of what happened.

One thing that I found interesting with the book Witch Hunts was all the detail that went into all those drawings.

I have always had a hard time with the Salem witch trial stuff. I think it’s because it just does not draw my attention enough. To know that this stuff had been going on for centuries and that thousands were arrested, tortured and executed just blows my mind. Towards the end of the book I found it interesting that it mentions Saudi Arabia being the only country in the world that still legally treats witchcraft as a crime and that it is punishable by death. Religion can be a very powerful thing with some people and makes me wonder how it can have such an impact on life in general.

So far in reading Witch Hunts the book has been a pleasant surprise. There aren’t many books that I can sit down and read and ACTUALLY enjoy reading them.

To find a nonfiction graphic novel that I can enjoy is somewhat well pleasant. I haven’t read the entire book yet but it’s fascinating how Wood has concocted this perfect combination of nonfiction and graphic novel.
Between the witch hunters and the Black Death going on the book has been a pure joy to sit down and read while I’m on break at work or at night before I go to sleep. Generally when I find there are reading assignments in class I don’t enjoy them but this is one of those exceptions that I truly enjoy and love to have. It’s like the culmination of this class so far because I have thoroughly enjoyed being in the class thus far and doing the readings. The witch trials have been such a fun thing to experience and read about, then discuss and talk about in journals. It’s crazy how so many were accused and no one thought about it because they believed witchcraft was truly real. However when science became a popular thing in the world it became surreal and everyone realized Witchcraft wasn’t as real as they once thought. It just goes to show how weak humans can be because they don’t always realize their surroundings and they don’t always pay attention. It’s an incredible anomaly and one that I believe will always be a human weakness.

The thing I found most interesting from Witch Hunts was the focus on the use of religion by the persecutors of witches.

Quotes of the Old Testament from both Leviticus and Exodus are used as the law of God referring to witches.
The Catholic religion forwarded this view to increase its power and holdings through confiscation and penalties. After the reformation the Protestants allow this to continue giving them a group to look down on and persecute. As Christians who believed in the literal word of the bible they would have found it hard to believe any Christian would allow the use of these quotes today as the literal meaning of the word from the Bible is non-knowing sinners. It seems these groups of “witches” where a simple scapegoat for all those in power to increase their power while providing a convenient scapegoat for the masses. Any person who was involved would have to be right because they were a Christian and to commit the acts they had upon “witches” if they were not “witches’ would be unforgiveable by God. Thus this became a self-proving aspect of the persecution of witches. Apparently the words of Jesus Christ that he has brought a new covenant and all that was will be forgiven are not important or more plainly just ignored. These arguments are still used today by many who commit atrocities and seek absolution from their fellow man as well as the God they pray to. There have been many groups of “witches” throughout history, mostly just groups who are weak, different or just scapegoated for convenience.

This week’s reading journal is on Witch Hunts by Rocky Wood, Lisa Morton, and Greg Chapman.

I found this a fun read and informative, I was shocked how long and how many countries have had witch-hunts and how many people died mostly women. I found it disturbing and appalling that this kind of behavior could go on for so long with so many killings, but at the end of the book they remind us of the witch-hunts in the 1940’s but they were communist which-hunts.
I should also mention the drawings where very good as well.

This novel really captures the hysteria of the witch hunts altogether, not just focusing on the events in Salem specifically. It jumps around from Salem to Europe and beyond. One thing I found interesting is how in some towns, they killed off so many proposed witches, that the town couldn’t even function anymore and just died off. It seems like they were killing themselves without knowing it from some crazy innate fear that everyone seemed to have.

The graphics in the book also bring to life the brutality and torture that was so prominent. The author Rocky Wood was wise in not focusing too much on the graphic horror aspect and really labeling it for what it was. He recognized the despicable period for what it was: a mistake brought on by superstition and lust for power.

I am a sucker for graphic novel. Not just any graphic novels, ones that involved telling the story of history.
So much is revealed through both word and pictures that I find it essential to involve both in the retelling of history. The most shocking insight I received was that one crazy man’s words continued to influence society’s beliefs and fueled fears for centuries. The witch hunts destroy both the economic well-being of kingdoms and many innocent lives. This idea of witch hunts I first thought was a “small” event in human history instead I learned it was a weapon for the greedy to control both women and wealth for hundreds of years. The pictures are extremely vivid. I never understood the extent of the torture used to force a confession until reading this book. Both women and men were humiliated while being stripped of their dignity praying for death to quickly come. This time is history disguises me.

I was moved by this book in such a way that I will never allow this type of injustice to occur while I am alive.
These events in history are why it is so important for people to understand power literature and how words can destroy.

In the book

Witch Hunts, I found

it interesting that, Joan of Arc was a woman who was visited by saints and they asked her to drive the English away from France and by relieving a prophecy about the military victory she was granted a visit to the Dauphin. Joan of Arc asked to travel as a knight so that God could lead them to victory. She was a very strong willed woman who won a lot of battles because of it. Joan of Arc seemed to help France by winning so many battles but was later abandoned and not helped by the people that she helped. She ended up being sold to the English and burned at the stake for dressing like a man.

I have been waiting for the chance to journal about Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times. I find a couple things while reading and examining this book. The first thing I noticed is how much the book coincides with our other Salem witch trials book, “The Salem Witch Trials Reader”. It feels like these two books go in a similar order or pattern. They touch base on many of the same topics and ideals. I would have thought these two books were written by the same authors and wonder if “The Salem Witch Trials Reader” would have included illustrations if they would have been similar. The second thing I have found with Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times is that the illustrations are as stated, graphic but also disturbing. The illustrations help captivate all I have so far read about the Salem witch trials and help me the reader, imagine myself in the time period. It is what I imagine while reading about the Salem witch trials. However, I feel while reading this book a deeper connection to those who were directly affected by the Salem witch trials. The book illustrates the evil, humiliation, horror and terror of the burning times. Seeing the faces painted with complete terror and others with anger and evil grinning faces and then remembering that these awful events actually took place in a country I love, in the state of Massachusetts in which I have family and frequent often, sickens me. What bothers me the most is thinking of the poor children of those times, and what they faced and were led to believe. It is unthinkable, unimaginable and horrific.

All I can think about when I read anything about the witch trials is the way they treated each other it shocks me that these people with such high moral standards could treat anyone so cruelly and unjustly. All of this happened because of something that equals to gossip and then hundreds of people died not only in this country but Britain as well. I would really like to know what the Church of England is teaching because honestly it is not tolerance. Come on women and children were persecuted they had to know morally it was wrong. Did they not look at women as the weaker sex or children as innocent?

Honestly if they were looking for the devil they needed to look in themselves first because that’s where he was hiding in their souls not the souls of the women they hanged.


To me this book was very interesting and informative of how and when the thought of witchcraft developed accusing thousands who ultimately lost their lives under immense brutality. I find it so hard to believe, that a choice few could disrupt the lives of many, with the intentions of most accusers, being greed, wealth and status as the driving force. It really shows how democracy and a judicial system are so very important in our lives today. I really liked how the book put things into perspective, and how it showed the delusions of people looking for answers to their own problems. Could it be that men in general, were afraid of women (knowledge of Venus) and the impact women had on them sexually, reinforced by others who thought of them as a demon? I read somewhere in the book, that beautiful women who were voluptuous were targeted, especially by Kramer, who stated witchcraft comes from carnal lust and is insatiable. He concocted a bible called the Malleus Maleficarum, which was later used to help identify, interrogate and convict witches. He wrote this to challenge any arguments against the existence of witchcraft. It wasn’t until some countries economy began to become impaired that the whole affair was looked at in a different perspective and eventually paved the way to stop the nonsense in how people were convicted and then executed.

I cannot believe the thousands of people that were tried, convicted, condemned and executed on myths of witchcraft and superhuman powers. Furthermore, why is it that if these individuals were indeed witches and possessed superhuman powers as it was perceived, why didn’t they put spells or hardships on those that were condemning them and why was this not looked at before executing them that maybe in fact, they were not superhuman or practicing witchcraft. I know if I was condemned or convicted as a witch and had powers to perform witchcraft, those that accused me and condemned me would have perished along side of me, because.... I have the power as they so say.

For centuries the Malleus Maleficarum was used like a Bible in the prosecution of witches, resulting in the deaths of countless men and women. Y et more interesting is the roots of this book which defined the ways of telling who was a witch. Had early people considered the background of the authors, they may very well have thought twice about resting their opinions and decisions based on it. While Jacob Sprenger was a well-known scholar, Heinrich Kramer was anything but. Known as a crazed witch hunter who had been chased from numerous villages on account of his false accusations, Kramer had a foul reputation. Many questioned his aggressive torture tactics, sexual obsessions, and hatred of women – a foul recipe for a book about witch hunting. Clearly the people would have been much wiser to have first considered where the book they were using as instruction had come from.

What I find to be intriguing is how Wood focuses on what the witches did wrong and how those in charge dealt with the deaths of those witches. What I did not like was how in the book when a witch would confess their wrongs they would still kill the witch. I would have liked to see those in charge give the witch a chance to prove themselves as a human being. Who can change from being a witch to a human being that does wrong and can rebuild relationships and change from their sinful ways of living and acting despite the wrong down to them. I see how Wood as an author needs to defend himself and provide his readers with an interesting book that is going grab the reader and provide the reader with what the reader wants to get out of the book.

As the year 1244 started who would have guessed that such a plague as the killing of supposed witches would take seed in Europe and spread like a fire across the continent. It would seem that no one would be immune from the accusations that anyone could level against even their closest of friends and relatives. This account of the horrible things that where done to people does not astound me. It only proves that people have all through the past been given to a depraved mind, and will go to great lengths to prove what they believe. I see a resounding theme of torture through this novel, mostly aimed against women, to accomplish the ends sought. Whether it was a confession or a naming of someone who they where in ‘cohorts’ with, the brutality of the torture is brought to life in this novel by use of the illustrations. Women are humiliated and men are mercilessly tortured and then killed in various manners. What struck me the most was the look on the faces of the victims in each frame, from dumbfounded to shock, and then progressing to indescribable horror. To think that we as humans propagated such malignancies on each other, even so many centuries ago saddens me for thinking that people might have a sense of common humanity that could instill compassion. The lack of knowledge and sound judgment seems to spring up year after year. With this, the ability to ascribe certain events as supernatural could be part of all this. So as the torture increased, it would only seem logical that someone would confess to rid themselves of the intense pain and suffering that they where experiencing. To accompany this, as years progressed their always seemed to be a prominent figure to surface to keep these witch hunts going. Kramer and Sprenger, to Cotton Mather, the frenzy seemed never to ebb. What is peculiar is the accuser Jehan went vehemently accused people and the relative of the accused took matters into his own hands and killed him. Justice had found a small outlet. With this the King pardoned him, whew. The illustrations give a strong representation of the horror that was going on during these times. As generations have passed, certain atrocities stand out in history, but I think this is one that overlooked. Possibly it is because it spans generations, but surely it has all the components of a very dark time in history. I know many people focus on the ethnic cleansing in Germany, as well as the Serb and Croatian conflicts. Even still, torturing, and burning someone at the stake so that they suffer immensely, lives up to this standard. Regardless whether it happened in the middle ages or today it is still an unfathomable evil.

Page 4 of the book it says that the church doesn’t believe in witches. That killing a witch will forfeit its own life. As I’m reading I’m appalled at what this says. It says they can’t believe in witchcraft so they can’t even say people do it, yet they did. Then they say killing someone will forfeit their own life, and then they say they should torture people into confessions. It says some people dies during torture.

It was hard to pick one thing that stuck me, as page 29 it discusses someone eating their own children. Did this really happen? I don’t think I realized that witch trials happened in England and other countries! I thought it was just here. I also thought it was interesting on Kramer thought witches came from lust, yet if I read correctly he lusted for these women. So wouldn’t he too be considered a witch?

I liked this book!

The section of this book that I found most intriguing and interesting was Chapter 1: Before the Trials. Alyse Y oung was the first colonists to suffer death, which after five years of witchcraft became an offense in the Colonies in Connecticut (Wood, pg. 2). Alyse was the first witch executed in North America at the Meeting House Square in Hartford, but she definitely wasn’t the last witch. A lot of accused witches were hunted down around Europe and executed.

witchcrafts were like, and how history has changed dramatically into a better world. Some believed in witches and some did not, which is how the world is today. Some people believe in things and some don’t, it’s just the way people’s opinions are. This chapter gave a little taste on how the book is going to be, and definitely intrigued me to read more!

(Wood, pg. 2). I liked this chapter because it gave a brief look on how the

Everyone believed back then that witches existed, but the Holy Church was one that did not believe. If witches did not exist, they could not be believed in; this was an attempt to remove Pagan beliefs from Christendom

I thought the Witch Hunts book would be another wordy college book, but I was wrong.
This book goes into great detail with what took place during the witch-hunts by using great graphic art. I love how it looks like a comic, it’s much easier to read and not put it down to do something else. The book almost puts you in the same time period like you were there when it was happening. My favorite page was 33 when they were getting tortured; it really told me that these witches didn’t need to be tortured like this. There are always other ways to get information out of someone. Usually the police now a days just get people to talk by putting a light onto there face and that enough to get them to say something. To put a candle up to someone’s face is kind of over the top.

One of things that really intrigued me from the readings from Witch Hunts is the origins of witchcraft. The early church did not hold beliefs in witchcraft, insisting it was criminal to believe that witches existed. The early churches stance on witchcraft was a means to keep pagan beliefs outside of Christianity. In the early 13th and 14th century the fundamental beliefs of Catholicism came under scrutiny. Those who held opposing views to the church were charged with sorcery and slaughtered. Inquisitions of Church politics and practices lead to the addition of witchcraft to a list of growing problems by Pope John XXII in 1320. Shortly after, the first trials of witchcraft followed. Accusations of sorcery and witchcraft ran rapid through medieval Europe. Witchcraft became a scapegoat for societal problems; those accused were tortured until they confessed. It is disheartening to think that witchcraft arose as a means to persecute against people with opposing beliefs. The same church that had held firmly to the belief that “killing a supposed witch will forfeit your life” (Wood, 4), was now killing a “witch” for questioning faith.

I want to start this reading journal by saying that I really enjoyed how the book was laid out. I enjoyed how it was almost like a comic strip. This book also brought the witch trials to life for me. I am more a visual learner, so seeing step-by-step what happened, really brought everything together for me. I was most intrigued by was how they saw if a witch was touched by the devil’s tongue. I am just blown away by these people who call themselves church members, and force people to strip down and be searched for the devils touch. It all seems to me as if the church members aren’t really part of the church. In today’s society it would be looked down upon.

So, when I first saw this book on the list of required readings, I had no idea that it was a graphic novel. I was delighted on several levels because the content is right up my alley as is the illustration, which is outstanding. I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that the book deals with witchcraft across Europe and the US and goes into detail regarding the early days of witchcraft and religion. In particular was page 4 where there is a picture of a man about to behead a woman suspected of being a witch. The word bubbles scattered among the page made me fall in love with this book. First, the box at the top of the page states, “Though the Old Testament is drastic in its condemnation of witchcraft, death by stoning, the early Church said witches were not real-they did not exist.” As I read this all I could think was how different history would have been had the church retained that way of thinking. Second, as the monk on the page cautions the man to stop, his explanation of why is quite telling. The word box over his head implies that he says to the man, “It is criminal to believe witches exist, for the Holy Church knows they do not. Remember the Law-killing a supposed witch will forfeit your life.” I was surprised to hear that the killing of a witch would mean the forfeiture of one’s life. It seems so foreign to think that at one point— historically—it was a punishable offense to kill a suspected witch.

The hunting and persecution of witches takes such a predominant role in the history of the treatment of witches and practitioners of witchcraft and Pagan rituals. It is unfortunate that this law did not follow witches throughout history.
The third piece, and my favorite, was the word box on the bottom of the page: “This was an attempt to remove Pagan beliefs from Christendom-if witches did not exist they could not be believed in.” Amen to the first part! I have always been of the opinion that people were accused of witchcraft as a result of the church fearing that which they did not understand or have control over—those who followed the pagan religion. The practitioners of Pagan beliefs and rituals were demonized as soon as Christianity began to spread and conquer many rural areas of Europe. I’m going to stop myself here in order to prevent myself from getting on a soapbox. Instead, I will simply say that I have many feelings and opinions on this topic and am so pleased to have yet another resource that discusses this topic in great detail and with such beautiful accompaniment in the form of graphic illustrations.

The book Witch Hunts delves into the fear and superstition surrounding witchcraft and examines the recurring themes behind the accusations which were based on “greed, envy, revenge, and intolerance” (WH 3). The reader is taken on an illustrated journey detailing the history of witches and the persecution of the accused. This comprehensive journey begins with the Old Testament and ends with the Salem witch trials. The Old Testament attempted to do away with paganism and “was drastic in its condemnation of witchcraft” (WH 4). Paganism was seen as a rejection of God, therefore the church declared that witches did not exist. However, it is written in Exodus that the penalty for witchcraft is death by stoning. It seems that the church’s reasoning was, if it is decreed that witches are not real than in affect, paganism is not real. The persecution of witches lasted for decades in Europe and soon made its way to the new world. The book highlights famous witch hunters such as Heinrich Kramer and Matthew Hopkins. Kramer wrote the book wrote “The Witch-Hunters Bible”. This book was used in the accusation and condemnation of the accused. The horror of the witch hunts is graphically depicted throughout this novel. The accused are often seen as outsiders in the community. The categorization of these people is based on intolerance by the community. Throughout Europe different groups were ostracized due to their religious beliefs. In Germany in 1581, accusations were made against “Protestants, Jews, and witches” (WH 83). These executions led to valuable property being seized and children being exiled from their families. However, the executions also led to financial gain for court officials and executioners. This bias, along with greed, led to many victims being executed under the false pretense of witchcraft. In 1688, the town of Salem began to experience unexplained phenomenon accredited to witchcraft. Young girls began having “fits” and claiming to be attacked by witches. The first woman to be accused of being a witch was Tituba, an Indian slave woman owned by the Samuel Parris family. The young girls claimed that Tituba had taught them spells and bewitched and haunted them at night. Tituba was soon arrested and after intense questioning admitted to being a witch and named other women as witches as well. The reader is fortunate to be able to examine the facts surrounding Tituba’s arrest. Samuel Parris was a new minister in Salem, and not well liked in the community. Minister Parris made many demands in the community including the title to the parsonage. Tituba was an Indian woman. In Salem village, Indians were feared and considered to be cohorts of the devil. The two women who Tituba accused were outsiders in the village -- Sarah Good was a “homeless beggar” and Sarah Osborne was “widely disliked”. Again we see the theme of intolerance which leads to the accusations of persons who do not fit into the norm of Salem.

Witch Hunts is an excellent resource in depicting the original writings of a particular time period. With its use of graphics and dialogue, the reader is able to visualize the events in any given scene. It is also a great resource for the reader to view the whole picture and have an understanding of the culture during a particular time. Kramer and Hopkins as witch hunters led the way for the persecution of numerous peoples. Kramer’s book served as a guide for the accusations of people based on reasons of greed, envy, revenge, and intolerance.

Torture is the main reason so many people were convicted of being witches during the witch hunts in all different countries. Without torture, most likely no one would have confessed to being a witch or consorting with the devil. The judges and juries would have had to find other ways to prove someone was witch, and there really was no other proof besides a confession. At the beginning of the trials in Aquitaine in 1351, two women, Elisabeth Leclerc and Lady Sophia, were accused of being witches and were arrested and imprisoned. There they were tortured and forced to confess (p. 13) and then sentenced to burn at the stake. This was the beginning of the trials and all of the torture and killing. In August of 1428, the trials began in Sion. If three people denounced someone, they were to be arrested. If they did not confess to sorcery or witchery, they were tortured until they did (p. 25). Peasants were accused regularly, and were tortured until they confessed (p. 27). Many continued to deny being witches and refused to confess during the torture, and they would eventually be killed by the torture and were still judged as witches (p. 28). It didn’t matter what they did, either confessing or denying, they still had the same fate. In the 1480’s, Heinrich Kramer wrote the Malleus Maleficarum which was the most influential witch hunting bible of the Middle Ages (p. 62). In it, Kramer gave lots of ways for the accused to be convicted of heresy, witchery, or sorcery. Including the justification for torture, that a witch can’t be condemned unless she confesses, and in order to get her to confess, they may torture her (p. 70). In Germany in 1623, the accusations and torturing continued. The Prince-Bishop even condemned his own nephew, who admitted to confessing, but only under torture, he continued to proclaim his innocence, but his confession was upheld and his sentence stood. (p. 92). In 1629, a man named Friedrich Spee went to Wurzburg, Germany to help with getting confessions; he watched and assisted in confessions being obtained by torture (p. 95). In Scotland in 1590, there were hundreds accused of witchcraft. The common form of torture was thrawing which was when ropes were placed around the neck and men pulled on each rope yanking the accused back and forth violently (p. 108). This made the accused confess and name others as witches as well (p. 109). Another method used was the “bootes” in which they attached wooden boards around the accused calves and then hammered wedges in them crushing the legs (p 120). It is no wonder that so many people confessed, with all of these methods of torture. And if they didn’t confess, many would die during the torturing. There was no winning once you were accused of being a witch or sorcerer, you were likely to die. If there hadn’t been all of this torture, many people wouldn’t have been convicted of being witches but that doesn’t mean the witch trials wouldn’t have occurred.

“Neighbor now accused neighbor”. Throughout the book Rocky Wood paints a disturbing picture of the accused being charged based on spectral evidence. Neighbors began accusing neighbors based on grudges and disagreements. Many of the trials included statements based on dreams rather than viable evidence. For instance in the case of Bridget Bishop was accused of “sexually tormenting men in their dreams.” In the case of John and Elizabeth Proctor, Mary Warren stated “...In my dream he forced me to touch the devil’s book.” Near the end of the book, the frenzy fades, has an accused witch held for 14 months after clearly stating that she was guilty of disliking Ursula Reinbold. It wasn’t until the last chapter that the legitimacy of the trials was even questioned. Friedrich Spee, Christian Thomasius and Alonso de Salazar Frias begin to argue the use of torture in pretrial confessions. In chapter X, Wood describes the art of “witch testing”. “Witch Prickers” would provide false testing in order to receive monetary income. Before the mass trial at Bury St Edmonds the jury caught word of “ill Arts” being used to coerce confessions. With how Rocky Wood describes the actions taken by so many to receive a guilty verdict, who wouldn’t be fearful for their lives. Neighbors, who had grudges against neighbors making false accusations to gain property, money and revenge. In some cases people accused others in order to avoid being accused themselves of witchcraft. In a time when religion was a way of life, the questioning of one’s faith was in fact a life or death accusation. For instance being a poor Irish Catholic in a Puritan area could enable people to falsely accuse you of practicing witchcraft solely on the difference of faith. This was the case of Anne Glover. In the 17th century, several “thinkers” began to question the role of religion in society. As the word spread, the cessation of witch hunts and executions began to end. To be accused of sorcery or witchcraft automatically meant torture, suffering and ultimately death. For many, this meant years upon years of torture. They describe physical as well as mental torture techniques. Today we have a much better understanding of the human psyche and know that information and confessions gathered by the use of torture is unreliable. How many people, falsely accused, reached their pain threshold and told the accusers what they wanted to hear.In many of the pictures or artistic interpretations have the accusers smiling and laughing as if they had satisfied some act of revenge or hatred towards those being executed. This book, successfully demonstrated the ignorance, evil intentions of many ‘Christians’ during the Salem witch trials.

The Salem witch trials were a dark time in our countries history and we killed our own people at the expense of being ‘safe’ from the dark arts of witchcraft. Wood wrote a powerful nonfiction novel that was able to feature stories and historical evidence into it and give people a book to give them information on the subject of the witch trials. It was a great novel that replaced the fear of superstition and witchcraft with that of science and proving witchcraft was foolish to believe in, in the first place. Witch craft was a foolish belief and science was able to prove it wrong. People were accused of being witches and most of the time they would just take the blame because there wasn’t much they could do to defend themselves. Often times if there was even the smallest of evidence on the accused, they would be found guilty and have no defense for themselves and they would die and be ‘cleansed’ of the evil. Wood speaks of the Black Death and his novel links it to some of the witch craft and they were accused for being at the source of it. They would be accused and put on trial, after generally failing their trials they would be sentenced to death. After a while it became looked and studied upon more frequently and eventually science had ruled out over the accusations and people were made more aware of how foolish it was that they had believed in witch craft. It was looked at as a massacre of our own people for killing them and accusing them of foolish pretenses. People were beginning to understand that witch craft doesn’t exist and they were wrong to believe it and sentence their own citizens to death. In a time that is darker than most in our history we were able to get passed it and move on as a nation and understand the mistakes we had made. The witch trials were a dark time for us and they were a moment we had to get through it and understand we had made mistakes on executing our own. Wood wrote Witch Hunts and he points out that science had been able to dominate the superstitions that people used to have when it came to dark magic and witch craft. The novel makes it clear that people were killed because they were accused for simple things and people would make accusations because they were jealous or they actually did believe someone was a witch. Witchcraft was a foolish belief and science was able to prove it wrong.

This essay is about the book Witch Hunts by Rocky Wood, Greg Chapman, Lisa Morton. The book starts out before the trails, talking about the Alyse Young the first witch to be hung in North America, then turns to the dark ages of Europe and witch hunter Heinrich Kramer, the author of the Malleus Maleficarum the “Witch-Hunter’s Bible.” (WH P-3) It does not take very long to learn in the readings of this book that most of all the killing in this book, if not all were for many other reasons other than witchcraft. Reasons such as intolerance; dislike for no other reason than the difference that one may have or an oddity that may not be welcome by others, or old arguments ended by someone calling another a witch. Greed was the reason for many a death because a witch, or should I say an accused witch had a piece of land that other’s wanted or as witch hunters came to be they made their living by finding, torturing, getting confession by torture, and having the courts dissolve the said witch’s property, and paying the witch hunters, some were paid by towns. Envy is another way that accused witches met their fate envy good be similar to greed but the envy more on personal since, a wife or husband that another wants or desired or maybe a job or title. Revenge, what better way to seek revenge than to say that one’s neighbor is a witch, or that the neighbor conjures sickness, or that the he has made spells against your crops. I think from the reading one of biggest reasons for most of the witch hunts was a hatred against women or a perversion against women, these woman where stripped and tortured for many hours sometimes days. The readings indicate the some of the tortures enjoyed humiliating the accused witch who would soon confess under the pressure of relentless torture. I learned a lot about the witch trails and hunts by reading this book but what stands out the most would be in the last pages of this book. (WHP-182) In 2010 150-200 women in India were killed there each year after being labeled witches, and of course paraded naked through their village humiliated before being lynched for there property. In closing this was an eye opening experience reading this book, it is hard to believe what happened all those years ago and the to find out that this is still happening to people today, and think that just a few short years ago that right here in the great United states of America we had witch hunts, all one had to say is that you or I were communist and we were hunted by the government, so are the witch hunts really over?

many women who crossed his path. Kramer’s hatred of women is revealed in a sexual nature through his text. Throughout his career he often accused women and when he brought them to the court room his language was deep- seeded with hate that would fuel centuries of witch trials. Heinrich Kramer hatred was one of the pillars of the witch hunts. Kramer was quick to have an answer to the popular view that witches did not really exist. He tried using reasoned argument and quoting from various trials and interrogations to prove his point of view. His book continues on about lurid sexual detail explaining why most witches were women. He believed that all witchcraft comes from carnal lust, and which is in women insatiable and for this reason they cavort with devils 1. Kramer argued that women were naive, impressionable and their love for gossip made women weaker than men. He also believed that women enjoyed sex more than men and this made women corrupt. Kramer was mad with power created from his book. He gained authority from the Papal Bull given by Pope Innocent VIII. Women both rich and poor felt Kramer’s hatred of women. Kramer’s language in court was towards women was appalling. Kramer often talked of sex in an open courtroom and both the Bishop and the audience find this deplorable. He once said, “These adulterous drabs and whores drain the very being from the men they glamour, fornicating naked at night in the forest, wallowing venereal pleasure.”2 Rumors would circulate in different towns time and again about Kramer’s interrogation techniques. One of his most famous techniques included spending hours alone with female prisoners. His hatred of women was found in every aspect of the Malleus Maleficarum. Kramer set up the justifications for torture within his book. As confession obviously meant guilt, those who would not confess must be tortured. He believed that women should be stripped in public because it “stripped” women of an honest reputation. For common justice demands that a witch should not be condemned to death unless she is convicted by her own confession and witches were being questioned many were frequently exposed to torture, ensuring many convictions. Kramer’s book is thought to be one of the pillars for centuries of witch trials. His words influenced the hunt of innocent women and men putting them on trial with little hope to escape conviction. Heinrich Kramer’s hatred of women helped to carry out a number of deaths and convictions that continued on for centuries. This book ripped women from their families all because of one man’s hate. Kramer’s Malleus Maleficarum allowed the fear of witches to become forever ingrained in our culture.
1 Witch Hunts Pg. 63 2 Witch Hunts Pg. 61

The most influential witch hunter, Heinrich Kramer’s, hatred of women drove him to write Malleus Maleficarum. Kramer’s dark obsession lead to the trials, tribulations, and the death of

Starting out in a maiden village, and also being a woman, Joan of Arc completely transformed herself and France. After all of her hard work paid off she helped, crown a reluctant king, rallied broken people, reversed the course of a great war, and changed history, she made a name for herself. No one can ever defeat what she achieved at such a young age. How was Joan of Arc different from any other heroic woman in the time of the witch trials? Through all the hardships and blood, Joan of Arc was a fierce warrior and led the French to complete victory by making an absolutely spectacular moral impact to everyone, even if they were against the fact she has a special gift, or by all her military victories and the loyalty and devotion she gave, which also helped all her soldiers believe in themselves (Joan of Arc – distinguished woman). When Joan of Arc was just twelve, she began having visions of different Angels and hearing voices from the Saints and God (Wood 33). From what she heard from them, she made a sacred promise to always stay a virgin and also disobeyed her father even though he had warned her not to be influenced by this foolishness. Once Joan turned nineteen, she was on trial for claims of witchcraft. This claim was made even though she had saved France. Joan of Arc endured on many different adventures and she inspired others and showed she was no different even though she was a girl which made her a very bold woman. Joan of Arc used the voices and spirits that she heard to figure out what she was supposed to do. Whenever she wept and felt hopeless, they helped bring her to her feet. This encouragement built up much self confidence in Joan to become a fearless leader. Joan’s first experience at war was at the age of sixteen. It was April 29th, 1429 and Battle of Orleans had just begun. This was the French’s most important battle. Orleans was the main city stopping Charles to reach Rheims which would crown him King and was the English’s strongest hold, but Joan had a plan to show that she was there for a reason (Joan of Arc – Middle Ages) Her army attacked the Burgandy Gate first with Joan leading the army holding up the banner she had made. The banner was a design of Jesus Christ on a cloud holding the world and Michael and Gabriel (the Angels that spoke to her) on each side of him each holding a flower. Joan’s luck finally ran out on an attack against the Burgundian force. As she was trying to escape, she fell off of her horse and was captured. She spent four months in prison, and then was taken in for trial. She was accused of falsely bringing Charles to the throne. Joan was accused of dressing like a man and also for using witchcraft. At that time she still had hope (Wood 30). Joan of Arc suffered a rape situation and was then put to rest on a stake in the town of Rouen. Joan impacted France and the world by creating a national perception that never existed before and became a strong willed personality that embraced all who looked up to her. Not only the battles Joan won for France and bringing alive a great King, but she is remembered for her excellent leadership, even when she was shot down, and fighting and dying for what she stood for.

Reading Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times was disturbing. It is graphic just as its title states, but its contents are also hard to swallow.

Like many other books written about the Salem witch trials, this book covers the many stories of the Trials, but, this book is different. This book can be set apart by the approach the authors have taken with the use of the illustrations that are presented in this short book. It gives a reader a deeper perspective by using sheer horrific, long lasting imagery. Speculation, vision, approach, descriptiveness, religion, sin, guilt, and innocence were all detrimental portions of the witch trials both then and now. People can argue that books written are a matter of speculation and written without actual factual data, however it is much harder to turn the other cheek when images accompany the speculation, same can be said for seeking blame for the witch trials. Could the majority of the Salem witch trials blame be placed on one person? One person who actually never committed punishable crime? Sometimes the beliefs and words of one come out in the actions of others, this book allows the reader to not only read about it, but to see it.

Heinrich Kramer was the author of Malleus Maleficarum which was also known as the “Witch Hunter’s Bible”, it was written in 1486 was not only speculation of women and witchery, but also the speculation that these women were worthless, useless, evil whores who deserved nothing. Many could argue that the contents of the “Witch Hunter’s Bible” fed into the mindset of the accusers and pushed witch craft punishment into the evil depths it reached. This book was the mere opposite of The Holy Bible and yet it beckoned followers just the same. Witch hunters were evil and yet with dedication and determination they themselves became a group, a cult. Heinrich Kramer was a sick notorious, evil monster, a leader. The evil he evoked is mimicked in throughout entire book Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times. While turning the pages in Witch Hunts, ideas and stories written with words which some argue are out of speculation and beliefs now come to life. They jump of the page at you and refuse to be ignored. They do this with the use of words accompanied by disturbing imagery. The notorious Kramer lives on throughout the evil depicted in the story and images. Kramer’s beliefs snowballed and created frenzy. The evil imagery depicted all shadows Kramer and his beliefs. No one person can entirely be blamed for the horrific events of the Salem witch trials. However, one can speculate that while Kramer himself did not torture or kill the witches, he was the driving force behind them, he was the cult leader. Irony at its finest to claim that one is seeking out evil and cults praying on others fears, only to be a fearful evil leader of one far worse.

Why have our views about witchcraft changed and why people have in developed countries stop hunting witches? I think the main answer to that question is our view for the most part on religion has changed. We now look to science and technology for answers instead of religion. As you read the book Witch Hunts you start to realize that as time changed so did our view on women and religion. During the 1400’s-1800’s people turned to religion for answers to all the questions that they did not have answers to and they also used religion to help them settle the score with people they disliked. One of the best examples in the book of someone using religion as a power to get rid of women because of his distaste for them, is Heinrich Kramer. He disliked women so much that he decided the only way to cleanse the world of them was by writing a book called the Malleus Maleficarum. This book told people how to spot a witch and how they should be punished. This book became very popular and was used in manyother places in the world as an example of how to treat a person who was tried for witch craft. His hatred was so strong it spread far and wide and was basically used as a handbook on how to treat and who could be a witch. Nowadays if a book like that was released the public would be outrageous. There would be a protest and we would not believe it and why is that? Because we have faith in science much like they did with religion. If we take a look at places that still try and punish witches they tend to be third world countries were there views are very much the same as the people during the times of the witch hunts. These people also do not have very much technology around them and have very limited schooling. The ways people form their opinon in these third world countries is much the same way people in the times of the witch hunts formed theirs - based mostly on myth passed on from their ancestors and from their religion, which is the driving force in their life. As time moved on and the church started playing less and less a part of people’s lives and information became more accessible, people stopped fearing the church and started thinking for themselves. They no longer needed people to do their thinking for them. They started realizing that women were the fairer species and that despite that they were not making pacts with the devil. When schooling became more important and people became educated we started realizing that science can’t prove that magic exists and if we cannot see it how can we prove it. Personally I’m glad we changed our views because if we had not a whole lot of innocent people would still be dieing for a made up affliction.

The witchcraft hysteria that finally spread to the North American colonies in the late 1600’s was used as a form of revenge or self preservation in the village of Salem, Massachusetts. A couple of young girls accused people who they felt had slighted them. Once the hysteria caught hold more girls joined and even women joined in the antics that caused the deaths of those convicted of witchcraft. The main accusers who started the whole uproar were Betty Parris and her cousin Abigail Williams. These two girls began “screaming, assuming unnatural positions and complaining of being pinched and pricked with pins” (p. 140) in January of 1692. Their hysterical antics caught the attention of other young girls in the village and ultimately caused them to join in. Among the accused some were disliked or had grudges held against them by the accusers. Sarah Osborne was widely disliked and was one of the first to be accused. Others who cried foul play or supported the accused were also accused such as Martha Corey when she raised doubts about the accusations against Sarah Good. George Burroughs was a previous minister of Salem and he was also accused. This could be because of an old grudge that had formed against him or that many of those on the jury hated him. He was also convicted and sentenced to death. The constable of Salem John Willard was also accused because he refused to arrest those who were wildly accused. Another reason people were accused was the accused’s attempts at saving themselves by accusing others. This is true in the case of George Jacobs Sr. who was hanged after his granddaughter accused him trying to escape the gallows. Another case is that of Martha Carrier whose children gave her up after being tortured. When you take away all the godly references in the Salem witch trials is burns down to the fact that these accusations were made to seek revenge or to keep oneself from swinging from the gallows. The acts of a few selfish girls and ambitious men caused a mass hysteria that resulted in the deaths of many innocent people. The number hanged doesn’t even take in to account the number of accused who died in prison awaiting their trial.

Witchcraft has existed since ancient times and among all peoples and cultures as early as 775A.D. Given the fact that witchcraft had existed more or less undisturbed since ancient times, an analysis of, the witch persecutions brings about the question of why they erupted at the particular time in which they did when religious churches had a lot of power. Witchcraft has been applied to practices that people believed, influenced the mind, body, or property of others against their will. Although there was a belief in witch-craft and magic during the Early and Late Middle Ages, it was always of local incidence and the Catholic Church had taken great pains to suppress it, claiming that belief in witch-craft was superstition and had no place in Christian theology. Though the Old Testament is drastic in its condemnation of witchcraft, calling for death by stoning, the early Church said witches were not real-they did not exist (Rocky Wood, 2012). The religious and political movement of 16th-Century Europe that began as an attempt to reform the Roman Catholic Church and resulted in the establishment of the Protestant Churches was the beginning of a nightmare involving witchcraft where tens of thousands of people were executed. The religion of the ruler in most areas determined the religion of the people. Anyone that had an opinion which was contrary to the beliefs and position of a religious church and didn’t conform to the principles of the church were considered heretics. These believers maintained religious opinions contrary to those accepted by his or her church and rejected doctrines and rules that were prescribed by that church. In the 16th- and 17thcenturies, religion permeated every aspect of individual’s lives. Religion determined who you were, who you married, who your friends were, your chances of political freedom and economic success, your very existence (Hurry). It took the Church a long time to persuade society that women were inclined toward evil witchcraft and devil-worship. Reversing its policy of denying the existence of witches, in the thirteenth century the Church began depicting the witch as a slave of the devil. No longer was she or he to be associated with an older pagan tradition. No longer was the witch to be thought of as benevolent healer, teacher, wise woman, or one who accessed divine power. She was now to be an evil satanic agent. (Ellerbe). Witchcraft had been practiced for hundreds of years, and was thought of as, a collection of beliefs and practices that included healing through spells, mixing ointments or some other types of concoctions, experimenting in the supernatural, or forecasting the future, and it was not looked at as evil or having a pact with the devil, before the 14th Century. In the late 14th Century a man by the name of Nicolau Eymerich wrote a book on sorcery defining witchcraft. He divided sorcery into three categories, consisting of worshipping the demon, praying to a god other than the Virgin Mary or a Saint and seeking the aid of a demon or devil (Rocky Wood, 2012). Eymerich’s claims were very influential especially to a man by the name of Heinrich Kramer and his writings of the Malleus Maleficarum. Heinrich Kramer was thought to have an extreme amount of hatred toward women. Witches and wizards could be inducted to the Devil’s service in private agreement; or in conclaves. On every page, Kramer poured out his proof’s in blunt sexual terminology and with clear hatred for all women (Rocky Wood, 2012). Here also, Heinrich Kramer used verses from the Bible and the Church which was at the height of its power, to his advantage to promote his writings and the execution of many, mostly women. As this paper will show and in concluding this paper, it is obvious, that during this dark time in history, religion played a very important and detrimental part in the hysteria of witchcraft and the prosecution, condemnation and the execution of many that were accused of being witches. It was an effort by the church to seek out and punish heretics and try to force them into changing their beliefs. Witchcraft accusations were also used by many to promote their status, wealth and reputations.

The punishment of being stripped and searched for devil marks was common during the trials of females who wouldn’t confess to being witches. (pg. 107) Prosecutors already knew who was a witch and who wasn’t. After other females had gone through the prosecution process, they had given names of other witches who participated in witchcraft with them. Was stripping a woman and searching her body for devil marks considered a coax to pressure the females into confessing that they were witches? By pressuring the females into confessing that they were witches, made them release multiple names of fellow neighbors and friends that had also been licked by the Devil. (pg. 111) Were these Devil marks real, or a figment of the prosecutors imaginations to get the females to confess? Once these Devil marks were found on the females’ body, they were punished in many different ways. One way was the torture of thrawing. This was a Scottish torture which consists of ropes being wrapped around the neck of the witch, and tugging her back and forth. (pg. 108) Many of these confessions were led by the examiners, allowing for the witches to confess, but leading them up to the confession. (pg. 112) During the confession of Agnes Tompson, she explained how the witches had been in groups up to two hundred witches. These two hundred witches arrived in multiple different ways, but had kept the Devil waiting in a church until midnight. Upon arriving at the church, the Devil commanded that each witch kissed his behind. (pg. 115) Stripping a woman down and searching her body for the Devil’s mark, was how the prosecutors managed to get many of these females to confess to being a witch. Once the Devil’s mark was found the females would tend to confess to being a witch and give names of others who participated in witchcraft with them. Although this was not the only way a female would confess to being a witch, it was a contribution.

While the Salem witch trials may be the most popular witch hunts in North America, there is a long history of accused religious persecutions, witch hunts, and trials, which can aid in understanding why such a horrific event ever occurred. Witch Hunts, a book written by Rocky Wood, Lisa Morton, and Greg Chapman provides an adequate review of history’s contributions to the Salem Witch Trials by defining many contributing factors including religious views, famous witch hunters who set the pace, and numerous examples of witchcraft trials. The Salem witch trials began in Massachusetts among early Puritans whose worship rested purely on the Bible. Murder may be forbidden in the Bible, but the Old Testament condemns witchcraft, stating it a crime punishable by stoning the individual to death (Wood et al., 4). In addition many historical leaders, like Nicolau Eymerich, published their views that any worship not focused on God was blasphemous and Satan directed (Wood et al.,19-23). Repeat offenders must be burned to death (Wood et al., 21). Thus many early religious believers, including Puritans, felt they were protecting their religious beliefs and acting on the call of God by eradicating the evil around them. History is rich with many crusaders who enlisted on witch hunts, blaming the perils of the world on supposed witches. A victim need only be accused by three people to be tried for the crime of witchcraft (Wood et al.,25). Accused witches were often tortured in hopes of extracting the names of their affiliates. Persons accused by two or more “witches” were instantly arrested and tried, usually joining their neighbors at the gallows (Wood et al.,25). Many accused were deemed witches, thanks in part to Heinrich Kramer, author of the 15th Century book Malleus Maleficarum, a guide to detecting witches and their spells (Wood et al., 48). He painted most witches as women on account of their sexuality and desire to follow the devil (Wood et al., 63). What most people failed to consider was his lack of credibility, as even during his own life he was chased from town to town, deemed self-interested, seeking only for convictions to boost his reputation, and hated women (Wood et al., 50). His manuscript, called “The Hammer of Witches,” inspired countless witch hunts, even centuries later, by defining what a witch was, what they were capable of, and how to eradicate them (Wood et al., 78). Kramer’s theories persisted through to the 1600’s when the Malleus Maleficarum and other witch hunting guides sparked numerous witch trials spreading across Europe and Scotland (Wood et al., 127). Countless people were convicted of practicing witchcraft throughout Europe. The accused were subject to humiliating examinations in search of “devil’s marks” upon them (Wood et al., 135). Cruel torture was often inflicted upon the accused in efforts to extract confessions and have them name their accomplices (Wood et al., 108). But when torture was illegalized, the famous witch hunter Matthew Hopkins took things a step further by instituting the “swimming” test (Wood et al., 133). Accused witches were tied to chairs; if they floated they were found guilty of being witches; but if they sunk and drowned they were deemed innocent (Wood et al., 133). Hopkins documented his witch hunting rules in his book The Discovery of Witches (Wood et al., 137). This and other witch hunting books, would surface in New England colonies (Wood et al., 137, 139). The Salem witch trials were a conglomeration of numerous events unfolding throughout history. Religious beliefs left colonists in continual fear of Satan and his power. Misguided information confirmed their suspicions that witches serving the devil must be among them, when they were faced disturbing behavior/ailments they could not explain. Previous convictions and court cases served as models for how to prosecute witches and cleanse their community of evil. Unfortunately, the colonists themselves were victims to an evil history, but not as much as the victims who died wrongly accused.

Did those that were accused of being a witch do their best to prove themselves wrong? Witch Hunts is a book that speaks about the deaths of many witches after they themselves had worked very hard to repent of their wrongs. Some of these wrongs that they repented where not even involved with witch craft. They poured of their lives in many areas that they have wronged trying their best not to be harmed, never mind being to put to death because of a wrong that many of them had not committed but where accused of. Witch craft was very deadly. Where did the church stand in the mist of all this? The Catholic Church found out it was being accused, as well as many threats against the church. This affected the church as a whole. As well as the membership in the church was affected. Which affects the income coming into the church and lastly but not least and their core beliefs as a church where challenged. This challenged many involved in the church to where they stand in their faith or witch faith to follow hard after if any at all. Witchcraft could destroy a church. Many of those that were involved with the slaying of the witches had no compassion in them at all. This affects not only the one that is being accused, but it also affects current relationships and relationships in the future. Many of those who were being accused of being a witch did not have a chance to defend themselves. Many of them that were hanged where hanged with very little clothes on, their lives where stripped away for all the townspeople to see. The townspeople had very little compassion on them. Even when the witches where having their heads cut off, or where being burned they were standing by watching all this with not even a bit of compassion. When the witches where hung, each witch would do their best to say and act one last time with any words that could come out of their mouths, pleading for freedom. In the midst of all that was going on with the witches they where some involved that would befriend the witches and keep them safe as one would say “hide them” to protect them from being harmed. We are not put on this earth to be accused, punished and harmed for something that no one has not even done or be accused of doing. Those that were hiding them where trying to do a good deed. In the end of hiding those witches, that was hiding them where punished and wished upon with famines and wars. Even though each witch did their best to defend themselves they were still put to death.

Even though torture lead to many false confessions that only fueled the witchcraft frenzy, poor judgment and foul weather lead to the deaths of many people because the strong seas and weather between Scotland and Denmark created the perfect scapegoat for bringing witchcraft to blame for keeping princess Anne from James the First and the Scottish king had so much power that when he decided to hunt witches down, it become a massacre and tragedy because of his reach. King James I and Princess Anne of Demark where betrothed to married, by proxy so that there could be a union not only between their countries but also between the thrones. As Princess Anne embarked to meet James in Scotland, but fierce storms forced her shipped towards Norway. With the delay James decided to sail to Europe to collect his bride, and strangely enough his expedition had no issues in reaching Europe. After this quasi adventure, certain people told the King that they had secured a confession of a certain person (Anna Koldings) detailing the in essence; witchcraft was to blame for the Princesses waylaid journey. It seemed that the news of the witchcraft horrors and such had not reached the ears of King James I, and he was intrigued at first. No coincidence set aside, the couple set sail to return to Scotland and where turned aside by the weather. What neither understood, that storms at sea can be treacherous, so finding a simpler explanation to blame was much more convenient. After his ordeals, King James took a personal interest in witchcraft in his country and oversaw many of the interviews of the ‘supposed’ witches. The Scots had a particularly cruel method of torture called ‘thrawing’ where ropes in the shape of nooses are placed around the necks of the accused and they are wrenched back and forth, most assuredly producing much pain and anguish. How could a normal person withstand such torment without breaking mentally and say anything just to make the pain stop? This, though a logical man can deduce is not feasible, was used more often than not to assure confessions. The King was a powerful man, but continued on his peaked interest, not stopping the arrests, torture and execution of the people who had been accused. His obsession with what had only been an interest, led to the death of many Scottish people, until at some point he began to doubt the power of witches. He gained no political influence from these things and even at one pint had to deal with a relative of his being accused of witchcraft. His ignorance of worldly matters, such as weather and people mental inability to withstand torture made him more vicious a ‘killer’ than most, with a trail of blood inevitably leading onward.

My argument is yes, it was a bunch of kids who let things get out of control and adults quickly learned it was a way to rid the community of people they didn’t want. I say this based on the entire chapter in the Witch Hunts book about it. It discusses many points that make me believe it was out of control. The reasons I think this are based on the original reasons that people started calling people witches. I believe it was out of control based on the ridiculous stories people told. As well the chapter discusses how some of the accused were not looked highly upon ion the community. I think that the people who confessed to lying really sealed it for me. In the beginning some children were becoming ill in the Goodwin household. To explain the sickness family members said that it was the housekeepers doing, Ann Glover. I believe she was accused based on her being an Irish Catholic and not a Puritan. When the housekeeper dies the children still stayed sick. This shows that this “witch” wasn’t what was affecting them. Other children, Betty and Abigail, also became sick and would say it was witches afflicting them. They would say that these women and men were pinching them and pricking them but they weren’t being touched, and these accused weren’t near them while it was happening. The stories that started were crazy. Some said they saw Ann Glover come down their chimney. Another crazy thing was the witch cake that was made. I think this was a clear example of out of control. Tituba gave a crazy account of how she was afflicted by Satan. Tituba also said Sarah O has a crazy looking creature that she saw. Ann Putnam said a man came to her in her bedroom and asked her to write a Devil book. The same girl claimed to see and speak to dead people. Men accused women of sexually tormenting them in their dreams. One woman claimed George Burroughs flew her to a mountain and asked her to sign over her soul to him. Examples of people being accused due to being disliked are Ann Gloves, as stated above. Tituba was a slave and black, Sarah Good was a homeless beggar, Sarah Osborne was known to be disliked. A Salem minister who was unpopular was accused, George Burroughs. His jury was mostly made up of people who hated him. Later in years after the trials faded away the accusers asked for forgiveness. Some accusers went to people and said they were in fact the ones who were afflicted by Satan as they wrongly accused people. These are the reasons I think that this was something that greatly spiraled out of control! I think that it started with some unexplained illness and went onto some teens who wanted to play games. Later other town’s people could see how easily the jury and judges could be persuaded and used this to their advantage. They would accuse people who they disliked to get them out of the community.

Were the Salem witch trials a sham?

The argument I chose to write about in the Witch Hunts was VII: The Hammer of Witches. Reading through this whole argument of 33 pages, I was really surprised on how people were treated back then, and it was kind of sickening to read what the consequences were. I didn’t really realize that Witchcraft was a real thing that people did, and actually took on some serious tasks and missions along the way. My question throughout this whole argument was what made Heinrich Kramer the way he was and why was he so cruel to JUST women? Heinrich Kramer was a very cruel man his whole entire life of witch hunting, and never was nice to any woman. Kramer was an overriding priest who was chosen to be Inquisitor for German speaking provinces north of the Alps (Wood, pg. 49). He was the Inquisitor for Germen lands for awhile with only small achievement, but by the 1480s, Kramer dedicated himself to witch hunting full time. Kramer finally found something that he desired to do which was to try witches, but rumors went around that Kramer was a pervert, and also hated women. Kramer met with the Pope in 1484 for him to listen to his pleadings about Satan and how he brings down the Pope’s power, so the Pope gave Kramer a Papal Bull (Wood, pg. 55). This Bull gave the authority for Kramer to perform witch hunts throughout Germany, which also banned other authorities so they wouldn’t be able to interfere. Kramer took this degree everywhere he went in the cities and towns of Germany, and made new enemies every day. Rumors kept spreading throughout about Kramer undressing women in prisons and calling them filthy names. The filthy Inquisitor always went too far in court saying, “These adulterous drabs and whores drain the very being from the men they glamour, fornicating naked at night in the forest, wallowing in venereal pleasure! (Wood, pg. 61)” These atrocious words that came out of Kramer’s mouth got the charges dropped on the women, Kramer got sent away, and words traveled fast about Kramer’s behavior in the court room. Kramer always had enemies wherever he went, and his aggressive plans led him to condemn in 1490. He always had something against witchcraft and witches, which answers my two questions. Kramer died in 1505 with no one really caring or missing him because of all the horrible things he did to people, especially women accused of witchcraft.

To answer the question of why the medieval “witch hunts” were so prevalent during a dark and dangerous era for several centuries one must take into account the social phenomenon of misogynist idealism, scapegoating, religious extremism, and political upheaval during the medieval times. These social factors fostered the fearful and violent environment that caused the terrible deaths of thousands of supposed “witches.” Rocky Wood in Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times manages to creatively weave a historical narrative into a graphic novel format to engage his audience. In Witch Hunts, Wood analyzes the origins, motivations, and superstitions associated with the global witch and witchcraft phobia during medieval times. The author begins by informing the reader that the Christian Church originally did not encourage the belief in witchcraft so as to discredit pagan beliefs. However, the drastic evolution that the Church went through that reversed this position is one that has to do with more than just the internal ideological conflicts of a religious entity. First, the rise in religious dissent caused the Church to murder thousands of “heretics” for their rebellious ideas. The Black Death that swept Europe and killed so many also inspired a panic among people who had no way of explaining the massive death tolls due to the lack of scientific research. Witchcraft, among other sources, was blamed and the supposed witches condemned. As Wood puts it, “the black death swept Europe. Scapegoats were found-Jews, Muslims, heretics and witches hunted down and dealt severe blows” (p.9). By persecuting these witches, it was the public’s way of combatting the ruthless, terrifying unknown of death by disease and the unexplained. Persecution provided a false sense of security and control. However, the author makes clear that the innocent victims accused of witchcraft were victim of a far darker reason. As I said, witches were one of several scapegoats for European and American social problems. The unbalanced amount of women murdered in contrast to men is reflective of the misogynist ideas that pervaded the era. Women were automatically considered to be to some degree, essentially evil or unclean.” The witch hunts helped sponsor a return to severe Christianity for many because association with Christianity often protected one for suspicion of dissent or witchcraft. The Church and state became more severe, even aggressive with their punishments. To be accused of heresy meant certain death even if some were innocent. In fact, many deaths were a result of the state or Church wanting to eliminate somebody for unrelated purposes such as money. For example, Wood describes the sentencing to death and accusations of sorcery of the Knights Templar by King Philip IV of France as being motivated by the “huge debt” owed to them (p. 7). The social norms of religious activism, misogynism, and fear of the unexplained pervaded the centuries of witch hunts. More than a superstitious fear, the witch hunts were a way for the ruling parties to control society by fear and violence and thus suppress disagreeing ideas that could threaten the authority of the Church or rulers of the state.

There are people whose livelihoods revolve around motivating others; parents, teachers, motivational speakers, and politicians. It is when the motivation becomes self-serving that the effectiveness is altered, to the advantage of the motivator. This word motivation came to mind after reading, Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times. I began to wonder what the reasons for these heinous actions throughout history could have been. It couldn’t be simply fear. So, what were some of the other motivating factors behind the witch-hunts through the course of history? Through the use of our textbook, Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times I plan to gain a better sense of this quandary and answer it here. The power of Christianity, the church, and the fear thus instilled in the general populous throughout history was clearly a driving force for the persecution of witches. With the threat to Catholicism and the implementation of inquisitions the fear was allowed to spread regarding the power of witches and witchcraft. “In 1320, Pope John XXII added witchcraft to the growing list of heresies and the first formal trial for Witchcraft quickly followed” (Wood, pg 6). At this point the charge of witchcraft became a sort of umbrella for all other “sins” as well. Witches began to hold the blame for other natural phenomenon and plagues. Agricultural blights, still births, and even the Black Plague, were pinned on suspected witches. The unfortunate, unsavory, and individuals in the way of those in power were often accused and executed. This was a well contrived plan on the part of those in power and provided them both with a purpose for their decisions and actions. The rulers were able to dispose of those in the way of their growing claims to land and wealth in conjunction with the unsavory individuals in their communities; the church was able to keep the fear alive. Through public burnings and hangings, the church sent the continued message that Christianity was the only way and all should fear the consequences of straying. Truly a mutually beneficial relationship for everyone involved and in power. “On Friday, October 13, 1307, King Philip IV of France ordered the arrest of all Knights Templar, the richest organization in Europe. While his motivation was the huge debt he owed this militaristic Order, he and his minions laid charges of idolatry, heresy and sorcery” (Wood, pg 5). Aha! There were other motivating factors indeed. It is no mystery that, when given power, people often become corrupt. It is therefore not a large stretch of the imagination to think that certain individuals used their power to gain monetary advancements at the cost of those in their way. Cry Witchcraft, a perfect plan. With the inquisition in their pockets, those in power had carte blanche as to who they condemned to witchcraft. “And so, for greed and hate, the great tide of death began on the continent of Europe. The contagion began with avaricious men of power and fearful peasants, but shortly spread to a new and even more awful breed- the Witch Hunter” (Wood, pg 16). Greed and power are blinding forces and the fact that they were present during this mark on history is no different. Masked by religious importance and fueled by fear but ultimately driven by gluttonous power hungry leaders. Motivating factors indeed. The term “witch hunt” is a popularly used phrase that describes one who strives to achieve the goal of unearthing opposing views and beliefs of another. Though today the term is no longer associated to witch craft, the origin of the expression evolved when the hunt of witches existed. Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times, accounts for the development of witchcrafts and subsequent witch hunts among different societies throughout the world. This book is a powerful piece of literature combining the graphic novel with somber non-fiction. The literary style exhibited throughout this book does not make light of a truly tragic and solemn time in history, rather it eases the subject matter of an otherwise depressing read. Witch Hunts:

Motivation can be a wonderfully powerful thing.

A Graphic History of the Burning Times sheds light on an era marked by depression and transformation illustrating the term witch was merely used as a scapegoat for societal issues.
Rocky Wood chronicles the early developments of witch hunts from medieval Europe. Though many people believe witchcraft has always been associated with the church, Wood uncovers the notion that witchcraft has always been in scripture is a falsity. “Though the Old Testament is drastic in its condemnation of witchcraft, calling for death by stoning, the early Church said witches were not real - they did not exist” (Woods et al. p.4). The attitudes of the church swiftly changed during medieval Europe when the Catholic Church faced threats of opposing views. “The Church, and the secular powers it supported, ruthlessly suppressed dissent through a series of Inquisitions” (Wood et al. p.5). This change in attitude prompted accusations and Inquisitions throughout Europe and other regions of the world for centuries to come. Through his text, Wood depicts moments in history when witchcraft prevailed. Wood reveals witchcraft often originated through the pursuit of the wealth and power. Readers are introduced to two of the more prominent witch hunters of medieval Europe, Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger. Although both men had differing values, together they collaborated in the fight against Satan. In response to Kramer and Sprenger’s efforts, Pope Innocent VIII gave direct authority to the men “to conduct witch hunts throughout Germany- and banned local authorities on pain of excommunication from interfering” (Wood et al., p.55). This was the beginning of the rise of witch hunters. The Age of the Enlightenment brought forth an era in which philosophers questioned the role of religion and witchcraft within society. Many philosophers recognized witchcraft was a farce. Accusations of witchcraft arose from fear, intolerance, and ignorance. During the early seventeenth century, “the church returned to the position it had held before- that witches did not exist” (Wood, et al., p. 162). Upon the ruling of the church, societies throughout the world began a gradual shift away from accusations of witchcraft. The terror and fear sparked by witch hunts would soon come to an end as science and reasoning prevailed. Wood illustrates the extent intolerance and fear had during the witch hunts during the last caption of his book, “Let us not forget those tens of thousands of innocents who were murdered under the banners of religion or government, victims of fear, greed or political machinations” (Wood et al., p.183). Rocky Wood’s Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times, provides readers with a unique overview of the history of witch hunts. Wood’s graphic novel style lightens the mood and tone of an otherwise disheartening subject. Through the chronology of witch hunts, Wood illustrates the devastation, ignorance, bigotry, and persecution witnessed throughout the world. Through the skillful use of graphics and content, Wood demonstrates the message to be mindful of persecution against marginalized groups and to remember the tens of thousands of innocents lives lost due to pure ignorance.

When the Church becomes more powerful than the congregation it leads and looks for scapegoats to explain the ills that effect men or when that which could not be had through proper means could be taken legally or by barter with the Church, what do you end up with? Witch hunts and persecutions in the name and glory of the word and power of God and his law. Aquitaine in 1351 may perhaps be the beginning of the witch persecutions (Witch Hunts, p. 10). Two women were accused of witchcraft as they had survived the black death while others did not. Clearly the guilty must be investigated and punished for being in league with the dark one. An admission of guilt after torture was surely evidence of this and so the penalty of death was imposed. Lands and possession forfeited for these crimes were split by the church and the local Duke. Profit and power gained at the expense of others. The stream of persecution had begun and its torrents would run for many years to come. In 1376 the Directorium Inquisitorum (Witch Hunts, p. 18) and the efforts of Eymerich to describe the forms of heresy which made up witchcraft as well as the characteristics of witchcraft would set forth an increase in the torrents of witch hunts. Sion in 1428 saw the execution of a number of witches and of course the enrichment of the local nobility (Witch Hunts, p. 30). In 1430 Saint Joan of Arc, the savior of France, was charged and punished for the heresy of witchcraft and put to death (Witch Hunts, p. 36 - 40). 1459 in southern France many “witches” were put to death (Witch Hunts, p. 43) only stopping when the Duke of Burgundy intervened due to the possibility of decreasing wealth and once again profiting from the accusations. Heinrich Kramer set out to prevent “witchcraft” in the early 1480’s (Witch Hunts, p. 49) with his writing of the Malleus Maleficarum. He would chase heretical witches until his death in 1505 (Witch Hunts, p. 79). Thousands would be persecuted and executed under his inquisitions. Only when the pain to the church outweighed the profit was he stopped and rebuked, and even that could not stop a zealot from persecuting the weak for his advancement in power, position and profit. The Protestant reformation would bring no relief. Persecutions and trials continued through the Salem witch trials of the late 1600’s and where only stopped when persons of the higher establishment were executed as heretical witches. Personal gain and vengeance had reached an all time malignancy and was finally put to a stop only when persons of means became effected and business and society were affected. Stopping the prosecutions and staying penalties would give power and influence to all who finally spoke up to stop the atrocities. But was it Christian goodness or the after effects of power and position that mostly affected the decisions of these men. Persecutions using the word of God that continue to this day in parts of the world, such as Saudi Arabia which still punishes “witchcraft” with the ultimate penalty of death (Witch Hunts, p. 182). As long as there is profit to be made, power to be gained or scores to be settled witch hunts will always continue to pervert the torrents of the current of Christianity in the name and glory of the word and power of God and his law.


Winner of the 2012 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel
Written by Rocky WOOD and Lisa MORTON Illustrated by Greg CHAPMAN Published by McFarland & Company On sale in paperback from: AMAZON and all other good booksellers