The witch mania decribed in Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles Mackay asserts that this was a time when ill fortune was likely to be attributed to supernatural causes. Mackay notes that many of these cases were initiated as a way of settling scores among neighbors or associates, and that “extremely low” standards of evidence were applied to most of these trials.” This mass-superstition proved to be extremely dangerous with thousands of innocent people dying as a result of the cases, this seems crazy but many lessons can apply to today.
Essential Discussion: “An epidemic terror seized upon the nations; no man thought himself secure, either in his person or possessions, from the machinations of the devil and his agents.” Many of the trials had shallow standards of evidence and often came about as a way to settle old scores between neighbors or acquaintances.
“A pandemonium of the socking gratify of the Compound carry on, "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live," no doubt led many conscientious men astray, whose superstition, warm enough before wanted but a little corroboration to blaze out with desolating fury.” In all ages of the world, men have tried to hold converse with superior beings.
In England, a so-called "Witch-discoverer general" called Matthew Hopkins went around East Anglia, showing up wherever there was an allegation of someone being a witch. The test? Throw them in the water. for example, tying the accused’s hands and feet together and placing them in the stream. ... if they floated, they were deemed to be a witch and burnt at the stake, if they drowned, well.... Hopkins got additional cash for finding witches
“The popular notion of the devil was that he was a large, ill-formed, hairy sprite, with horns, a long tail, cloven feet, and dragon's wings.” “The Witch rejoiced in playing off all manner of fantastic tricks upon poor humanity.” “While the superstitious dreams of previous circumstances are viewed as minor theoretical madness’s, we might be for a minute diverted with the wild incongruities of the patients.”
We all like to blame someone else when something goes wrong. It’s terrifying to know that bad things happen to people who don’t deserve it. It’s even more appalling to know that we tend to look for someone to blame who is totally innocent, but it still happens. In one stage of the story, the author suggested that “Demons preferring the night between Friday and Saturday and they could take different shapes in different countries they wanted.” In the book, it appears that “there held a meeting named Sabbath between the demons and the witches.”
In an interesting twist to our witch-finder story, “the imposter Matthew Hopkins met an untimely death due to his own notoriety, using his own witch-finding method.” Execution of Joan of Arc was also lying in the story. “It was also said that, when one of the knights died, his body was burnt to a powder, and then mixed with wine and drunk by every member of the order.” “Towards the close of the fourteenth and beginning of the fifteenth century, many witches were burned in different parts of Europe.” “A case of witchcraft occurred in 1598 at a village. The story was about A gentleman and his friends about hunting.”
“Such was the dreadful state of Italy, Germany, and France, during the sixteenth century, which was far from being the worst crisis of the popular madness with regard to witchcraft.” “The statute of 1541 was the first that specified the particular crime of witchcraft.” “The case of the Witches of Warbois merits to be detailed at length for singular absurdity could condemn people’s fellow-creatures to the scaffold.” Torture was still applied to whom were one Cunningham, namely Dr. Fian. “She was put to the torture among the rest.”
From the analysis of the book, it is shown that “Those who still clung to the ancient faith of Rome were the severest Sufferers. As it was thought, partner after the disclosures of the fierce enmity terminal by the devil Towards a Protestant King and his Protestant wife, That All the Catholics were leagued with the powers of Evil to work on the realm of Scotland. The case last cited was one of an extraordinary character. When they wanted to destroy the crops of an enemy, they yoked toads to his plow, and on the following night Satan himself plowed the land with his team and blasted it for the season. Isabel said that one occasion when she was in this disguise, she was sore pressed by a pack of hounds, and had a very narrow escape with her life.”
“It was the object of the witch-pricker to discover this spot, and the unhappy Wight who did not bleed when pricked upon it was doomed to death. He says, in the book already quoted that the people who have been in general of this crime were poor ignorant men and women, who did not understand the nature of the change and who mistook their own superstitious fears for witchcraft.” “Everyone has heard of the "Lancashire witches," a phrase now used to compliment the ladies of that county for their bewitching beauty.” Margaret Arnold, Amy Duny, Rose Cullender, Sir Thomas Brown, and so many people were involved in this witch mania craft.
Conclusion: When a person is accused and identified on social media, there is often no fair trial, no hearing of both sides of the story and no critical analysis. When sharing information online, we need to be careful, especially if that info condemns or vilifies another individual. “Nobody wants to be the target of a witch hunt, but we should also not want to participate in one.” “What’s sure is that either way, with no other evidence, Hopkins met his demise at the hands of the angry mob.”
More on the book here