The witchcraze of the seventeenth century gave way to much political unrest and an incredible redistribution of property. The witchcraze was created and fostered by the political leaders and the church leaders of the day all in the pursuit of property and position. The witchcraze continued full steam ahead until laws were passed that put a limit on the personal gains allowable from a single incident. There were a select group of people that got rich from the misfortune of others.
It was an uncontained, uncontrolled, and unchallenged exhibition of olitical power that was used to dominate the poor and allow for a designed redistribution of land (some accusations were made simply because their was or had been a disagreement over borders, inheritance, or because of past family to family conflicts). This period of history allowed a few selected rich merchants to get richer and the poor to live their entire lives in fear. … Meanwhile notaries, copyists, and innkeepers grew rich….
This period allowed for the design of an organized inquisition, organized system of torture, and a traveling system of judges that always passed the same udgment: guilty let them burn. The promise of property and position led to the false accusations of many people who through torture signed away their souls and who not only admitted, but believed (because through the torture they were threatened with being excommunicated and as a result of not having the promise of salvation in the afterlife) that the accusations were true.
This is obvious through the reading of some of the church documents of the trials where the accused individuals actually thanked the inquisitors for trying to save them and their souls. They were willing to admit anything for the promise of salvation. Religion played a very large role in the lives of all people during this time (regardless of denomination: nobody was safe from the accusation of witchcraft).
This period, taken from a feminist view, was a major building block in the foundation of the modern womens movement. During this time women were beginning to demand more, they were becoming more learned, and they were on the verge of a new era. Once you expand the mind it can never be retracted. These modern beliefs were shaking the foundations of acceptable thought and he old fashioned ideas and ideals didnt know how to support this modern movement.
Tradition didnt know how to cope with these modern women (and I speak of women because 80-90% of people accused during the witchcraze were women) and it seemed logical to the social higher ups to rid themselves of the problem while it was small and before it could become and intellectual epidemic. These women set the stage for the drive for gender equality long before that taboo thought was allowed to permeate their reality. These women were martyrs, and it does my mind well to know that they did not die in vain.