The Witch-Hunts of the 16th Century in Pre-Modern Europe

1570 words 7 pages
The Witch-Hunts of the 16th century in pre-modern Europe, was a very gruesome time in human history. Countless people were executed as they were accused of being “witches”, primarily women. Through the decades, countless historians have been puzzled trying to find an explanation and answer the following question, were the Witch-Hunts in pre-modern Europe Misogynistic? Anne Llewellyn Barstow suggests in her paper “On Studying Witchcraft as Women’s History”, that during this time women were indeed accused and executed based off misogynistic views. She points out how women were singled out and targeted by a male dominant population based on their vulnerability and status. On the other hand historian Robin Briggs argues in his report, “Women …show more content…

All of these first hand data demonstrates that it was not a matter of gender but more about status and economical power. The poorer you are the more likely the possibility that you shall be accused.

On the other hand Barstow is convinced that the witch hunts were more of a woman hunt! Barstow explains that women with “power” have been around way before the witch hunts, but instead of being hated and hunted they were respected. These women where known as healers and counselors, not as demonic witches. Barstow, notes that before the “witch trials” women have always been kept out of the court rooms because they weren’t even recognized as a group. A startling 80 to 85 percent of the individuals that were executed were women. Barstow acknowledges that yes, some men were accused but she explains that those men that were pointed out had either committed other crimes or had close relationships with women suspected to be witches. Either way it was clear that these women were the escape goats of society. The moment that men felt threatened by a woman or felt that a woman was going to break the general submissive role, they condemned her to death. These women were dehumanized and no longer seen as people, they were seen as demons. Barstow’s explains how it was believed that these “witches” communicated