What kind of people were accused of witchcraft?


Quick Answer

The University of Wisconsin-Madison explains that the kind of people accused of witchcraft were mostly irreligious, antisocial, aggressive and foul-mouthed people. Around 75 percent of those accused of witchcraft were women. Most of them were older than 50 and belonged to the poorer classes.

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Full Answer

Women were generally considered weaker than men and more vulnerable to the devil’s influence, the University of Wisconsin-Madison details. Moreover, they worked in occupations that were prone to charges of spells and poisons, such as cookery, midwifery and healing. Cursing was a habit closely associated with witchcraft, and women were often likely to speak curses whereas men often lashed out with their fists. Additionally, witchcraft accusations were common in rural places. There were few witchcraft trials in highly urbanized regions, such as the Northern Netherlands and the Italian city states. Between the 15th and 18th centuries, approximately 100,000 people had been tried for witchcraft, and roughly 60,000 were executed.

According to Pennsylvania State University, the stereotypical witch was a female, particularly an old and ugly woman. Research shows that many were also widows and had disagreeable or self-assertive personalities. Trial transcripts reveal that witches were blamed for physical illnesses of children, animal diseases and even for lack of prosperity.

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