QUEBEC-RESEARCH-L ArchivesArchiver > QUEBEC-RESEARCH > 2005-04 > 1114303227
Subject: Witch Hunts
Date: Sat, 23 Apr 2005 20:40:27 EDT
People condemned during the Witch Hunts were burned at the stake.
FACT: While indeed governments did burn many witches at the stake, most were
executed by other means.
COMMENTARY: The favorite neo-pagan term for the period of the Witch Hunts is
"the Burning Times." The most common form of execution, though, was hanging.
Admittedly, burning was important in many of these cases also, since to
further protect against any malevolence from the dead witch, authorities often
burned the remains afterward. Other popular forms of execution for witches
included beheading, drowning, and breaking on the wheel. Witches were rarely
buried alive, boiled alive, impaled, sawed in two, flayed, drawn and quartered,
or disemboweled, as other contemporary criminals were. Other punishments
inflicted on convicted witches included mutilating (cutting off of a hand or ear
for example), branding, whipping, dunking, locking in the the stocks,
jailing, fining, banishing, or selling into slavery.
A notoriously common myth is that the alleged witches at Salem in colonial
Massachusetts were burned. All of the convicted during the Salem Witch Hunt in
1692 died by hanging. Others died by natural causes before conviction or
execution, and Giles Corey was pressed to death. In fact, no witches were
executed by burning in the English colonies of North America. English law did not