Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The World of Witch Believers

The diary of English Puritan Nehemiah Wallington is now online, allowing us to peruse, among other things, his musings about the horrible witch trials of the 1640s:
Now to speake a few words more of one great mercy of God, in that he hath brought to light many witches. . . .
Like certain contemporaries of ours, the English "Witch Finder" Matthew Hopkins said he did not torture the accused witches; they were simply kept in solitary confinement, stripped, deprived of sleep, made to stand in fixed positions for hours, and questioned repeatedly until they confessed. Click on the image above to behold the truths extracted by these methods.

Wallington, like most who saw the trials, watched the women come before the court and "voluntarily and without any compulsion freely declare" their crimes. He believed this was truly voluntary, as did many other witnesses. He had not seen the awful machinations of the court and did not know that the women had been told they would never escape from their questioners until they confessed to all the charges against them.

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