What caused the salem witch trials

Daniel Andrews Other victims include two dogs who were shot or killed after being suspected of witchcraft. The fact is, no accused witches were burned at the stake in Salem, Massachusetts. Salem was ruled by English law at the time, which only allowed death by burning to be used against men who committed high treason and only after they had been hanged, quartered and drawn. Crafts, circa As for why these victims were targeted in the first place, historians have noted that many of the accused were wealthy and held different religious beliefs than their accusers.

What caused the salem witch trials

The exact cause of the Salem Witch Trials has long remained a mystery. Like many historical events, figuring out what happened is one thing but trying to figure out why it happened is much harder. Most historians agree though that there were probably many causes behind the Salem Witch Trials, according to Emerson W.

Baker in his book A Storm of Witchcraft: Although colonists had been accused of witchcraft before in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, it had never escalated to the level that Salem did, with hundreds of people locked up in jail and dozens executed.

Why did Salem get so bad? What we do know is that witches and the Devil were a very real concern to the Salem Villagers, as they were to many colonists.

What Caused the Salem Witch Trials? - History of Massachusetts Blog

Once the idea took hold in the colony, things seemed to quickly got out of hand. The following is a list of these theories and possible causes of the Salem Witch Trials: Conversion disorder is a mental condition in which the sufferer experiences neurological symptoms which may occur due to a psychological conflict.

Conversion disorder is also collectively known as mass hysteria. Robert Bartholomew states, in an article on Boston. Baker also suggests conversion disorder as a possibility in his book A Story of Witchcraft: Inin an article in the scientific journal Science, Linda R.

Ergot is a fungus Claviceps purpurea that infects rye and other cereal grains and contains a byproduct known as ergotamine, which is related to LSD.

Ergot tends to grow in warm, damp weather and those conditions were present in the growing season. Not everyone agrees with this theory though. Many experts question the very existence of Artic hysteria, which results in such behavior as people stripping off their clothes and running naked across the wild tundra.

The accounts mention no such streaking in Salem, and while the supposed symptoms of witchcraft began in January, more people showed symptoms in the spring and summer…Encephalitis, the result of an infection transmitted by mosquito bite, does not really seem plausible, given that the first symptoms of bewitchment appeared during winter.

None of these suggested diseases fit because a close reading of the testimony suggests that the symptoms were intermittent. The afflicted had stretches when they acted perfectly normal, intersperse with acute fits.

What caused the salem witch trials

Historical records indicate that witch hunts occur more frequently during cold periods. Baker also discusses this theory in his book A Storm of Witchcraft: Strikingly cold winters and dry summers were common in these decades.

The result was not just personal discomfort but increasing crop failures. Starting in the s, many towns that had once produced an agricultural surplus no longer did so. Mixed farming began to give way to pastures and orchards. Once Massachusetts had exported foodstuffs; by the s it was an importer of corn, wheat, and other cereal crops.

Several scholars have noted the high correlation between eras of extreme weather in the Little Ice Age and outbreaks of witchcraft in Europe; Salem continues this pattern. Salem was very divided due to disagreements between the villagers about local politics, religion and economics.

One of the many issues that divided the villagers was who should be the Salem Village minister.

Ergot Poisoning:

Salem Village had gone through three ministers in sixteen years, due to disputes over who was deemed qualified enough to have the position, and at the time of the trials they were arguing about the current minister Samuel Parris.

Rivalries between different families in Salem had also begun to sprout up in the town as did land disputes and other disagreements which was all coupled with the fact that many colonists were also uneasy because the Massachusetts Bay Colony had its charter revoked and then replaced in with a new charter that gave the crown much more control over the colony.

In their book Salem Possessed, Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum attribute the witch trials to this political, economic, and religious discord in Salem Village: They also point out that Rebecca Nurse was accused shortly after her husband, Francis, became a member of a village committee that took office in October of that was vehemently against Salem Village minister Samuel Parris, whom the Putnams were supporters of.

Charles Upham suggested this as a major cause and Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum have provided a brilliant analysis of the Salem community to support that argument.

History of the Salem Witch Trials – History of Massachusetts Blog

Indian warfare and the uncertainties related to the arrival of a new charter and new Governor in the two years before the witchhunt also added to the level of social stress. But other towns in frontier Massachusetts that experienced the same socio-economic-political difficulties did not spark a similar witchscare.

Several communities suffering from less stress did suffer from contact with Salem as the witchscare virus spread. This contagion too was a unique aspect of the episode. Baker suggests though that fraud may have been a bigger problem in the witch trials than we realize: Not surprisingly, there is no agreement on the answer.

Most historians acknowledge that some fakery took place at Salem.Causes for the Outbreak of Witchcraft Hysteria in Salem. 1. Strong belief that Satan is acting in the world"The invisible world": disease, natural catastophes, and bad fortune attributed to work of the devil.

Salem witch trials, (June –May ), in American history, a series of investigations and persecutions that caused 19 convicted “witches” to be hanged and many other suspects to be imprisoned in Salem Village in the Massachusetts Bay Colony (now Danvers, Massachusetts).

Salem witch trials, (June –May ), in American history, a series of investigations and persecutions that caused 19 convicted “witches” to be hanged and many other suspects to be imprisoned in Salem Village in the Massachusetts Bay Colony (now Danvers, Massachusetts).

Oct 17,  · cut together from the History Chanel documentary Witch Hunt. I'm using this as an initiation for my eight grade class but it has some big vocabulary which would need to be explained to most students.

The Salem witch trials were a series of hearings and prosecutions of people accused of witchcraft in colonial Massachusetts between February and May More than people were accused, nineteen of whom were found guilty and executed by hanging (fourteen women and five men).

The following is a list of these theories and possible causes of the Salem Witch Trials: Conversion Disorder: Conversion disorder is a mental condition in which the sufferer experiences neurological symptoms which may occur due to a psychological conflict.

Causes of the Salem Witchcraft Trials