Between 1692 and 1693, allegations of witchcraft were made around the town of Salem in Massachusetts, resulting in the arrests of about 150 individuals. These charges were taken seriously, and the occurring trials led to the executions of 19 individuals.
But how were these “witches” performed? Were any burned alive at the stake, a typical penalty for founded guilty witches in Europe? After all, at the time Salem belonged to the Province of Massachusetts Bay, an English nest.
The response is no; witches in England’s American nests were eliminated another method.
“At Salem no one was burned. Instead, they hanged them,” stated Elizabeth Reis, a teacher at Macaulay Honors College at the City University of New York and author of the book “Damned Women: Sinners and Witches in Puritan New England” (Cornell University Press, 1999).
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England and its American nests were an abnormality throughout that duration, at least when it pertained to burning those implicated of witchcraft. “Burning at the stake was not used as a method of execution for convicted witches in Salem or anywhere in the American colonies or England,” stated Emerson Baker, a history teacher at Salem State University who composed the book “A Storm of Witchcraft: The Salem Trials and the American Experience” (Oxford University Press, 2014).
“In England and her colonies, witchcraft was tried in criminal courts, like any other capital crime. And the punishment for capital crimes was death by hanging,” Baker informed Live Science in an e-mail. “Meanwhile, on the European continent, witch cases tended to be tried by ecclesiastical courts [a court run by the church]. When people were accused of witchcraft before an ecclesiastical court, it was treated as heresy. The punishment for someone convicted of heresy was burning at the stake,” Baker stated.
The ecclesiastical courts in continental Europe saw burning at the stake as a method to cleanse the soul. “Burning was supposedly a way to purify the convict, and also as a threat to uncover conspiracies,” stated Peter Hoffer, a prominent research study teacher of history at the University of Georgia and author of the book “The Salem Witchcraft Trials: A Legal History” (University Press of Kansas, 1997). Church authorities in Europe often feared that individuals would make conspiracies with the devil versus them.
Burial and memorial
Recent historic research study has actually determined a website now called “Proctor’s Ledge” as being the location where the founded guilty were hanged at Salem. In 2017, Salem put up a memorial for individuals who were performed at the website.
The bodies of those hanged were disposed in an area near Proctor’s Ledge. “An eye witness account says the bodies were dumped into shallow rocky crevices in the ledge under the shallow soil. There are references to several bodies being removed at night by family members and buried at their homes,” stated Benjamin Ray, a teacher emeritus of spiritual research studies at the University of Virginia who composed the book “Satan and Salem: The Witch-Hunt Crisis of 1692” (University of Virginia Press, 2015).
Ray kept in mind that efforts have actually been made to discover the bodies of those hanged, however up until now they have actually been not successful. “Ground penetrating radar indicates there are only these crevices, little space for bodies, and none have been discovered,” Ray informed Live Science in an e-mail.
Originally released on Live Science.