You know what’s disturbing about the Salem Witch Trials? Quite a lot! The Salem Witch Trials started in the spring of 1692 in Salem, Massachusetts. After two girls accused women of being witches, fear, paranoia, and hysteria snowballed into a societal nightmare. Many were brought before judges and sentenced to death with little to no evidence against them except for the baseless testimony of others. Needless to say, things got out of hand, destroying lives, breaking apart families, and thrusting their little village in disarray. From what caused the Salem Witch Trials to how they ended, here are 25 Disturbing Facts About The Salem Witch Trials.
Under English Law, the trials at Salem didn’t work the way we think of trials today with lawyers and strict rules about evidence. Often, these trials would be heavily weighed against the accused, and as such, many saw the writing on the wall and confessed. Surprisingly, those who confessed to witchcraft weren’t executed, but the others who refused were.
Right before the witch trials took place, a smallpox outbreak spread through the town of Salem. This only added to the brewing hysteria. Eventually, Reverend Cotton Mather accused Martha Carrier of starting it through witchcraft, calling her a “rampant hag” and “Queen of Hell,” though historical documents show she was merely independent-minded and unsubmissive.
Abigail Williams and Betty Parris
The brutal trials all started because of these two girls. The historical record states they began having terrible fits and would claim to see invisible spirits. When she was examined by the doctor, and he claimed she was bewitched, the trials began and little Williams started accusing many people, including Tituba, Sarah Good, and Sarah Osbourne.
During the trials, many tests were created to determine if someone was a witch or not. In this case, an accused person would have their finger tied to their opposite toe and lowered into a body of water. If they floated, they were a witch but if they sank, then they weren’t. The danger, of course, was drowning if they left the suspect in the water for too long.
Another test involved creating a basic cake out of rye flour and the cursed person’s urine. They’d feed the cake to a dog and if the dog showed the same symptoms, then witchcraft was proven. At that point, the dog would reveal the witch. Why a dog? Apparently, they believed dogs had a close association with the devil.