The Salem Witch Trials

1.       When did the hysteria take place? 1692

2.       Where did it happen? New Hampshire

3.       Where else had witches been hunted in the world? Across Europe

4.       How many people were killed in these witch hunts? 40-50,000

5.       What does the Bible say about witchcraft? “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.”

6.       Which book was used as the authority for witch hunts? Malleus Maleficarum (“Hammer of the Witches”)

7.       What did the Puritans want to do in America? Establish a model society based on the principles of the Bible.

8.       How big was the village of Salem? Very small.

9.       Explain the idea of “the elect”. Predestination meant that certain people were chosen by God, before they were born, as those who would ascend to heaven.

10.   How were Puritan women expected to behave? To be docile, submissive and silent.

11.   Why were women considered so likely to become witches? Because they weren’t allowed to take part in the Christian ministry. They were also considered to be “lustful”.

12.   What other reasons might there be for conflict between neighbours in the community? Bitterness over land disputes, gossip, personal vendettas.

13.   What did Tituba, the slave, do to draw attention on herself? Practised voodoo.

14.   Why were the girls of Salem attracted to her? Because she would address their romantic aspirations and dreams.

15.   Why else would she be targeted for blame? She was a slave and had nobody to defend her.

16.   What is “spectral evidence”? Acceptance that the spirit of a person was committing crimes. The spectre is only visible to the person making the accusation.

17.   Why did Tituba confess to practising witchcraft? In order to escape a death sentence.

18.   How many people vouched for Rebecca Nurse’s innocence? 39

19.   How did the girls behave when the accused were giving evidence? They would imitate their movements and gestures, to suggest some sort of demonic control over them.

20.   How did Burroughs refute the accusation of witchcraft? He recited the Lord’s Prayer without error.

21.   What happened in 1697? The accused witches had the accusation retracted.

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