These are merely questions that I have posed to myself. They are personal opinion, and thoughts, and should be taken as such. They are not meant to be a criticism of anyone's belief system, only to be personal musings.
I ran across a site on the web which, under the heading of "Burning Times" states:
And to back up that statement, they quote:
Can we be serious here a moment? Yes, there were witchcraft trials, and yes there were people (not just women) accused and executed for witchcraft, but 9 million? I don't think so. Historical documents(1) place the figure in the area of 50-100 thousand over a 500 year period ~ from the 14th to the 18th century ~ the vast majority were tried from 1550 to 1650.
The Inquisitional Courts were established by Pope Gregory IX in 1227 and in 1258, Pope Alexander IV instructed the Inquisition to confine their investigations to cases of heresy. They were not to investigate charges of divination or sorcery unless heresy was also involved.
After the 13th Century the Inquisition spread northward to Germany and Scandinavia. In northern Europe the Inquisition was considerably more benign: in the Scandinavian countries it had hardly any impact.The Inquisition was never instituted in England
The Spanish Inquisition, as a religious court,
was operated by Church authorities; however, if a person
was found to be heretical, they were turned over to the secular authorities
to be punished. Torture was often used to gain repentance.
Punishments ranged from public shame to burning at the
stake—dead after garroting (strangulation) for
those who repented, alive for the unrepentant, or in
effigy for those condemned in absentia. These punishments
were conducted in public ceremonies (called auto da fe)
that could last a whole day. The clerical members of
the tribunal were assisted by civilians (familiares).
The office of familiar of the Inquisition was very prestigious.Many
persons made such accusations out of revenge, or to gain
rewards from the Crown. Very probably the Crown itself was
behind some of the allegations, in
the desire to appropriate wealthy Jews' lands, property and valuables.
Many countries in Europe largely escaped the burning times:
Ireland executed only four "Witches;" Russia only ten.
The craze affected mostly Switzerland, Germany and France. In England
witchcraft was a civil crime punishable by hanging, NOT burning
at the stake. In fact, no witches were executed
by burning in the English colonies of North America. English law
did not permit
To blame any one "Church" is inaccurate. Lutheranism, Calvinism and Anglicanism asserted other sources for divine authority in dealing with witches. The Protestant reformers often agreed with Rome, that witches were a clear and present danger. All four of the major western Christian "churches" persecuted witches to some degree or another.
by my own hand,
1. Cornell University has a "Witchcraft Collection" with over 3,000 titles documenting the history of the Inquisition and the persecution of witches. "It documents the earliest and the latest manifestations of the belief in witchcraft as well as its geographical boundaries, and elaborates this history with works on canon law, the Inquisition, torture, demonology, trial testimony, and narratives. Most importantly, the collection focuses on witchcraft not as folklore or anthropology, but as theology and as religious heresy." See: http://historical.library.cornell.edu/
Another great article
to read on the subject is Recent Developments in the Study