The Salem Witch Trials of 1692-1693 were by far the largest and most lethal outbreak of witchcraft hysteria in American history. Yet Salem was just one of many incidents during the Great Age of Witch Hunts which took place throughout Europe and her colonies over many centuries. Indeed, by European standards, Salem was not even a large outbreak. But what exactly were the factors that made Salem stand out?
England's most famous witch trial took place in Lancashire in 1612. Ten of the so-called Pendle Witches were hanged at Lancaster Castle after being deemed guilty of witchcraft. Their ghosts reputedly haunt the village of Newchurch which is where one of the witches is said to be buried.
When people hear the words "Witch Trials", the first thing that usually pops into their minds is Salem. What most would be surprised to learn is that the unnecessary and heinous act of trying, torturing, and killing "witches" goes back centuries before the Salem Witch Trials, actually originating in the fifteenth century in Europe.