A period of early modern European history (spanning from the 1400s to the middle 1600s) during which there was an increased paranoia and thus hysteria that there were witches practicing forms of vice to harm the people... and these "witches" were thus tried and executed for it.
Contrary to many pagan sources, the death toll of nine million people, almost exclusively women, who were trying to keep their indigenous pre-Christian religions alive, is about as real as the Blair Witch Project; records show that somewhere between 50,000 and 300,000 people were tried (and about 48% of them executed) on charges of witchcraft.
The loss of nine million people would severely have crippled society. And those tried and executed were, by and large, Christians who asked for God to save them; anybody with strange quirks, liberal views, red hair, suspicious skin marks (freckles, birthmarks, moles, warts, etc), animal companions, or some difference that called attention, you were suspect. You were especially vulnerable if you were a woman, but roughly 25% of the victims were men (virtually all of Iceland's accused were men).
And many countries were virtually untouched by the this frenzy; Ireland saw only four "witches" executed while Russia saw ten executions; Germany, Switzerland, and eastern France saw the most hysteria.
The second most popular book of the Burning Times (after the Bible) was the Malleus Maleficarum ("The Witch's Hammer"), an absolutely humorless and misogynistic guide to "finding witches".
Southwestern Germany saw the worst of the Burning Times; Wurzburg saw several hundred executed through the late 1620s, including several priests and a number of children.
There were allegedly towns, largely in Germany, where there were no women left after the Inquisitors came through.
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