The witch hunt is one of the most famous phenomena of Medieval Europe, reflected in many feature films and books. For 200 years of fighting witchcraft, Europeans have killed more than 50 thousand people, mostly women.
During the same time in Russia, only
Contrary to popular belief, the peak of the witch-hunt fell not in the «dense» 10-13 centuries, but in the Late Middle Ages. The last execution for witchcraft
Pursuit of sorcerers
It is noteworthy that it was in Central Europe that the persecution acquired the most widespread character. In Italy itself, Spain, as well as Northern Europe, witchcraft trials were sporadic and rarely ended in execution.
At the same time, the witch-hunt quickly spread to those territories that were affected by the religious Reformation. In Germany and the Scandinavian countries, all criminal cases were considered by a secular court, which was looking for «enemies of the faith» and became famous for an even more cruel and irreconcilable approach to supernatural forces.
According to historians, the search for witches became widespread due to the economic and social crisis that hit Western Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries. At the same time, the most zealous searches for witches were in regions with a weak central government, which suffered more than others from wars, epidemics and hunger.
In a similar way, the authorities tried to displace popular anger on fictional characters, their political opponents, bored mistresses and objectionable servants. In addition, it was possible to take property from the accused, which was used by those who wanted easy money.
The Russian kingdom was an Orthodox state. The Orthodox Church, unlike the Catholic Church, was not absorbed in the idea of the sinfulness of the flesh.
In Catholic Europe, it was believed that women, due to their physiological characteristics, are vicious and prone to sinfulness. Under the attraction of base desires, they were more vulnerable to the persuasion of the Devil. This led to accusations of witchcraft on women, most often, beautiful and young ladies.
To Orthodox Christians, the physical inferiority of women was little known and did not care at all. In addition, there was no protracted religious and social crisis in Russia, as in Europe. There was no Reformation, there were no religious wars and, due to the climate and large territories, diseases spread less.
In addition, the period of the XV-XVI centuries is the time of the formation of the Russian kingdom, and the strengthening of central power. Local monarchs did not need to assert themselves at the expense of witches.
However, rare witchcraft lawsuits