The Inquisition was a Roman Catholic tribunal for discovery and punishment of heresy. The period in European history that covers the witch hunts and the Inquisitions are what we pagans call "The Burning Times."
As early as 1450, and even before, there is evidence of witch hunts in all parts of Europe. The first known incidents of modern witch hunts involved the extermination of all females of certain villages. An event of this nature occurred in the 12th century in Russia. All the women of the village were taken from their homes and executed as witches. Similarly, in 1492 in Lagendorf, all but two women of a small village were accused of witchcraft.
In Europe, the popular view of women was the source of witch hunt hysteria. Women were seen as inherently evil and sexual, and therefore possible targets for the devil. There were strong ties between the idea of witchcraft and sexuality. If a woman did not exhibit purity and innocence, she revealed her connection with evil.11 In this way, witchcraft in Europe was in a way a sexual crime. The book Malleus Maleficarum became the guidebook for prosecuting witches in Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It too emphasized the sexual nature of witchcraft. This work by Pope Innocent VIII told stories of men losing their genitalia and consulting with female witches for treatment. It also explained why women were more likely to become witches.
Very few of these people were actually practitioners of Witchcraft. Most of them were just common folk who either didn't practice Christianity or who were unique in their character to stand out in a crowd. It was easy to accuse them without proof and to have them arrested and questioned before the Inquisitors.
And it is true that very few were burned at the stake. That image is so gruesome that it became associated with the entire period. Most were hung, some were crushed by stone, and some were drowned. Contrary to common belief there are very good records still in existence today for many of the individual trials and sentences assessed to the convicted.
According to Kirk Durston, National Director, New Scholars Society:
The most realistic figure for the Spanish Inquisition puts the total killed from AD1480 to AD1808 at up to 31,912. Finally, records indicate that the number of "witches" killed may be over 30,000. Some
argue that records don't tell everything and suggest that maybe even 100,000 were killed. These three events, totaling over 264,000 killed, are thought to be the largest atrocities perpetrated by one or another form of Christendom.
According to Estimates of the Number Killed by the Papacy in the Middle Ages and later by David A. Plaisted:
For two or three centuries, many Protestants have given figures concerning the total number of people killed directly or indirectly by the Papacy during the Middle Ages. The numbers given include 50 million, 68 million, 100 million, 120 million, and 150 million. Roman Catholics typically give much smaller numbers. Frequently the figures are stated without any information about where they came from or how they were computed.
Plaisted takes these suggested figures and takes them apart to get to the real numbers behind the stories. His research covers political conflicts, population and disease that occurred during the same time period as the Inquisitions. I think this is one of the better research papers on the subject and might give you what you're looking for.
Hope that helps.
Medieval Sourcebook: The Inquisition @ http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/inquisition1.html
PBS: The Files of The Inquisition @ http://www.pbs.org/inquisition
How Many Were Killed In The Inquisitions Of Europe (PDF) @ http://www.newscholars.com/papers/Killing,%20Christianity,%20and%20Atheism.pdf
If this link doesn't work, search google for Kirck Durston and the Inquisition, it should come up.
Estimates of the Number Killed by the Papacy in the Middle Ages and later by David A. Plaisted
~ Celtic Shaman, Teacher & Pagan
· 9 years ago