A guide for recognizing witches is published

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The fight of the protestant churches against disbelief was accompanied by witch hunts. Often active and talented members of the community were implicated, for example the healers. A person could be trialed just by anonymous accusation. In 1626, the general superintendent Samson released a guide for recognizing and handling witches. This "Handbook of witches" gave new wind to the hunts. Firstly, the trial by water was used, where the hands and legs of the accused were bound and s/he was lowered into water. The cynical and cruel conviction of these processes was that if the person was innocent, they would sink and if they floated, they would be guilty. If the accused managed to survive the trial by water, it had proved his guilt, and a confession had to follow. This was achieved through torture. In the beginning of the XVII century, the punishment used to be burning at the stake. Later, the blood thirst for witches subsided and the convicted were chained to the church pillory and beaten. Still, the last execution of a witch in Estonia was in 1699.

Image: trial by water

Source: Ain Mäesalu, Tõnis Lukas, Mati Laur, Tõnu Tannberg. Eesti ajalugu I. Avita, Tallinn 1995
Image source: http://www.virumaateataja.ee/170608/gfx/1072248567f45b41a5.jpg

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