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Scottish witches to be pardoned after their death


Thousands of women accused of witchcraft are to be pardoned in Scotland after their deaths nearly 300 years later.

Their crimes range from causing alcohol hangovers and turning into an owl to meet the devil and conjuring storms to sinking King James VI’s ships.

Now, as a result of the petition, their names accused of being witches will be acquitted under the Witchcraft Act between 1563 and 1736.

Of the 4,000 defendants, more than half were executed. More than 85 percent of those convicted were women or girls.

The Sunday Times reported that a bill introduced by members of the Scottish Parliament had the support of Nicola Sturgeon’s administration after a two-year campaign.

Thousands of women accused of witchcraft are to be pardoned in Scotland after their deaths nearly 300 years later. Their crimes range from causing alcohol hangovers and turning into an owl to meet the devil and conjuring storms to sinking King James VI’s ships. (Above, illustration of a woman convicted of witchcraft who was cremated on a stake circa 1692)

The petition was submitted by Claire Mitchell QC, who leads the Witches of Scotland, a group that campaigns for amnesty, a government apology and an official memorial for the victims.

The fear of “witches” has for centuries been fueled by religion. The Catholic Church had decreed that heretics and witches be burned at the stake.

Great Scottish Witch Hunt

Witchcraft laws passed by James IV of Scotland led to a nationwide search for witches that became known as the Great Scottish Witch Hunt of 1597.

It was actually the second of five national witch hunts in Scottish history.

Like the others it was conducted under the supervision of the Royal Commissions.

But it is one of the most infamous of the great Scottish witch hunts as it is not centrally documented.

Instead, it was left to local authorities to record charges and trial outcomes.

About 200 “witches” are believed to have been killed in a witch hunt in 1597.

The other great Scottish witch hunts occurred in 1590-91, 1628-1631, 1649-59 and 1661-62.

Witchcraft laws passed by James IV of Scotland led to a nationwide search for witches that became known as the Great Scottish Witch Hunt of 1597.

It was actually the second of five national witch hunts in Scottish history.

Like the others, it was conducted under the supervision of royal commissions.

Ms. Mitchell was partly inspired by the Lilias Addy case.

After confessing, under duress, to the crimes of casting malicious spells and having sex with the devil, Addie, of Toribern, Fife, died in 1704.

She had been sentenced to death but died in prison, possibly by suicide.

Her body was buried on the village shore under a large stone.

In appreciation, the villagers of Torryburn and members of the Facebook Fife Witches Remembered gathered at her grave on September 1, 2019, and laid wreaths.

The event also commemorated the thousands of Scottish men and women who were tried and murdered for allegedly practicing witchcraft in the 16th and 18th centuries.

Speaking to MailOnline earlier this month, Kaley White, a psychotherapist from West Sussex, cited the case of Gillis Duncan, a Scottish maid.

In a time before GP and NHS surgeries, people were responsible for their own health decisions and may have consulted a local “amazing woman” who used herbs and intention, or “magic” to devise therapeutic potions.

These women were often targeted as “witches,” such as Giles Duncan, a maid in Scotland, who was accused by her employer of witchcraft in 1590.

Gillies’ brutal torture gained a reputation as a healer, sparking a witch hunt in North Berwick where 70 people were tried for witchcraft.

“Healing and knowledge of the plant has become a dangerous profession.”

Pardon, which could be passed next summer, Natalie Dunne, a SNP member behind the bill, which could be passed next summer, told the Sunday Times.

A petition filed by QC Claire Mitchell is set to see thousands of people posthumously.  Ms. Mitchell was partly inspired by the Lilias Ade case (Reconstruction, above).  After confessing, under duress, to the crimes of casting spells and having sex with the devil, Lady Adie, of Torryburn, Fife, Adie died in 1704.

A petition filed by QC Claire Mitchell is set to see thousands of people posthumously. Ms. Mitchell was partly inspired by the Lilias Ade case (Reconstruction, above). After confessing, under duress, to the crimes of casting spells and having sex with the devil, Lady Adie, of Torryburn, Fife, Adie died in 1704.

From Germany to Italy: How the witch hunt spread across Europe

Between 1450 and 1750, tens of thousands of women were executed as “witches” across the continent.

According to Britannica, witch hunts occurred mostly in western Germany, France, northern Italy, and Switzerland, when a climate of superstition led to the persecution of those believed to be practicing witchcraft.

In Spain, Portugal and southern Italy, trials of witches rarely occurred, and executions were extremely rare.

Law played at least as important a role as religion in witch trials, where local courts are more likely to be strict and even violent in their treatment of supposed witches than provincial or supreme courts.

Between 1450 and 1750, tens of thousands of women were executed as

Between 1450 and 1750, tens of thousands of women were executed as “witches” across the continent. In the photo, a 16th-century Dutch Anabaptist cremated, Anneken Hendriks, who was accused by the Spanish Inquisition of heresy

Like its origins, the decline of witch-hunts was gradual, and its demise continued through the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries in part thanks to increased literacy, mobility and means of communication.

Although it varied by region and time, about three-quarters of the convicted “witches” were female.

Some say the cullings are linked to bad weather, as the landscape in Europe gets colder and wetter, which means rat pests and caterpillars, crop failure, and increased famine and disease.

When these difficult situations emerged, “witches” were often blamed, with suspicion sometimes aroused around the suspect once someone blamed their plight on someone else.

However, others point out that when the competition between Catholics and Protestants intensified, witch hunts became a way to please the masses by demonstrating their prowess in fighting demons.



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