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date: 18 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Prosecutions and executions for the crime of witchcraft declined and eventually came to an end during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The decline occurred in all European countries where witch-hunts had taken place, and in the colonies of Spain, Portugal, and England where ecclesiastical or temporal authorities had brought witches to trial. The decline was marked by an increasing reluctance to prosecute witches, the acquittal of many who were tried, the reversal of convictions on appeal, and eventually the repeal of the laws that had authorized the prosecutions. This article discusses patterns of decline; repeal of witchcraft laws; and the reasons why the trials came to an end. It concludes with suggestions for future research.

Keywords: witch trials, witchcraft prosecutions, Europe, colonies, witchcraft laws

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