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Word Count: 1,565
The Salem witch trials began with the accusation of people in Salem of being witches But the concept of witchcraft started far before these trials and false accusations occurred In the early Christian centuries the church was relatively tolerant of magical practices Those who were proved to have engaged in witchcraft were required only to do penance But in the late Middle Ages 13th century to 14th century opposition to alleged witchcraft hardened as a result of the growing belief that all magic and miracles that did not come unambiguously from God came from the Devil and were therefore manifestations of evil Those who practiced simple sorcery such as village wise women were increasingly regarded as practitioners of diabolical witchcraft They came to be viewed as individuals in league with Satan Nearly all those who fell under suspicion of witchcraft were women evidently regarded by witch-hunters as especially susceptible to the Devils blandishments A lurid picture of the activities of witches emerged in the popular mind including covens or gatherings over which Satan presided pacts with the Devil flying broomsticks and animal accomplices or familiars
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