The Salem witch trials began in Massachusetts in 1692 when two young girls accused three women of witchcraft after a series of inexplicable fits and violent outbursts. As doctors couldn’t understand these hysterical symptoms, they diagnosed witchcraft which led the authorities to hold defaming trials against those accused of carrying out the work of the devil.
Christians had a strong belief that the devil could give certain people known as “witches” the power to harm others in return for their loyalty. This crime was punishable by death and often times was used to justify inexplicable diseases, behaviors and deaths. For example, people often couldn’t explain how their prized cow died and would blame it on a rival, accusing them of putting a hex on them.