Why is it that early modern Europe had such a fervor for witch hunting? Between 1400 to 1782, when Switzerland tried and executed Europe’s last supposed witch, between 40,000 and 60,000 people were put to death for witchcraft, according to historical consensus. The epicenter of the witch hunts was Europe’s German-speaking heartland, an area that makes up Germany, Switzerland, and northeastern France.
As competition for religious market share heated up, churches expanded beyond the standard spiritual services and began focusing on salvation from devilry here on earth. Among both Catholics and Protestants, witch-hunting became a prime service for attracting and appeasing the masses by demonstrating their Satan-fighting prowess.