The Burning Times
The Burning Times is a 1990 Canadian documentary about the witchcraft trials and persecutions that swept Europe in the 15th-17th centuries, the title being a term used to refer to the period in which those judged to be heretics or witches were customarily tortured and executed, often by fire.
- The witches, the wise women, and the healers were also always the counselors. It's a whole other tradition of knowledge and learning that has been suppressed because it had political implications.
- What strikes me is the vehemence of the letters I receive, the hate mail, regarding having a witch on our faculty. I thought that the burning of witches was settled several centuries ago. But people write me and sign it "a good Christian", "an ecumenical Christian". They say "you and your witch friend can burn in Hell forever". It's just amazing what this brings up — that there's a lot of buried material in a lot of Christians' lives.
- There's no question that in the Middle Ages, Mary was understood as a goddess figure.
- The mere fact that women are singled out particularly I think says something about our society, about our culture which to a large extent is misogynist. We get it even in the New Testament, in the writings of Saint Paul, that it is woman who introduces sin, it is the woman who is the temptress. In a sense, it is the woman who is the cause of the Fall.
Friedrich von Spee
- Why do you search so diligently for sorcerers? Take the Jesuits, all the Religious Orders and torture them. They will confess. If some deny, repeat it a few times. They will confess. Should a few still be obstinate, exorcize them, shave them, only keep on torturing. They will give in. Take the Doctors, the Bishops of the Church. They will all confess.
- Few people realize that the Christianization of Europe resulted in the loss of millions of lives.
- The Church of Rome set up the Inquisition to enforce its will. People who criticized the Church, or held different beliefs, were charged with heresy and executed as criminals.
- The most famous visionary of her age was Joan of Arc. In 1429, she led the French to victory over the English after a hundred years of war. Two years later she was condemned as a heretic and a witch by the same Church that would elevate her to sainthood.
- The Inquisition announced that no one did more harm to the Catholic Faith than midwives. They eased the pain of labor — God's punishment for Eve's sin.
- New laws proclaimed that any woman who dared cure without having studied was a witch and must die. Since most women were barred from University, the rise of the male medical profession was guaranteed. It was the testimony of male doctors that sent many to their death.
- On laws against women in the period of the Inquisition
- History is written by the winners.
Quotes about The Burning Times
- We now know that most persecutions of witches occurred during a 100-year period, between 1550 and 1650, and the total number hanged or burned probably did not exceed 40,000. For years, many Wiccans understood that the figure of 9 million, so casually bandied about by many of us, was hyperbole, yet this number continued to find its way into countless books, films, and news articles. I confess that only last year, I told a reporter that the figure was close to 1 million.
Recently, a German historian, Wolfgang Behringer, discovered the source of the 9 million figure. It was first used by a German historian in the late 18th century. He took the number of people killed in a witch hunt in his own German state and multiplied it by the number of years various penal statutes existed, and then reconfigured the number to correspond to the population of Europe. "Nine million" still gets repeated every time "The Burning Times," a searingly powerful film, is screened or shown on public television. The film's heartrending and appalling descriptions of some of the trials, tortures, and deaths that did occur is not nullified by this new and more accurate research. But it serves no end to perpetuate the miscalculation; it's time to put away the exaggerated numbers forever.