In 1692 in Salem, Massachusetts, a group of 9- to 11-year-old girls were fascinated by stories told by Tituba, a slave, and began playing with the idea of magic.
They pretended to have fits and then claimed they were the victims of spells cast by witches in the town.
Because, at the time, people believed in witches as representations of the Devil, these were serious charges and the suspected witches were arrested.
The girls’ “fits” continued, and more and more people were arrested. At the trials the male judges accepted the girls’ frantic screams as proof of witchcraft.
Many of those accused “confessed” and asked to be forgiven. Those who did not, however, were sentenced to die.
In the end 14 women, including the highly respected Rebecca Nurse, and 6 men were killed. All were later shown to be innocent.