10 Historical Misconceptions


Witches Were Burned at the Stake in Salem

Although there really were witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692, and 20 people were put to death, none of the accused were burned at the stake. Hanging was the method of execution, although one victim was crushed to death under heavy stones.

Moreover, there's no evidence these people were practicing witchcraft or were possessed by the devil. Historians now believe that they, along with the townspeople who persecuted them, were suffering from mass hysteria. Others believe the accusers were afflicted with a physical illness, possibly even hallucinating after eating tainted rye bread.