The early modern period in Europe is often characterized as a period of reason when great strides were made in science and culture. However, it was also a period of religious intolerance and mass hysteria and this is exemplified in the witch-craze that occurred in Europe in the period from 1550-1700. At this time thousands of people were prosecuted for the crimes of witchcraft or sorcery
and countless people were executed for these offenses all over Europe. The origins of this Witch Craze are various and complex. This article will demonstrate that the origins of the craze were class, gender, social and religious conflicts. The prosecution of witches was related to specific problems in the historical period and that alleged witches were as often as not unfortunate scapegoats or the victims of powerful religious and political processes.
[[File:Witches one.jpg|200px|thumb|left|An drawing of witches from the 16th century]]