During the sudden spread of witchcraft throughout Europe, the dominant church in each country took control of punishments. The holiest people truly believed that methodically torturing men and women was the only way to cleanse them of their sins. Were the accusations and torture taken too far? Why were more women accused than men? And to what extent did the Church go to justify their actions?
In Germany, witchcraft was particularly bad. The Holy Roman Empire was in control of almost everything, but there was no overhead government keeping an eye on smaller courts throughout the nation. By the late 16th century, anyone getting accused of witchcraft would killed eventually. Between 1587-1594, 368 "witches" were killed from just twenty two villages. Two of these villages were completely wiped out due to such extensive killing. In 1617 alone, 102 witches were killed. Children as young as 7 years old were being accused and killed, and as many as 900 witches were killed under the control of Bishop Phillip Adolf alone.
If you know anything about Germans or their history, it's obvious that they do pretty much everything in a calculated and methodical manner. Well, this has been true since the 17th century. Not only was it enough to burn witches alive, they also thought that confessions were not valid unless a witch had been tortured. The Hexenhaus was built so it could hold 40 witches at a time, and enough torture equiptment for all of them. Similar to going to a resort nowadays, the witches were given a tour on their first day in the Hexenhaus and shown all the torture machines and told exactly how they worked.
German torture is a world of it's own. Legally, you were allowed to torture witches until they bled. It may not sound bad, but truly think of all the harmful things you could do to the human body without shedding any blood. These torture sessions also would not end until witches named accomplices because surely there is no way a witch could practice magic alone!
The reaction to witchcraft in Spain was only better in the sense that if you confessed, you were tortured just a little less. But still died regardless. In Spain, most of the accused were younger women who were single and thought to have practiced love magic in order to find a husband.
The Spanish Inquistion viewed everything from public humiliation to being burned in the streets as a fitting punishment for witches. Over 125,000 people in Spain were tried for 'heretic.' The consistent problem with witchcraft in Europe was that everyone accused was guilty until proven innocent. But no one was proven innocent out of constant state of paranoia.
Interestingly enough, while torture sessions took place, there was always a Priest present reading different scriptures, books about exorcisms, and there to witness a confession. The Spanish Inquistion believed in having a hired "torturer" so that there was blood on the hands of the church. It's kind of like how nowadays, if you hire someone to kill a person, it's really not your own fault they died, right? Surely not.
The Spanish Inquistion believed in having what they called Auto da Fe several times a year. On these days, the Inquistion would bring out all of the accused witches and burn them in front of all the townspeople. They would come out dressed in san benito's with images of the Devil sewn into them. It was practically mandatory that everyone from the community come, and anyone who didn't was immediately suspected of being a witch.