I want to write a Story about a medieval village This Village is plagued by a lot of misfortunes and as people are they blame it on witches but i am having a hard Time finding good occurences. The Thing is: They need to be explainable by a medieval science guy and the explanations does not have to be correct but belivable by "sience" and some wishfull thinking that magic does not exist.

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    $\begingroup$ This is quite vague. It could be droughts, floods, wildfires, etc. What makes one answer better than another? $\endgroup$
    – BMF
    May 1 at 22:06
  • $\begingroup$ Lightning was considered as a sign of the wrath of gods in certain cultures and basically monsters in others. Basically any event you can't quite explain at your current period and level of understanding of the world can be attributed to magic, and by proxy to witches, including technology too advanced for them to understand. It might be better if you elaborate the things a best answer should have to be considered as such so your question doesn't get closed as opinion based. Welcome to WBSE. Make sure to make our tour on how the site works. $\endgroup$ May 1 at 22:12
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    $\begingroup$ Proving a negative is notoriously difficult. If my crops failed because it did not rain how can one prove the witch did not prevent rain? If my livestock got sick, the fact that other people had sick livestock does not prove the witch was not behind all of it. The fact that she cannot do magic on demand is no proof either; I can bake bread, but not at the snap of a fingers - it takes ingredients and setting up. For your story you can have an educated skeptic like Maimonides. But even today, it is just about impossible to get believers to stop believing. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    May 2 at 0:00
  • $\begingroup$ Hello @Jadewolf, thanks for asking your first question. Unfortunately, there's not enough information here to effectively answer the question, so I'm going to VTC:NDC. This isn't a punishment, it (when combined withe the other 4 votes) is a pause. I'll be happy to retract when you edit your Q and add the clarifications. The medieval era was from the 5th to the 15th century A.D. That's an enormous period of scientific change. Also, there's a huge difference between London, Bucharest, and Cairo. (*Continued*) $\endgroup$ May 2 at 2:19
  • $\begingroup$ ...So we need to know the exact reference date that reflects the tech level of your story and a specific city that reasonably reflects the culture of your people. Next, to turn this from an off-topic infinite list of things to an on-topic finite list of things, we need to understand the scope of the effect you're looking for. You can't have everything, that's fishing for ideas and off-topic. Are we looking for personal-effects, city-wide effects, or regional effects? ... $\endgroup$ May 2 at 2:23

Just about anything could be blamed on witches, including a stillborn calf, a bad year for crops, an accidental fire, or a plague. During the witch hunts, Witches were blamed for just about anything that went wrong. Most of these things are just bad things that happen sometimes, but people really like having someone to blame for their misfortune. and the trouble with this is that even if you can find a definite cause, the folks might still blame the witch.

Say a cow knocks a lantern over and burns down half of Chicago (which actually happened once, by the way.) The people might blame a witch for the fire. If someone discovers what really happened, the people might still blame the witch for jinxing the lantern to fall over.

In most cases, though, there won't be a clear, underlying cause; the event will have been caused by multiple things far outside of anyone's control. A bad harvest might be caused by a drought, which might have been caused by unusually weak winds that year. The townsfolk likely won't be super happy with that answer; they want a specific person to blame.


You might be better off concentrating -- as those who opposed witch-hunting often did -- on the difficulties of proving that a person is a witch responsible for a given harm.

For instance, take a storm that ruined crops or sank a ship. We would be hard put nowadays to prove that a storm was not caused by witchcraft. But rigorous judges would demand answers to question such as these:

  • How do you know that storm was not a natural occurrence?
  • If you have evidence that it was not natural, how do you know it was caused by witchcraft rather than divine intervention, or a devil's work?
  • If you have evidence that it was witchcraft, do you have evidence that this person was the witch responsible?

Those who claimed that a witch could not do things would do so on theological grounds, not scientific. For instance, the Church taught that it was impossible for a witch to affect the weather.


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