Estimates of Executions
(Recorded and Estimated)

The following table lists current estimates of the number of Witches killed in various countries during the Burning Times (1300-1800). "Recorded" executions are ones for which we have trial evidence. "Estimates" are the total number of deaths scholars believe occurred in these countries. Estimates are usually much higher than recorded deaths, because scholars compensate for lost records, unrecorded deaths, lynching, etc.

This table does not include all estimates of the death toll. Older and popular books often contain higher numbers because they're not based on solid evidence. (See "The Revolution of 1977-1981" and "The Impact of the New Evidence" for more on the problems with older estimates.) I've only presented current scholarly estimates, numbers that most experts today would find believable. Most of these numbers come from trial record counts.

The structure of this table is based on an unpublished article by Dr. Ronald Hutton, called "Counting the Witch Hunt." The essay is an invaluable road-map through the maze of Witch trial statistics. Dr. Hutton generously sent me a copy, for which I am most grateful.


Witches Killed in the Burning Times

Country Recorded
Death Toll
America 36 35 - 37  
Austria ?? 1,500 - 3,000  
Belgium ?? 250  
Bohemia ?? 1,000 - 2,000  
Channel Islands 66 66 - 80  
Denmark ?? 1,000  
England 228 300 - 1,000  
Estonia 65 100  
Finland 115 115  
France 775 5,000 - 6,000 (1)
Germany 8,188 17,324 - 26,000 (2)
Hungary 449 800  
Iceland 22 22  
Ireland 4 4 - 10  
Italy 95 800 (3)
Latvia ?? 100  
Luxembourg 358 355 - 358  
Netherlands 203 203 - 238  
Norway 280 350  
Poland ??? 1,000 - 5,000 (4)
Portugal 7 7  
Russia 10 10  
Scotland 599 1,100 - 2,000  
Spain 6 40 - 50  
Sweden ?? 200 - 250  
Switzerland 1,039 4,000 - 5,000 (5)
Grand Total: 12,545 35,184 - 63,850  

Sources for these figures.

1) No trial record counts have been done for Alsace, Brittany, Burgundy, Navarre, and Normandy, or for the Rhone region after 1500. Therefore the recorded execution figure is definitely far too low.

2) Again, the recorded executions figure is too low. There are no counts available for Bavaria, Brandenburg-Prussia, and Saxony. Moreover, while the Witch-crazes of north-central Germany are well-studied, the small trials in this region have not been counted.

One modern historian (Anne Llewellyn Barstow, in _Witchcraze_) estimated that 50,000 German Witches died. I have not included her estimate, for two reasons:

a) It is twice as large as all other current estimates; and
b) Her own evidence does not support this figure.

Barstow's estimated deaths for the various regions of Germany show a total of 25,419 for the entire country. This number is based on trial evidence, and is in line with other scholarly estimates. The 50,000 figure comes from an older work and is not based on solid evidence. In fact, it contradicts the rest of Barstow's data.

3) Recorded deaths are too low. We have no counts for the Duchy of Savoy (the area which appears to have been worst hit) or for the Alpine regions after 1500.

4) Polish Witch trials are currently being counted. Dr. Ronald Hutton of Bristol University says that preliminary reports suggest the death toll will be somewhere around 1,000.

Anne Llewellyn Barstow (_Witchcraze_) states that 15,000 Polish Witches died. This figure comes from an older work: _Procesy Czarownic w Polsce w XVII:XVIII Wieku_, by Bohdan Baranowski. There is no solid evidence to support this figure, and most modern scholars reject it.

5) Again, the recorded deaths are too low. Only the French-speaking cantons (approximately one quarter of the country) have been thoroughly studied.

Return to Top