The Middle Ages were not particularly known for their tolerance. It was a time of great ignorance, and bad hygiene, where peasants regularly pointed suspicious fingers at each other and persecuted people of different beliefs. One of the groups that was hunted down were witches – or rather, any man or woman who just happened to be next to the accuser’s pig before it died.
It was fairly easy to determine whether a person was a witch or not. You simply tied them to a bag of rocks and threw them into a lake, and if they floated, they were a witch! You then dragged them out and promptly burned them at the stake. If, on the other hand, the person sunk to their death, you knew that they weren’t a witch, and gave them a big posthumous hug.
It’s not known how many people were killed or imprisoned for being a witch. Some claim tens of thousands, while others believe far less. What is known is that many were accused of sorcery and put on trial for their villainous deeds (with the trial mostly consisting of the person being pelted with rancid tomatoes for half an hour.) This is far different in modern times, where they merely have to explain to people the tenets of a mysterious thing called ‘science’.