Until very recently, the historiography of witchcraft in Poland treated the subject as an object lesson in the dangers of fanaticism, superstition, and feudal oppression; only in the last fifteen years have new studies challenged this view. It is difficult to estimate the number of trials of accused and of executed witches, due to the destruction of archives during World War II. Estimates from the mid-twentieth century are certainly far too high. Minimum figures of 558 executed, out of 1,316 accused in 867 trials, have been established by Małgorzata Pilaszek; a reasonable estimate of executions might be in the range of 2,000. Accused witches were overwhelmingly peasants or commoner townspeople, more than 90 percent were women; many were married and there is no clear pattern related to age.
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