The cessation of witch hunts in Maribor, like many other parts of Europe, was not an abrupt event but a slow, intricate process unfolding over several decades. A combination of legal and societal shifts, economic considerations, and advancements in scientific understanding led to the eventual decline and cessation of these witch trials.

  • Legal shifts were pivotal in ushering in the end of witch hunts. In the late 17th and early 18th centuries, legal modifications introduced hurdles in the prosecution and execution of people for witchcraft. For instance, in 1714, Empress Maria Theresa officially put an end to witch burnings across the Austrian Empire, which then included Maribor. Nonetheless, the practice persisted in some remote country courts until as late as 1746.
  • Societal attitudes towards witchcraft and witch trials also underwent significant transformations. The dissemination of Enlightenment thinking, with its emphasis on reason, science, and skepticism of superstition, played a crucial role. These changing perspectives stirred criticisms of witch trials and fostered growing belief in the innocence of many accused.
  • Economic considerations were another driving force behind the termination of witch trials. Some towns, wary of the high costs associated with these trials – including payments to judges, clerks, jailers, executioners, and the expenses of prolonged imprisonments – decided to abandon the practice for purely pragmatic reasons.
  • Religious upheavals, such as the Protestant Reformation and the subsequent Catholic Counter-Reformation, ushered in shifts in religious beliefs and practices. Certain religious leaders began questioning the existence of witches and the legitimacy of the trials.
  • The progression of the scientific revolution played a pivotal role. As understanding of natural phenomena evolved, many events previously blamed on witchcraft started being interpreted in naturalistic terms.

By the mid-18th century, witch hunts in Maribor, and the rest of Europe, had largely ceased. Despite their conclusion, the impacts of these trials lingered for centuries, marking a somber period in Maribor and European history.

Maria Theresa is credited in ending witch hunts.