© House of European History, Belgium
Hammer of Witches - a manual of witch-hunting - Frankfurt, 1588
The invention of the printing press around 1440 led to a deluge of information and misinformation. Lack of control over content created unease akin to today’s concerns about fake news, distorted realities and hate speech. The print revolution had many victims. The popularity of texts dealing with witchcraft fuelled a wave of persecution, and led to the deaths of thousands of supposed witches over more than two centuries. Meanwhile, increasingly literate Europeans gained access to books, pamphlets and newspapers empowering them to strive to acquire civil liberties and change the course of history.