The age of witch trials lasted from 1450 to 1750 and encompassed most of Western Europe. Witchcraft trials can be divided into two categories: Central and Peripheral. The former are easily identified by their defining characteristics. Central trials, like those in Southwestern Germany, mostly took place between 1562 and 1684 and were large and violent: 480 trials led to more than 3,229 people being burned at the stake. These trials focused their malice almost exclusively on middle-aged and elderly women who were alone in the world. They were mostly driven by religious zeal, paranoia, and fear. Central witch-hunts eventually came to an end due to the skepticism of intellectuals and the depletion of women in the affected communities.
The Basque Trials of Spain, on the other hand, were Peripheral because they were an oddity compared to Central witchcraft trials. They took place between 1609 and 1614 and were driven by the belief that local witches were harming innocent people. In these trials no one was safe. Adults of both genders were accused at equal rates but, unusually, children were the largest group accused. More than 7,000 people were accused in the Basque witchcraft trials, easily topping Southwestern German numbers. However, due to the intervention of the Spanish Inquisition and skeptics like Inquisitor Alonso de Salazar Frias, the Basque trials differed from those in Germany. They involved little uncontrolled mob violence or unsanctioned torture and ended in the execution of only eleven people.