Already in the late middle Ages the first witch trials started. The European witchcraft reached its greatest extent, however, in the early modern period (1500-1789). In many parts of Europe, women, men and even children were burned for witchcraft in early modern times. People did not have the same collateral, protection and technology we have today. They were exposed to external influences such as forces of nature or epidemics and could not rationally explain them neither as rationally as personal strokes of fate. The area of today's Switzerland was a center of witch hunts. The belief in the threatening, secretive and damaging witchcraft was an invention of spiritual scholars. Witchcraft was an exceptional crime, which consisted of several offenses and inevitably led to a death penalty be it by fire, sword or water.