How did racism lead to burning caucasian women at the stake for witchcraft? Hold on for this wild ride through time that makes way more sense now that we have more scientific knowledge and a wider view of interconnected histories. This gentleman TikToker who gives oral history lessons is glad people are finally talking about the relationship between persecution, cleanliness, and systemic racism because he says people that are considered “white” today would not have been throughout other periods of history. Groups like the Saxons were persecuted for having cleanly hygiene practices, as were the Norse. These things became further confused when viking traders were thought to be a people instead of an occupation, but anthropological evidence has shown these seafarers may have actually been one of the most diverse communities at the time.
Vikings were known for their sagas and their extensive sea-faring travels, and as such they often welcomed people from far away lands to join their crews - which led to much more genetic diversity. Modern anthropologists and archaeologists are discovering that many burial items they believed to have been procured through raiding were actually appropriate to the originating culture of the viking found with it, indicating that other faiths were welcomed such as Muslims. Even gender didn’t prevent one from working as a viking, as many warrior graves have now been shown to be women - a fact that was overlooked simply because of patriarchal assumptions of former scientists who studied the remains.
The persecution of “clean” cultures also led to the demonization of Jewish people who were looked upon with suspicion for surviving the plague a little too well. This was, of course, due to hygiene practices and other things associated with religion that we now understand to prevent the spread of germs and viruses but at the time seemed like magic.
While roughly a third of the population of Europe was dying from bubonic plague, some of the men began calling certain women witches because they also weren’t getting sick. Which women were these? The ones with cats and a little medical knowledge of natural remedies from local plants. Why the cats? The plague was spread by flea bites which were being carried in on rodents, but cats would keep the rodents away from these women’s homes so they weren’t getting bitten by the fleas. This is why cats are still associated with witches to this day.
Our history teacher for the day signs off by reminding everybody that a lot of history is wrong simply because European men were confused.