Religion has always played a key role in establishing the accepted views and beliefs of society. The church's enormous influence has caused many societal changes throughout history. Among them was the influence of the church during the fourteenth, fifteenth, sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. The church, striving for conformity, as it still does today, played a key role in enhancing the lengths to which the judicial system of the time would go in order to rid the world of its evil. This need for religious and political conformity spawned a number of different issues for the time, many of them based on the belief that the problems of the world or even their neighbors were the works of the devil, who now took the shape of a man, through his sly and cunning ways of manipulating weaker persons to do his evil bidding. This grew into the historical witch-hunts, as they are known today.
As the church forced the issue onto the people those who did not conform or stood behind there old beliefs were believed to be in league with the devil and therefore witches. Due to the patriarchal society, women were believed to be the weaker of the sexes. Such as it was, it was believed a woman needed a man to survive the trials and tribulations of life because she could not possible handle it herself. Hence, accused witches were mostly women. In general, they were older, single or widowed women. It was believed they had made pacts with the devil in order to survive and therefore had to repay him in some manner. So naturally, his repayment was in the form of evil works.
As the reformations of both the Protestant and Catholic churches came into light, it also increased the search for the "ungodly or those who had renounced God. The churches reinforced the need for purity, set strict guidelines as to what was right and wrong and the need to rid themselves and others of the evil the devil had brought before them including in the church.