Basically what the title says: what were the most important causes of the 1692 Salem Witchcraft Trials?

We are having a discussion over this topic in one of my history courses, and a classmate argued that the drive for wealth, power, and status can explain why the trials occurred in Salem.

I don't really see how that can be used to argue why Salem experienced what they did, as the drive for wealth, power, and status are pretty fundamental in why people do what they do throughout history.

I'm of the opinion that Salem was caused by an array of factors, including tension between townspeople, poor crop yields caused by climatic anomalies, and in general, irrationality that plagued humans during this time period due to their lack of knowledge about the scientific world.

Is there anything that I'm missing that would help explain Salem, and in general do you believe the factors I listed are strong enough to overcome my classmate's broad interpretation of the subject?


P.S. This is not asking which types of people were suspected. Not sure why stack exchange thinks those questions are the same.


There is some thought that is was a ergot fungus that was the caused of the mayhem.

The idea is this: The poor people had to plant their crops in swamps and substandard lands, and the rye contracted this fungus. People ate the fungus, and hallucinated and had a bunch of strange behavior. Viewing the witch trials as a drug filled rage gives it a different perspective than the fictionalized version by Authur Miller.

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    Yes. All people in Middle ages often had hallucinations, and they LIKED that and loved that black bread. On the contrary, clergy was forbidden to eat it. They had to raise the religios fanatism among their sheeps, but pastors had to remain sober. – Gangnus Sep 13 '17 at 8:51

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