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Ordeal by water was associated with the witch-hunts of the 16th and 17th centuries: an accused who sank was considered innocent, while floating indicated witchcraft.

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Trial by ordeal was an ancient judicial practice by which the guilt or innocence of the accused was determined by subjecting them to an unpleasant, usually dangerous experience. Classically, the test was one of life or death and the proof of innocence was survival. In some cases, the accused was considered innocent if they escaped injury or if their injuries healed (or sometimes the reverse.

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