Top 10 Famous Trials That Changed The History – InfotainWorld

There are some famous trials that have created impact on the History. They either have changed the way of ideologies or build something totally new in the society. Most of these genius people did evil things and were punished in crime cases while other got convicted because of ignorance of the society.

What is a trial and what makes a trial very important and a historic one?

A trial is a hearing by a judge or a group of judges for the determination of the truth of a criminal case. Trials are mostly famous court cases. The decision is judged after the fair examination of all the evidence and eyewitness statements leading to an offense against the law. Thousands of trials are held every month in the world to determine the facts and to punish the guilty. However, some trials involve extremely important personalities. It may include important and charismatic religious figures, notables in politics, philosophers etc. In the past, there have been many historic trials of notable figures and in the following rundown, we have listed the 10 most notable and famous trials that changed history

10-The Massachusetts Trials

Famous Trials

They are more commonly known as the “Salem Witch Trials”. As the name indicates this trial is linked with witches and witchcraft and wizardry. Among the famous trials in US history “Salem Witch Trials” is famous one. People accused belonging to the world of invisible were executed including individuals both male and female, but the majority was of females. Even infants too died in prison. Magic and supernatural happenings were common in old days especially in the 17th century and so persecutions too became common from 1560 to 1670 when this was associated with the devil and evil doings. Salem trials began after the strange acts of people.

The odd acts made the people appear as wizards but the reality was far more different. Actually, this change in locals’ behavior was a repercussion of political, social and religious issues in the society which affected them mentally. Thus, there was a serious change in their attitude leading to a state of being mad and so they were imprisoned. Salem witch trials executions count is 20. This trial was famous because of its resemblance with fancy fairy tales.

9-Alfred Dreyfus

Famous Trials

Alfred Dreyfus was born on 9 October 1859. He was a Jew and by profession a Lieutenant Colonel in the French army. Trial against him began in 1894 when accusations were raised against him of transferring secret as well as important information to the German government. He was soon arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment on the order of court. The case was supposed to end here but a twist came later. This turn in the story was brought by a new chief in military intelligence in August 1896. Clues were found indicating that the culprit was not Dreyfus but someone else. Later it was found that Major Esterhazy could be responsible for this passing of confidential information to the neighboring country.

Therefore, after one year, the case was opened again. When this news was leaked to media it became an everyday debate topic. It divided people into mainly two groups. One became against Alfred and the other in favor of Alfred.The one believing in Alfred’s innocence demanded an end to his imprisonment. But, unfortunately, the second time as well, he was proved as a traitor. On public insistence, he was freed but this freedom was of no use for him as he said:

The government of the Republic has given me back my freedom. It is nothing for me without my honor

Later in July 1906 Alfred was officially exonerated by the military commission with a higher rank.

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8-Martin Luther

Famous Trials

A German individual born on 10 November 1483 was a priest as well as professor of theology. He played a vital role in the Protestant reformation. The reason why he had to confront the judges was his disagreement with the Roman Catholic teachings. In his point of view, the teachings were wrong. In 1516, he started justifying his disagreement leading to grouping among the masses. The one who favored Luther were called Lutherans. For him, selling of ‘indulgences’ by the Catholic clergy was fallacious. In his view, it emphasized on the opinion that heaven can be bought by money.

He wrote his “Ninety – Five” thesis of 1517 which further described the incorrect practices of Catholics. Another reason why he was called by the judges was that his teachings were against the divine teachings of Bible. He believed that eternal life cannot be achieved by good deeds in the world.  Those who acknowledged his perspectives were very less. He escaped from the punishment and went to live his life with Fredrick. The books written by him were burned on court’s order.

7-Charles l of England

Famous Trials

Charles was the head of three kingdoms of Great Britain: England, Ireland and Scotland. His reign lasted from the very first day he took charge till his capital punishment. After his father and brother’s death, he inherited the above-mentioned states. From the very beginning, he was at conflict with the parliamentarians. He believed that being a king, only he should govern the land using his own wisdom. His anti-religious acts such as questioning the practices in the church, demanding its conversion to the Anglican way, further increased hatred among the parliamentarians as well as the Bishops.

His religious conflicts led to the famous Bishop Wars in which he did not take help of parliamentarians. These wars lead to his financial crisis which further weakened him. In 1642, English Civil war begins which was between Charles and the members of parliament. No doubt, this civil war was the reason for his decline. He surrendered in front of the Scottish army who gave him to the English army and from here his trial began. The court declared him as a traitor. He was executed. His head was presented in front of a crowd of thousands.

6-Galileo Galilei

Famous Trials

He was an Italian physicist, engineer, philosopher, and astronaut. His role in the scientific revolution was exemplary. He is titled as ‘father of physics ‘and ‘father of astronomy‘. Services rendered by him were controversial because everyone believed in the geocentric system. Galileo’s writings showed that Sun is the center of the world and Earth revolves around it. This view of him faced several objections by the religious people as well as scientists. Priests and monks objected this as this clearly disagreed with the Biblical teachings. According to Psalm 93:1, 96:10 and 1 chronicles 16:30

The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved.

This clearly opposed Galileo’s discoveries. Scientists raised their voices against this because they thought that if this is true so annual stellar parallax should be noted but none was and so the stars couldn’t possibly be so far and greater in size than the Sun. He was forced to leave his views and was sentenced house arrest.

5-John Hus

Famous Trials
Image credit: Jean Baptiste Guth

John Hus was born in 1372 a Czech priest. Known as the first church reformer he belonged to a property stricken family. He got trained for the priesthood and studied till doctorate level. John was greatly impressed by Wycliffe writings and soon his views changed. He developed great interest in Biblical teachings and emphasized on the wrong doings of the Catholics. His views were considered really controversial. Germans tried to suppress his voice and other Czechs but were forced to flee. But when he lost the support of his followers, he lost his superiority as well. On 5th June 1415, his trial was started which ended on 8th June 1415 after a series of hearings. Hus was given a chance of leaving his beliefs but he refused and was accordingly punished.

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4-Giordano Bruno

Famous Trials

He was perhaps the greatest astronomer of the 16 century. Bruno was born in 1548. He is famous for his cosmological theories. Trials against him began in 1593 and after 7 years in 1600, they ended. During these seven years, he was kept in Tower of Nona. The reason why he confronted the court was because of the charges against him which included immoral conduct, heresy, and blasphemy. Among famous criminal trials Bruno trial is most popular. His criminal history includes pointing fingers at Catholic believes and virginity of Mary (mother of Jesus Christ). Talking about the existence of multiple worlds and dealing with magic were his major mistakes.His philosophies were against Christianity. He even opposed Aristotle. Bruno tried his level best to prove himself innocent but failed. On 20 January 1600, Pope Clement VIII sentenced him to death during a trial.

See Also: 10 Most Evil Popes in History

3-Joan of Arc

Famous Trials
Image credit: Hermann Anton Stilke

The heroine of France named Joan of Arc was born on 6 January 1412 in France. She was also commonly known as “The Maid of Orleans”. She was regarded as a heroine due to her great services rendered during the Hundred Years’ War. The trial for heresy began mainly due to political intrigues. Her court trial began on 9 January 1431 at Roven after she was captured by the Duke of Burgundy. Bishop Cauchon and vice inquisitors of France were the judges.

Eyewitnesses describe her and narrated the odd actions shown by her like hearings voices etc. She even preferred to wear men’s clothes. At last she was considered as a “witch” and was sentenced to death. Living in prison for so long lead to her illness. The execution took place in 1431 by burning her at the stake. However, in 1456, the case was reopened and she was proved innocent. Therefore, she was given the title of a martyr and was also canonized by the church.


Famous Trials
Image Credit: Jacques Louis David

Socrates was a renowned Greek philosopher. He is known as the pioneer of western philosophy. Socrates was killed by Jacques-Louis David because of Socrates being a detractor and a fault finder in democracy. He seriously criticized the social and moral position of the land and even criticized the ideas such as ‘might is right ‘which was followed by every other man at that time. Socrates wanted to improve and groom the Athenian thinking. But soon his teachings were considered as slow poison for the brains of the masses and was accordingly he was put on trial. He was subjected to two main charges against him; one of moral corruption and impiety. The charges were proved against him during the trial. He was sentenced to death by poison. This poison was given to him in a drink which led to his execution.


Famous Trials

Also known as Jesus Christ, he was born to Maryam, a virgin, in 4 BC. Jesus is a prime figure of Christianity. Among famous trials in history Jesus hearing was the most impactful in history. According to Christian belief, he was conceived by the Holy Spirit. He was arrested reportedly for blasphemy. After Jesus Christ was arrested his trial began. He was treated very harshly, as a captive. According to John, Jesus was first taken to Anna’s and then the priest. This was because Jesus wanted to avoid defending himself and to avoid giving explanations in favor of himself or proving himself right. At one instance, he was even slapped by a Jewish officer. Jesus was accused of blasphemy as he repeatedly said that he is the son of God.

Later Jesus was taken to Pilate’s court. Pilate was not sure whether Jesus deserved punishment or not but he was forced by the Jews and the public to punish him. Jesus was taken Via Dolorosa for crucifixion. One their way, he was offered concoction a natural painkiller but he refused to take it. Jesus was crucified at Golgotha and on each side he had a person standing next to him, one defending him and the other against him. After he was crucified it is believed that he was seen several times by his followers.

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