Turku Trials

The Turku Trials were part of the second wave of witch trials in Finland. The Turku Academy was Finland’s first university and was founded in 1640. This university became a key part for the importation of European ideas of demonology which led to something that resembled a traditional witch-hunt with a concentration on women, as opposed to the early phase during which mostly men were accused.[1] The faculty and students of Turku were interested in magic, witchcraft, and pacts with the devil. During the 1640s there was a trial where a death sentence was passed because of a pact with the devil. A professor named Martin Stodius was accused in 1644 for having taught diabolic acts to a student, and even though he was acquitted of the charge the rumors stayed and Stodius was forced to leave the Academy in 1658.[2] From 1660 to 1670 there were 3 more people tried with witchcraft. The two students that were tried were expelled from the Academy and the widow of a professor was acquitted and her accuser was forced to pay heavy fines. These cases though were treated so severely so as to protect the Academy’s reputation and the belief in diabolism was not a major part of Finnish thought until the great trials of the 1660s and 1670s.[3]


[1] Burns, Witch Hunts in Europe and America. 91.

[2] Antero Heikkinen and Timo Kervinen “Finland: The Male Domination” in Early Modern European Witchcraft, ed. Benget Ankarloo and Gustav Henningsen (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990), 327.

[3] Heikkinen, Early Modern European Witchcraft, 327.


**The Academy no longer exists in Turku, it was moved to Helsinki in 1828 and renamed the University of Helsinki in 1919.

“Building The Future Since 1640.” University of Helsinki. Accessed December 1, 2014. http://www.helsinki.fi/yliopistonhistoria/english/index.htm.

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Royal Academy of Turku
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