1634 Witchcraft Panic in Fribourg

Strappado In 1634 in Fribourg, a woman named Mya Varmey was arrested and tortured using a strappado- in which one’s hands are tied behind one’s back and then suspended from the ceiling by them. She confessed to witchcraft and accused several other people, four of which were then arrested.

Two of those four, Catherine des Arbines and Francoise Duchet, confessed and were sentenced to be burned alive, while the third, Francoise Blanc, and fourth, Pierre de Vaux, refused despite being subjected to torture. Francoise was released and Pierre was banished.

Of the next four people accused, one fled before he could be arrested, and the other three, Rosa Perret, Jacques Neyrat, and his wife, Francoise Neyrat, refused to confess. All three were ultimately liberated.

A new round of arrests began three months later on August 10th due to accusations made by a man named Raoul du Plan in a nearby city. There, Raoul confessed to multiple murders, sodomy, and incest, and claimed that he was naming his accomplices. He accused the freshly-released Neyrats, a minor official named Pierre Modoux, and a man named Pierre Sonney, all of whom were then imprisoned. All were subjected to torture. Pierre Sonney was released two days later, Jacques was released eleven days later, Francoise was banished, and Pierre Modoux was stripped of his office, but released.

The panic ultimately resulted in ten arrests, but only three executions and two banishments.


William Monter, Witchcraft in France and Switzerland: The Borderlands During the Reformation. (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1976), 96-99.

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Fribourg, Switzerland
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