Author Archives: Amanda Wahlers

Plague-Spreaders in Geneva

The city of Geneva, Switzerland generally had remarkably mild witch trials and a very low execution rate at only 21%. The panics in Geneva involving plague-spreaders, or engraisseurs, however, saw both many people accused and many executed. In 1530, an engraisseur panic began when the master of the plague hospital in Geneva, his wife, the hospital […]

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Werewolves in French Switzerland

To peasants whose livelihoods depended upon livestock, wolves were one of the most feared and loathed animals, making the idea of transformations into werewolves an ominous one; however, folk belief about werewolves and demonological beliefs about them differed significantly. While the educated demonologists viewed the belief that humans could transform into werewolves as superstitious, they […]

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Johannes Nider’s Formicarius, 1435

Johannes Nider’s Formicarius was a demonological treatise written during the Council of Basel in Switzerland. Nider’s treatise detailed the features that were commonly thought to be a part of the witches’ sabbat, including cannibalistic infanticide as an initiation ritual: “When Peter had questioned one of the captured witches how they ate babies, she said: ‘This […]

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Witchcraft Panic in the Bishopric of Basel, 1670

During the spring of 1670 in the Franches-Montagnes district of the Bishopric of Basel, three old women assaulted a man who disturbed them. The women claimed to have mistaken him for the Devil, and he thought he had interrupted a witch’s sabbat. The old women were already suspected of causing possessing in some children and drying […]

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1634 Witchcraft Panic in Fribourg

 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 […]

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