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Maren Spliid :: History 229: The Age of the Witch Hunts

Maren Spliid

Maren Spliids is the most notorious alleged witch from Denmark. She was born circa 1600 and was killed November 9, 1641. She lived in Ribe in Jutland where she was married to a successful tailor and ran an inn in one of her husband’s houses. She was accused of witchcraft by Didrik the tailor, a competitor of her husband, of inflicting him with a strange illness that caused him to vomit an unnatural item.[1] Due to her husband’s influence, Maren was acquitted. Didrik continued to accuse her though, and this caused her case to continue to the King’s Court at the top of the appeal system.[2] She was taken to Copenhagen and held for 9 months. Though there is no evidence, it is strongly suspected that during this time Maren was tortured and so she confessed to witchcraft.[3] Her confession differed from many others accused of witchcraft due to its lack of detail.[4] Maren’s confession names her coven, details a red dog that makes her his servant, and when and where the witches gathered. Furthermore Maren was the only Danish witch to confess that when she went to Holy Communion she took the bread and hid it in her apron, and afterward she trampled and spat on it.[5] This aspect of her confession most likely came about because she was questioned by continental theologians as opposed to Scandinavian, so they used their knowledge of Continental demonology.[6]


[1] Elisabet Holst, “Maren Spliid (ca. 1600-1641),” Danish Women Lexicon, last modified 2003  http://www.kvinfo.dk/side/170/bio/1606/

[2] Johansen, Early Modern European Witchcraft, 360.

[3] Holst, “Maren Spliid (ca. 1600-1641),” http://www.kvinfo.dk/side/170/bio/1606/

[4] Johansen, Early Modern European Witchcraft, 360.

[5] Ibid.,361.

[6] Johansen, Early Modern European Witchcraft, 361.

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