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Place :: History 229: The Age of the Witch Hunts

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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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Szyszynko, Poland

In 1691, the noble Zbierzchowski brothers invited the wojt, or governor of a group of villages, and the jury of the Kleczew court to their village. They wished to hold the trial of Jadwiga Wieczorkowa and another woman who stood accused of bewitching their mother. However, the party deemed there was insufficient evidence and left […]

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Kalisz, Poland

In 1584, at the beginning of the period of Polish witch hunts, Elzbieta of Tyniec, appeared before court under accusations of being an incantatrix or witch. She was a married female servant who was accused of using witchcraft to increase the milk output of her cows. She claimed to have learned from Christian citizens a […]

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Lublin, Poland

In 1631, townswoman pani (or Lady) Michalowa wanted to prepare a ritual bath in herb-infused water to heal her child of consumption. So, she asked pani Deczowaska if she knew of any remedies. Pani Deczowaska advised her to purchase a shilling’s worth of beef from a yearling cow, boil it with herbs, and wash the […]

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Slomniki, Poland

In 1674 the peasant woman, Dorota Pilecka, was accused of witchcraft by Krystyna Danielecka who was being interrogated with torture under the suspicion of witchcraft. Dorota was a peasant woman and the wife of the village cobbler. She stood accused of trading Krysyna some peas and turnips for butter. However, after the exchange, the remaining […]

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Originally named Osriaghe, Ossory is a region in south-central Ireland that included the majority of County Kilkenny and a portion of County Laois.  The first people of Ossory most likely were forced to migrate from Munster, a southern region of Ireland. Ossory contains various districts, many of which changed their names throughout Ossory’s history. The […]

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Kilkenny Courthouse and Trial

The Kilkenny courthouse, also known as Grace’s Castle or Grace’s Courthouse, held the witch trial in 1324 against Alice Kyteler and acquaintances, and today is a major tourist attraction in Kilkenny. Although there was much opposition to Bishop Ledrede’s arrest requests, Ledrede did succeed in bringing William Outlaw and Alice’s maid, Petronilla de Midia, to […]

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County Kilkenny

Kilkenny, perhaps the largest portion of Ossory, was reported to have a large amount of heretics, mainly as sorcerers and magic users. When Bishop Ledrede visited Kilkenny in 1324 and heard word about this he immediately set out to rid his diocese of these practices. Witchcraft was labeled a heresy around the 9th century, and […]

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Friesland was a province in the Netherlands that did not execute a single witch through out the entirety of the trials. Correlating to Brian Levack’s arguments in “State Building and Witch Hunting,” the highly organized and centralized provincial court in Friesland prevented executions. The court system not only held a strong presence, but also seemed to […]

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Before the sixteenth century, there was essentially no consensus in the Low countries about the most proper or effective way to conduct witch trials. It was apparent that a normal judicial procedure would not be suitable for the lese majestatis (exceptional crime) of witchcraft, yet municipal authorities were largely undecided or unaware of how to […]

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