Persecution for witchcraft

witchcraft1My circle is planning to do a little extra honoring of those persecuted for witchcraft. In the book “Ancient Ways” by Pauline Campanelli there is a sampler of embroidered names she did to honor some of the women killed I believe during the Salem witch trials.

We are going to use some of the names from a timetable…

This information came from:

Persecution of Witches & Witchcraft

383     Priscillian of Avila was executed. He was accused of Manichaeism, but the official reason for burning him was witchcraft.

906     Canon Eposcopi, a collection of church laws, appeared. It declared that belief in witchcraft was heretical.

1022     A group of pious and ascetic mystics who denied key tenets of Christianity were burned as witches in Orleans. Contemporary Christian writers branded them as Devil worshippers who indulged in sex orgies and the murder of children – standard accusations for all dissident groups at the time.

1141     Hugh of St. Victor wrote Didascalicon, which included a strong denunciation of using or studying magic:

Magic was not accepted as part of philosophy, but stands with a false claim outside it; the mistress of every form of iniquity and malice, lying about the truth and truly infecting men’s minds, it seduces them from divine religion, prompts them from the cult of demons, fosters corruption of morals, and impels the minds of its devotees to every wicked and criminal indulgence. … Sorcerers were those who, with demonic incantations or amulets or any other execrable types of remedies, by the cooperation of the devils or by evil instinct, perform wicked things.

1231     Conrad of Marburg was appointed as the first Inquisitor of Germany, setting a pattern of persecution. In his reign of terror, he claimed to have uncovered many nests of “Devil worshippers” and adopted the motto of:

We would gladly burn a hundred if just one of them was guilty.

1233     Pope Gregory IX proclaimed Conrad of Marburg a champion of Christendom and promoted his findings in the Papal Bull Vox in Rama.

1258     Pope Alexander IV declared that Inquisitors should not concern themselves with divination, but only those which “manifestly savored of heresy.”

1280     First appearance of images of a witch riding a broom.

1320     Pope John XXII authorized the Inquisition to began persecuting sorcery and witchcraft.

1324 – 1325     Lady Alice Kyteler, her son and associates in Kilkenny, Ireland, were tried for witchcraft. For the first time, stories of mating with demons were linked with stories of pacts with Satan. Lady Alice escaped to England, but others were burned.

1398     The theology faculty at the University of Paris declared that all forms of magic or divination involved some sort of pact with the devil and were thus heresy, justifying the persecution of every possible sort of witchcraft.

1428     Witch trials of Brianqon took place in the Dauphine. About 167 local people were burned as witches between 1428 and 1450.

1431     Trial of Joan of Arc took place and included allegations of witchcraft.
1440     Notorious trial of Gilles de Rais, who was accused of witchcraft and debaucheries.

1484     Papal Bull Summis desiderantes was issued by Pope Innocent VIII, authorizing Jakob Sprenger, Dean of Cologne University, and Prior Heinrich Kramer, both Dominican monks, to systematize and categorize the persecution of witches.

1486     Publication of Malleus Maleficarum (Hammer of Witches) by Sprenger and Kramer. Based upon their experiences in Germany, this manual for witch hunters ran to 40 editions. In their opinion, witchcraft was based upon sexual lust:

All witchcraft comes from carnal lust, which was in women insatiable.

In an interesting twist, it was now declared that not believing in witches was heresy:

A belief that there were such things as witches was so essential a part of Catholic faith that obstinately to maintain the opposite opinion savours of heresy.

1488     Papal Bull was issued, calling upon European nations to rescue the church because it was “imperiled by the arts of Satan.”

1490     King Charles VIII issued an edict against fortunetellers, enchanters, necromancers and others engaging in any sort of witchcraft.

1508     Mass witch trials in Biarn occurred.

1529     Inquisitorial witchcraft trials took place at Luxeuil.

1532     Declaration of the Carolina Code in Germany which imposed the penalties of torture and death for witchcraft. This code was technically adopted by the 300-odd small independent states which comprise the Holy Roman Empire.

1542     Henry VIII issued a statute against witchcraft.

1547     Repeal of statute of 1542 during the reign of Edward VI.

1557     Toulouse witch trials took place, during which forty witches were condemned and burned.

1563     Queen Elizabeth issued a statute against witchcraft.

Johan Weyer wrote De Praestigiis Daemonum. This book described his belief that witches were just mentally disturbed old women and that it was the belief in witches which was caused by Satan. He was forced to leave the Netherlands and his book was denounced by Jean Bodin.

1563     Council of Trent resolved to win back Germany from Protestantism to the Catholic Church; intensification of religious struggles and persecutions results.

1566     The first Chelmsford witch trials. This trial was the first to appear in a secular court in England and resulted in the first woman being hanged for witchcraft, Agnes Waterhouse. This trial also produced the first chapbook, or tabloid newspaper, relating to witchcraft.

1579     The Windsor witch trials; also the second Chelmsford trials.

1580     Jean Bodin, a French judge, published Daemonomanie des Sorciers condemning witches. According to Bodin, those denying the existence of witches were actually witches themselves.

1582     St. Osyth Witches of Essex (case tried at Chelmsford).

1584     Publication of Discovery of Witchcraft by the skeptic Reginald Scot who argued that witches might not exist after all.

1589     Third Chelmsford witch trials.

1589     Fourteen convicted witches at Tours appealed to King Henry III, who was in turn accused of protecting witches.

1590     William V began a witch hunt in Bavaria.

The North Berwick witch trials began when an alleged coven of witches was exposed in 1590-91, resulting in Scotland’s most celebrated witch trials and executions. King James VI (who became James I of England), a devout believer in witches, even took part in the proceedings. The torture applied to the victims was among the most brutal in Scotland’s entire history of witchcraft prosecution.

1592     Father Cornelius Loos wrote of those arrested and accused of witchcraft:

Wretched creatures were compelled by the severity of the torture to confess things they have never done… and so by the cruel butchery innocent lives were taken; and, by a new alchemy, gold and silver are coined from human blood.

1593     Warboys witches of Huntingdon were put on trial.

1597     Publication of Demonology by James VI of Scotland (later James I of England).

1597     Case of the Burton Boy (Thomas Darling) in Staffordshire.

1604     James I released his statute against witchcraft, in which he wrote that they were “loathe to confess without torture.”

1604     Case of the Northwich Boy.

1605     Abingdon witches and Anne Gunter.

1612     Lancashire witch trials.

1616     Case of the Leicester Boy (John Smith).
1618     Start of the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) during which the witch hunt throughout Germany was at its height.
1620     Case of the Bilson Boy (William Perry).
1625     Start of general decline of witch trials in France.
1628     Trial of Johannes Junius, mayor of Bamberg, for witchcraft.
1631     Publication of Cautio Criminalis by Friedrich von Spee, opposing the witch hunt.
1632     Death of the Prince-Bishop of Bamberg marked the end of the persecutions in this principality (1609-1632).
1645     Case of the Faversham witches, Kent Witchfinder-general Matthew Hopkins and the Chelmsford (or Manningtree) witch trials.
1646     Death of Matthew Hopkins from tuberculosis.
1647     Publication of Discovery of Witches by Matthew Hopkins.
1649     Case of the St. Albans witches, Hertfordshire.
1652     “Dr. Lamb’s Darling”: the trial of Anne Bodenham and the trial of the Wapping Witch (Joan Peterson) near London.
1655     Last execution for witchcraft in Cologne (where persecution was already less severe).

1662     The Bury St. Edmunds witch trials.
1670     Rouen witch trials.
1674     Trial of Anne Foster in Northampton.

1679 – 1682     The notorious Chanibre d’ardente affair: Louis XIV’s star chamber investigated poison plots and heared evidence of widespread corruption and witchcraft. More than 300 people were arrested and 36 executed. The affair ended with a royal edict which denied the reality of witchcraft and sorcery.

1684     Last execution for witchcraft in England (Alice Molland at Exeter).

1712     Jane Wenham of Walkern in Herefordshire was last person convicted of witchcraft in England.

1722     Last execution for witchcraft in Scotland.

1736     Repeal of Statute of James 1 (1604).

1745     Last execution for witchcraft in France (of Father Louis Debaraz at Lyons).

1775     Last official execution for witchcraft in Germany (of Anna Maria Schwiigel at Kempten in Bavaria).

1787     All witchcraft laws in Austria were repealed.

1928     A family of Hungarian peasants were acquitted of beating an old woman to death whom they thought was a witch. The court used as an excuse the argument that the family acted out of “irresistible compulsion.”

1976     A poor woman in Germany was suspect of keeping dogs as familiars (devil’s agents). Neighbors ostracized her, threw rocks at her, threatened to beat her to death, and finally burned down her house, badly burning her and killing all the animals.

1977     In France, a mob killed an old man suspected of sorcery.

1981     A mob in Mexico stoned to death a woman suspected of witchcraft.


One thought on “Persecution for witchcraft

  1. Your list was interesting but so chilling to think of all those people who were tortured and persecuted. I do believe also that one of the accusations against Anne Boleyn was witchcraft so it was interesting to see her daughter issuing a statute against it. Just frightening the things that can occur in the name of religion.

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