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had dissuaded her from doing it because there were
some more people in the to\\m whom he wanted to turn
into witches and receive homage from/ During the
torture she became * paler and more exhausted/ and
after it was ended she sank lifeless on the ground. ' The
devil/ so ran the judicial report, ' would not let her dis-
close anything more and so wrung her neck/ Her corpse
was burnt/

Count John VI. of Nassau intervened with pre-
ventive measures against these atrocities. On July 28,
1582, he gave orders to the justices not to proceed ille-
gally against people accused of witchcraft nor to act on
mere information given, nor were they to arrest anyone,
still less condemn them to fire, without having first made
sure about the case. If people were accused as witches
or sorceresses, the justices must first inform themselves
privately from the local magistrates, from four sworn
witnesses and other unprejudiced people, as to how the
accused had come under suspicion, what ' well-founded '
evidence there was of their guilt, and especially what
had been their manner of life from their youth upwards. ^

' Erschrockliche wahrhaffiige Zeitung, wie eine Unholdin und Zduherin,
Klara Geisslerin aus Gelnhausen, nach eigenem unzweifelichem Bekanntnuss
bet die 240 Perscmen gemordet, d;c., endlich am 23 August 1597 vom
Teufel erwiirgt warden (a terrible and truthful account of how a witch
and sorceress, Clara Geisslerin of Gelnhausen, on her own indubitable
confession, murdered 240 people, &c., and finally on August 23, 1597, was
strangled by the devil).

- The ordinance in L. Gotze, Annalen des Vereins fur nassauische
Altertumskunde, xiii. 327-329.


All the same during the reign of this count, down to
IGOO, sixteen women and four men were put to death on
the charge of witchcraft.' A trial which went on during
the years 1592-159-1 is remarkable on account of the
heroism of a woman who, in spite of the most cruel tor-
tures on the rack, could not be brought to make any
confession. This trial was instituted in consequence
of petitions from the two parishes of Ruppenrodt and
t^sselbach, urgently entreating the count's chancery in
Dillenburg to rid them as soon as possible of their
' female sorceresses, whose scandalous and diabolical
deeds were now everywhere notorious." On the most
paltry accusations proceedings were instituted. Things
looked especially bad for one of the accused, Entgen
Hentchen, because her mother and her two sisters had
already been burnt as witches at Montabaur. The
mother, because she would not confess, was tortured by
various executioners and subjected to trial by water. A
son of one of Entgen's sisters, whose wife had had a
quarrel with her about a cow, stated, under oath, that,
* as he was watching the cows in the forest about four
years ago, he had seen Entgen from a high mountain
running along among the trees. Then an animal, in the
shape of a hare but bigger than a calf and with thick
feet, had run through the wood, and approached Entgen.
He had set his dog, which was very fierce, at the
animal ; the dog, however, contrary to its nature, had
run away and crouched at his feet. After seeing this he
said to his relative, " This is a bad business ; I now know
that you are no better than people think of you and your
sisters."' ' The torturing of Entgen began, according to
usual custom, with the thumbscrew ; then her shinbones

' Annalen des Vereins fur nassauische AltertumsJcunde, xix. 106.


were belaboured with tongs, after which her arms were
\^Tenchecl out of their sockets ; but still she would not
confess. In the minutes it says : ' Entgen Hentchen,
put on the rack July 29, 1594, confessed nothing, did not
make the sHghtest disclosure although she was treated
pretty badly. On July 1, when questioned again on the
rack, said she had never acknowledged Satan. Tongs
and screw appUed at the same time, but nothing ex-
torted ; she is insensible to pain, nothing is to be got
out of her ; she was the same at last as at first ; ' and so
it went on time after time, through worse and worse
martyrdom, till at last the court was obhged to dismiss
her. On her husband's going bail for her she was let
out of prison, but she was obliged to take her oath that
she would not revenge herself for the treatment she had
undergone, would do no injury to her neighbours at
Usselbach and Ruppenrodt, and that ' if required to do
so at any time she would surrender herself to her gracious
lord.' ' She and her husband spent all their substance
defraying the costs.'

In Hesse, where formerly, on the part both of the
secular and ecclesiastical courts, the procedure against
witches had been moderate throughout, and where very
few executions had taken place,- wholesale persecution
began in the last decades of the sixteenth century.

* The devil is indeed let loose,' wrote Landgrave
George, of Hesse-Darmstadt, in 1582, to Otto von
Tettenborn, his delegate at the Augsburg Diet, ' and is
raging just as much in other places as round about here ;
we cannot adequately describe to you the horrors

' From the minutes of the trial in the archives of the Germanic
museum at Nuremberg, printed in the supplement to the Augshurger Allgem.
Zeilung, 1881, No. 344 fl.

2 Soldan-Heppe, i. 480-486.


that are going on here by the witches and sorceresses,
and the amount of work this entails upon us. We had
pretty nearly got rid of and put to death all the old ones
and now the young ones have cropped up, and one hears
no less dreadful things of them than of the old ones/ ^
The Landgrave in a criminal ordinance enjoined that,
' Whereas the abominable crime of sorcery is, through
Clod's righteous anger, now rampant almost everywhere
among women, the officials must with all dihgence
institute inquiries directly any person is accused of this
crime and a hue and cry is raised, and to bring into safe
custody such as enjoy a bad repute in public estimation/
In the year 1585 thirty people were brought up for
examination in Darmstadt on the charge of witchcraft,
seventeen were put to death, seven were banished from
the land, and one of them committed suicide.^ A
witch burnt at Marburg in 1582 said on the rack that
' the devil made her invisible, so that she could go into
stalls and stables and blow poison at the animals ;
a few years before she had pledged herself to the
devil with her blood, which he had scratched out of her
forehead with one of his claws ; her mother, who was
a queen among the witches, had been present.' ^ In
1583 a woman and her two daughters were condemned
to death at the same time."* In Lower Hesse witch-
trials did not become frequent till the beginning of the
seventeenth century. ^

* V. Bezold, Brief e Johann Kasimirs, i. 501 .

" Soldan-Heppe, i. 487-488. ** According to the WarTiaffte und

glaubwurdige Zeyttung von 134 Unholden (Strasburg, 1583) the Landgrave
William had ten women burnt in Darmstadt on Aug. 24, 1582, ' and amongst
them was a boy of seventeen and a girl of fourteen.'

•' Theatr. de veneficis, 211-212. '' Kirchhof, Wendunmuth, ii. 550.

' Soldan-Heppe, i. 488.


But in Hesse as elsewhere ' there were many who said
and beheved that among Christians there were no
sorcerers and wicked people who associated thus with
the devil.' For this reason, seeing that persecution of
witches had practically not yet begun there, Abraham
Sawr of Frankenberg, advocate and procurator of the
court tribunal at Marburg, wrote in 1582 a ' Kurze,
treue Warnung, Anzeige und Unterricht liber Hexen,
Zauberer mid Unholden/ ' Experience shows,' he wrote,
' that this sin is gaining ground among us day by day.
People so wicked as this deserve to be burnt with fire
like heretics, whom with our own eyes we see pmiished
in plenty.' In the actuality of witch-flights, trans-
formations of human beings into animals, carnal
mixing with the devil and so forth, Sawr did not believe ;
all this was mere 'jugglery and hallucination.' 'All
the same, however, punishment should ensue, because
witches and sorcerers, after their scandalous and
presumptuous denial of God and their voluntary sur-
render to the devil, declared in their confessions and
depositions that all these things veritably happened.'
The extorted confession of that Marburg witch of 1582,
who said ' the devil made her invisible,' Sawr explains
as follows : ' Whatever is natural is possible to the
devil. You may well believe that in the night, when
only few people were about, the devil could hide her and
make her invisible.' ^ Paul Frisius, ' student of Holy
Scripture,' dedicated to the Landgrave George of Hesse-
Darmstadt, in 1583, a tract, ' Von des Teufels Nebel-
kappen, ein kurzer Begriff den ganzen Handel von der
Zauberei belangend,' and expressed his pleasure at the
fact that the Landgrave punished witches as they

' Theatr. dc veneficis, 204-214.


deservod ; by his tract lie lioped, he said, ' to stimulate
others to show tlic same Christian zeal and to follow
George's example/ ^

As in other territories, so also in the Waldeck district,
a provincial ordinance was issued in 1583 to the effect
that, ' whenever suspicion has been aroused against any
person on account of sorcery, such person shall be taken
into custody, due allowance to be, however, made for
perjured evidence/ -

In Osnabriick in 1583, under the direction of the
burgomaster Hammacher, who had studied at Erfurt
and Wittenberg, witch-burning went on to such an
extent that in the short space of three months 121
people in the town had perished at the stake. In
neighbouring districts also in the same year the sacri-
ficial fires blazed ; in Iburg twenty people were burnt
to death, in Yerden fourteen/^ ' Anno 1589,' says the
chronicle of Joachim Strunk, ' at Osnabriick in West-
phaHa 133 sorcerers were burnt, and it happened in this
wise : On the Blockensberg about 8000 sorcerers
from many lands, rich and poor, young and old, had
assembled. Now when they withdrew from the Blockens-
berg they all repaired to different cellars (fourteen in all)
at Nordheim, Osterode, Hanover and Osnabriick, and
drank up about five fuders of wine. Two of them at

* Theatr. de veneficis, 214-228. Concerning the ' weather-making '
of the witches, Hartmann Braun, pastor at Griinberg, preached as follows,
in 1603, appealing to John Brenz and others : ' As soon as the devil, who
has supreme power in the air, notices that a storm is brewing, he gives orders
to the witches to fetch out their cauldrons and to begin boiling and stew-
ing ; the witches then think they have made the storm themselves.' Drei
Chrisiliche Donnerpredigten, 117-126. Cf. above the statements of
Mohtoris, Weyer, Witekind, and so forth, pp. 254-256, 312-316, 326 f.

' Curtze, 538.

^ Mitteilungen des Histor. Vereins zu Osnabriick, x. 98-101.


Osnabriick, who liad drunk themselves full and fallen
asleep, were found by the servant of the house still
asleep the next morning. The servant at once told his
master about them, and the latter hurried off to the
burgomaster, who put them in prison and had them
examined on the rack. They at once denounced ninety-
two others in the town and seventy-three in the country,
all of whom confessed that with their arts of poisoning
and sorcery they had killed about 350 people, had lamed
sixty-four, and brought many to ruin through the love
of sensuahty. Whereupon 133 were straightway burnt
in the town, but four, the most beautiful of them,
w^ere carried off alive into the air by the devil, before
they were taken to the fire/ i

At a great witch-trial in Verden in 1617 it was
officially attested in the notary's minutes that according
to the report of * three chirurgeons ' no fewer than four
accused people, who died in prison, must have been put
to death by the devil incarnate. ^

A man * especially renowned both for his high culture
and for his zeal in having witches burned ' was Duke
Henry Julius (1589-1613) of Brunswick- Wolfenbuttel.
The Leipzig bookseller Henning Gross praised him
in this double character as ' a light of the age,' and
dedicated to him in 1597 a great work on ghosts, spirit-
uahstic apparitions, and all sorts of diabolical sorceries
which he described as ' very profitable for theologians,
indispensable to jurists, and altogether useful for the
whole of Christendom.' '^

' Neues vaterdndisches Archiv, Jahrg. 1826, Bd. ii. 226-227.

■Ibid., Jahrg. 1824, Bd. ii. 299-300, 303-305; p. 291, wlicro
there is mention of witch-trials in the Ohsen district (1583), and in
the town of Buxtehude.

■' Grosius, Magica, Preface.

K K 2


The Duke as a diainalic ])oct ' iisod tlic stage also
in Older to iin])ivss on the great lords who attended the
porforniances the justice of his proceedings against
witches. * God has commanded/ he makes Susannah's
father llelkia say in liis ' Tragi-comedy of Susannah/
* that no witch shall be suffered to live, but shall be
burnt by fire ; for sorcerers and sorceresses apostatise
from God, deny God, join themselves to the devil,
and with him help work injury to other people ' ) 'all
necromancers, who make themselves invisible, practise
sorcery ' ; the custom in vogue with the CathoHcs of
blessing and crossing themselves, the Duke reckoned
among the things no less forbidden by God than sorcery
and witchcraft.- In 1593 he admonished the preachers
not to connive at idolatry and sorcery, nor think that
these crimes were only to be punished by church pen-
ances. * Henry JuHus,' said the preacher Steinmetz
in a funeral sermon on the Duke, ' punished witches
and sorcerers severely, in accordance with the Word of
God.' At Wolfenbiittel it often happened that ten to
twelve witches were burnt on one day ; the place of
execution in the Lechelnholz, as a chronicle reports,
was just like a small forest from the quantity of stakes
erected there. Among those condemned to death by
the Duke in 1591 there was an old woman of 106, who
was first dragged along and then burnt. ^

As regards the different kinds of torture inflicted,

^ See the present work, vol. xii. 134 flf., 172 £F.

- Schauspiele ties Herzogs Heinrich Julius, 24-26.

^ Schlegel, ii. 367. Rhamm, 75-76. ' Beitrage zur Geschichte der
Stadt Braunschweig,' in the Neues vaterldndisclies Archiv, Jahrg. 1826,
Bd. ii. 230-231. Concerning the terrible trial of the lawyer Henning
Brabant, town prefect of Brunswick, see the present work, vol. xii. p. 380,
and above, p. 212.


Duke Julius had recently, in an ordinance of February
3, 1570, fixed the order of the successive grades. The
first grade included the stool, binding the hands firmly
behind the back, thumbscrews and scourging. The
second grade added tight cording which cut into the
body and also the screwing on of stocks. At the third
grade the victim's limbs were dislocated on the rack or,
at the discretion of the Ducal Chancery, according to
the gravity of the crime, recourse was had to * other
suitable means ' which intensified the degree of torture.
In a trial at Arnum, a woman who under torture ' fell
asleep at the devil's instigation,' i.e. collapsed in uncon-
sciousness, ' was tortured with the leg screws, and at the
same time wound up, sprinkled with burning brimstone
and scourged with rods. ' ^ The Llineberg lawyer Hartwig
von Dassel, a kindred spirit of Duke Henry Julius,
recommended in 1597 the most severe procedure against
witches. In sorcery, he said, there lay a secret crime ;
the witches surrendered themselves to the devil in secret,
assembled at night for their pranks and, ' as was known,'
practised their arts for the most part in secret also. In
the case of secret crimes exceptional procedure was
permissible : the rules of ordinary trials did not hold
good here ; the infamy of the crime justified free hand-
ling of judicial measures. As Baldus, * the most re-
nowned representative of Roman law,' had already
taught, as Bodin also taught, in sorcery, supposition
and surmise were sufficient proof, so too von Dassel

' Rhamm, 22-24. Concerning instruments of torture used at witch-
trials, cf. Archiv des Hennehergischen Alierlumsvereins, v. 74 ff., 168.
Mitte.ilungen des konigl. sdchsischen Vereins, iii. 94. ** Concerning the
bestial carousing of the members of the criminal court who were present
in the torture chambers, under Duke Julius of Brunswick, see the report
in Schcible, Schalljahr, i. 360-301.


said : ' Conjecture and verisimilitude have the force of
full proof in such cases.' ^ In such crimes it is lawful
to go on mere ' presumptive evidence/ even to the pro-
nouncement of sentence of death. As a lover of justice
and right he recommended the most revolting and
terrible means for extorting confessions and went into
the most terrible details of torture.-

To such an extent was Duke Henry JuHus dreaded as
a witch-persecutor that at Wernigerode, where also rack
and fire often warred fiercely against witches, the threat
was frequently held up to the accused that if they would
not confess they would be sent to Wolfenbiittel — ' and
then they would have to speak out.' A man accused of
sorcery at Wernigerode said when he was taken prisoner
' he would not like to be sent to Wolfenbiittel, because
the Duke was very hard on numbers of poor people. ' ^

Among the pastors in that region there were witch-
persecutors hke the preacher Sindram in Herzberg,'* but
also merciful ones like Simon Kriiger in Hitzacker.
When ten witches were burnt at this last place in 1610,
Kriiger wrote that ' this affair had not only caused him
a great deal of work and trouble, but also thousands
of heart-aches and tears.' ' It was declared that very
many of these people had died innocent, and that the
executioner had acted deceitfully in the trial by water,
in order that he might earn more money.' ^

' ' Coniecturae, verisimilitudines in tali casu vim plenae probationis
obtinent.' Cf. Rhamm, 20.

- Trummer, 119-122. Soldan-Heppe, i. 358-359.

•' Fuller details concerning witch-trials in the Harz, from the
Wernigerode minutes after 1582, are given by Jacobs in the Zeitschr. des
Uarzvereins, iii. 802 ff., and iv. 291 ff.

■* Zeitschr. des Harzvereins, iii. 798.

'" Neves vaterldndisches Archiv, Jahrg. 1822, Bd. ii. 66-67.


To the very small number of rulers, who in their
decisions as to persecution, hfe and death maintained a
calm and dehberate attitude, belonged Count Heinrich
zu Stolberg, who on this account incurred from his fellow-
noblemen the reproach of being ' unwilHng to exercise
justice in matters of witchcraft/ i

' Where the rulers are dilatory,' it says in a ' Kurtze
Traktatlein Uber Zauberei,' which appeared after 1573,
' the people must egg them on and clamour for coals and
fires, because the number of witches, as is sufficiently
shown by the trials, grows larger and larger from year
to year. ' ^

Thus, for instance, at a trial at t)lzen in 1611, *it
was learnt ' under continuous excruciating torture, from
the hps of an accused that ' at the last Walpurgis night
she and two other women had ridden off from the roof
of the house on a black horse. On the Blocksberg such
a numerous company had been assembled that out of
a bushel of herbs which were distributed they only
received one herb apiece.'^ On the Hirschelberg near
Eisenach, according to a * neue Zeitung,' in 1613, 8000
people gathered together, and amongst them 1000 men.*
And ' how unspeakably horrible were all the arts of many
thousands and tens of thousands which threw the whole
nation into terrors and consternation ! ' ' One could
scarcely have believed it,' said the above-mentioned
* Kurtze Traktatlein iiber Zauberei,' * if one had not
learnt from personal experience all that witches and
sorcerers are able to do ; how they can kill and eat

' Zeilschr. des Harzvereins, iii. 809-813. - See below, p. 505.

•' Zeitschr. des Harzvereins, xi. 467.

^ ' Zeitung von dcr greulichen Zaubcrci in Deutscher Nation.' Erfurt,
at Jakob Singe's, 1613.


up luiiKlreds of little children, cause gruesome pesti-
lences, poison people by eggs wliicli tliey lay themselves
and bring into the market, change themselves into
spiders and toads, — as numbers of them who have been
burnt to death themselves confessed — whistle for the
devil and he is at once on the spot to do their behest/
For instance, an Erfurt witch * to please her daughter,
often (especially in September and October) had a
soldier fetched away on a goat from the camp before
Konigsberg and brought through the air to Erfurt, and
then in a few hours taken back to the camp/ ^ When the
Halberstadt official, Peregrinus Hiihnerkopf, one of the
most pitiless of torturers, who at Westerburg in 1597
could always manage to make one trial bring forth
another, had succeeded by means of persistent torture
and the influence of a witch-drink, an ' arcanum of the
executioner,' in bringing one of the witches to confess
that * she had bewitched a troop of devils into her
husband's beard, and that they would have to be driven
out by other witches,' the bench of magistrates at
Magdeburg declared the woman guilty and sentenced
her to death by fire.-

In the imperial town of Nordhausen in 1573 two
women were burnt to ashes for having boasted that
they were able in the devil's name to bewitch people
with vexing spirits and then to drive them out in the
name of God.^

The manner in which every untoward event was

^ Falk, Elbingisch-preussische Chronik, edited by Toeppen (Leipzig, 1879),
p. 172.

- Neue Mitteilungen aus dem Gebiet historisch-antiquarischer For-
schungen, vi. Heft iv. 67-70. Zeitschr. des Harzvereins, iii. 801, 891-893.

^ Forstemann, Kleine Schriften zur Gesch. der Stadt Nordhausen, 102 ff.
Concerning -niteh-buming at Nordhausen in 1602, cf. ZeitscJir. des
Harzvereins, iii. 824.


turned by the judges into an * evil indicium ' betraying
sorcerers and devil's sweethearts was seen in 1605 in the
town of Hanover, where the two preachers ' for the
glory of God, in defiance of the devil, and for the welfare
of the town ' denoimced two witches to the judges. As
a ground of suspicion it was alleged against one of them
that the preacher had fallen down in the street, and that
when he got up again the witch was seen behind him.
This suspicion was enough to determine the faculty of
law at Helmstadt to give it as its opinion that ' the
person in question must be brought before a criminal
court and, having duly confessed, be burnt to
death.' i

' One must take notice of everything where witches
are concerned,' said the 'Kurtze Traktatlein iiber
Zauberei,' with a view to the ' wholesome fear of all
evangeHcal Christians, because one can often detect
them by their countenance, their gestiu'es, their words,
as is sufficiently sho\vn by the experience of trials at
Halberstadt, QuedHnburg, Rotenkirchen, Elbingerode,
Nordhausen and elsewhere in 1573 and the following
years. At first they will not confess much, but if the
executioners go on persistently interrogating them, all
their devihsh arts come out at last.' ~

Everywhere the funeral piles blazed on high.

At Gottingen since 1561 the magistrate had been
almost incessantly occupied with witch-trials : ' the
sorceresses, as usual, informed against each other, and
the inquisitors proceeded so sharply that scarcely any
woman was safe from the rack and the stake.' ^

' Schlegel, ii. 368-370. ** Cf. Hartmann, Gesch. der Stadt Hannover,
197 ff., where about a dozen trials in Hanover arc described.
- The Traktatlein was accordingly published after 1573.
•' Zeitschr. des Harzvereins, iii. 798.


At Quodlinburg, where the executions began m 1569,
there were about sixty-six witches burnt in 1570 and
about forty in 1574. At Osnabriick in 1589, 133 witches
were burnt.^ At Rostock, in 1584, sixteen witches were
condemned to death by fire,- and at Hamburg eighteen
in the years 1576-1583. '^ In 1618 a Berhn gazette
reported that at Hamburg fourteen wicked women and
one man liad suffered death by the sword and fifty other
people were in prison on account of witchcraft.*' While
there also the activity of the judges schooled in the

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