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German Witchcraft and Witches

    The Bamberg trials was one of the most brutal trials in Germany. At least 600 people were burned as witches in the years 1623-33. The persecution of witches first began under Bishop Johann Gottfried von Aschhausen or the Witch-bishop as he was known who was responsible for sending some 300 witches to death in the years 1609-1622. Johann George II took this campaign one step forward when he came into rule, establishing witch-hunts and building special prisons to hold these suspects. Once a person was arrested thay had no chance for escaping the death penalty as they were not allowed to have a proper defence.

    Many prominent people were trialed and hung for witchcraft and their properties were sold to pay for their trials and anything left went to the bishop.

    Interrogations consisted of the boots, cold baths, forced feeding with slted herring, immersion in baths of scalding water laced with lime, laceration of the neck using a rope, the prayer stool, roasting on an iron chair, scorching the skin of the armpits or groin with burning feathers dipped in sulphur, scourging, the stocks, the ladder, strappado and thumbscrews. Conviected witches were also subjected on the way to the gallows by having their right hand cut off, or a women would have her breast torn of with red-hot pncers.

    The trials eventually ceased as the bishop died.

    Cologne witchcraft trials were very few due to the authorities being fairly tolerant most cases ended in not guilty, but may have been later retried under a different court where they were found guilty and burned to death or condemned.

    The Eichstatt witchcraft trial in 1637 was of much notoriety as the records are still in tact of the trial in the courtroom and of what happened in the torture chamber.

    The woman a peasant was pressed repeatedly to admit to attending sabbats, exhuming human bodies and passing through locked doors. Initially she denied everything and declared that the charges were outlandish and that she would prefer death rather than admit to being a witch. When she continued to not admit to being a witch she was taken to the torture chambers. She was tortured for over two weeks and it was only after she was tortured with boots and straps while stretched on a ladder that she started making up a confession to please her interrogators. At times the pain was severe so the records how that she had sworn to God and Christ to save her.

    She confessed to several escapades and when she tried to recant these confessions she was taken and flogged and encouraged to admit more wrongdoings. She continued to claim she was not a witch and everytime she was sent to torture chambers would eventually cave until she named names, which she named many names. At her verdict of guilty the records shows that She dies penitent.

    It is estimated that between 1-2000 accused witches were burned during the period of the witch hysteria.

    In germany they constructed a number of ovens or stakes were set up to put to death those found guilty or accused of witchcraft some as young as two were burned in ovens or placed on stakes. In 1589 in one town alone 133 witches were publicly burned in just one day. Records show that in the period of 1587-1594 that two whole towns were completely wiped out due to the hysteria of witchcraft and also in two othre towns there were only two women left in the town. Many people condmened as witches were under suspicion due to enemies wishing to exact revenge.

    In Warzburg there were hundreds of lives taken due to witchcraft trials due mainly to the jesuits claiming that all those accused of witchcraft and those found guilty she be put to death. Even after the Bishop had died his son was accused and trialed secretly for witchcraft and he was tortured before being put to death.

    Trials after this were few and far between due in main part to the swedish army invasion.


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