- freely available
Religions 2019, 10(12), 648; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10120648
1.1. Catholic Clergy as the Devil’s Minions—Thesis
1.2. Setting the Scene—Catholic Clergy and the Crisis of Priestdom
1.3. The Witch-Cleric—Research Concerning the Old Reich and Its Border Lands
2. The Witch-Cleric in Catholic Political Demonology
2.2. The Relevance of the Priest-Witch and the Devil’s (Re-)Baptism
3. The Printed Media—Confessional Debates
3.1. Witch-Priests, Jesuit-Witches, Patroni Sagarum, and the Trier “Superhunt”
“This horrible sorcery and diabolic witchcraft happened some years ago in the electorate of Trier and its surroundings, where a priest had been unmasked who had baptised the children in the devil’s name and who had enacted many unspeakable abominations. These are the strong errors, marvelous fruits and powers of darkness routed in pagan popedom. The bishop of Trier ordered the execution of all inhabitants of a village, men and women, except three innocent women, together with the priest who had baptised more than 100 children in the devil’s name.”43
3.2. Witch-Priests in Swabia, Franconia, and Cologne
- Denunciations against clerics need no further requirement than those against lay people.
- In trials against clerics not more denunciations to apply torture are needed than against lay people.
- In case of crimen excepta, clerics and ordained priests can to be tortured.
- Clerics shall not be tortured to a lesser extent than lay people.
- Clerics who administer pastoral care or who are ordained priests have to be arrested and tortured more rapidly than other people, if sufficient evidence is provided.
- Clerics can be tortured by lay people with the bishop’s consent (Schwillus 1992, p. 88).
3.3. The Testimony of Heinrich of Schultheiß in 1634—Witch-Priests and Jesuits as Patroni Sagarum
4. Friedrich Spee and the Priest-Witch—Final Arguments
5. Conclusions and Prospects
- In Western Europe, only few territories saw clusters of trials against witch-clerics, although many friars, monks, and secular priests had a notorious reputation as necromancer, sorcerer, and magician. Several factors prevented or triggered deadly trials against clergymen, such as legal centralization and scepticism (e.g., under the auspices of the Spanish Inquisition), counter-reformation and Catholic reform (e.g., in the ecclesiastical territories of the Old Reich), or the enthusiasm of witch-hunters (e.g., Sebastian Michaëlis, Pierre de Lancre, or the witch commissioners of Westphalia and Cologne).
- Patterns of accusations shifted during different patterns of trials. The convent cases in France or Italy with one or two charged witch-clerics followed a different pattern in comparison with the witch-hunts in Franconia and its massive assault against canonry. Protestant polemics again smoothed away the differences, propagating that many tried priests and monks had engaged in devil’s baptism, a charge, which cannot be proved with the surviving trial records.
- Popular and learned anticlericalism fueled the discourse about the devil’s clergy, and bolstered accusations against Catholic clergymen (and their housekeepers or concubines).
- The figure of the witch-priest played a vital role in campaigns for Catholic reform and in clerical infighting. Dominican inquisitors in Italy or France proved their outstanding expertise in battling necromancers and witch-priests in competition with Jesuits or other branches of the Mendicant orders, whereas Jesuits with their new post-Tridentine concepts of clerical standards uncovered worldly living urban canons and rural parish priests as the devil’s minions.
- The persecution of the Anabaptist and the demonization of re-baptism strengthened anxieties about the devil’s baptism, performed by witch-clerics, and mixed with fantasies about consecrating children to the devil, done by the mothers (and sometimes fathers), and the devil’s re-baptism at the witches’ sabbath.
- Demonology and the media debated the devil’s clergy during late medieval and early modern times in constant dialogue with actual trials. The persecution of Catholic clergy played at least two significant roles in political demonology and in the media. For Catholics, the figure of the witch-cleric proved that Satan was vigorously assaulting post-Tridentine Catholicism, the only remaining bulwark of Christianity; for Protestants on the other hand, the news about the devil’s clergy proved that Satan reigned in popedom. Secondly and from the start of the 17th century, the prosecution of clerics as the devil’s minions fueled the general debates about the legitimacy of witchcraft trials in the Old Reich. For advocates of witch-hunting, executed witch-clerics proved the omnipresent dangers of witchcraft and the satanic infiltration of Christian society, whereas for sceptics like Friedrich Spee, the same narratives proved the witch-trials to be the work of tyrants, shedding the innocent blood of martyrs.
- The new standards of post-Tridentine Catholic faith, transmitted by the Jesuit role model, brought forward tools of how to unmask the witch-cleric. In the figure of the witch-cleric, counter-reformation, Catholic reform, and witch-hunting amalgamated. In the Old Reich, Jesuits together with ecclesiastical princes and their administration were eager to detect superstitious, lecherous priests, and canons in the name of Catholic reform. It happened to be Jesuits, whose exorcisms, devoted processions, theatre, and mission campaigns, transmitted the idea of diabolic omnipresence to rural parishes as well as to the urban milieu. However, there existed no order-wide strategy to extirpate the priest-witches. Every Jesuit Father had to decide for himself, how much and in which way he engaged in favour of witch-trials.
- Already in the 16th century, demonologists and propagandists attached the label patronus sagarum to Jesuits and Catholic clerics to discredit them as witches themselves. Some of them indeed had been protectors of accused people. Witch-hunters, likewise, used the label as a strategic argument of legitimation. After the turn of the century and with increasing experience as father confessors, more and more Jesuits (although still the minority) developed sceptical views, demanding a care for innocents and to hinder further bloodshed. However, the Jesuit order never propagated a consistent opinion towards the belief in witches, and the procedure in trials. It remained difficult for many fathers as members of the strike force of counter-reformation to accept the view of Spee and others.
- No Jesuit was executed as a witch, as far as we know, but some of them frequently were denounced as witches, and their students had to stand deadly trials. Witchcraft accusations against Jesuits or their presumed executions did not stop further witch trials. Heinrich of Schultheiß circulated this polemical argument to ridicule and defame the Jesuits’ sceptical voices as being the mere result of satanic delusion. Nor did trials against witch-clerics stop the zeal of (ecclesiastical) witch-hunters. Würzburg with its nearly 50 executions seems to be an outstanding exception, as long as we do not take into account that in Eichstätt, Bamberg, and Cologne more trials against the devil’s clergy were in preparation, but stopped because of the steadfastness of one parish priest (Eichstätt), or because of the fact that accusations began to reach very high-ranking clerics. With the suffragan bishops of Cologne (Otto Gereon) and Bamberg (Friedrich Förner) denounced as witches, indeed, a “crisis of confidence” occurred.
- In following Spee’s argument, ecclesiastical princes in the Old Reich had failed entirely to shield the clergy. On the contrary, they had ordered secular inquisitors to inquire explicitly for seemingly suspicious clerics. If the Imperial courts had not blocked the Franconian and Cologne witch-hunts, there is little doubt that more clerics would have fallen prey to them.
- The history of the devil’s clergy mirrors the great diversity of clerical rank, economic resources, and location (rural/urban). For example, anxieties about the devil’s baptism mainly targeted parish priests in rural and urban milieu. Vicars, chantry priests, monks, and canons without any duties in pastoral care, had to have less fear of these accusations, whilst canons and monks fell into suspicion more frequently because of their supposed idleness, and lechery. Rural priests were accused of diabolic superstition and magic. Protestant polemics, however, smoothed away these vital differences and created indeed the stereotype of the Catholic witch-cleric.
- Demonology and the media had marked the witch-cleric as a super-witch, driving a flock, or a convent into the devil’s snare. Social history, however, should put the witch-cleric back into his respective milieu to gain better insight into the dynamics of how and why certain Protestant ministers and Catholic priests, together with their family and kin, were suspected of witchcraft. Many of their partners (be they concubines or wives), kin, and family, be they Catholic or Protestant, had fallen prey to witch-trials. Like other housefathers, clerics headed so-called witches’ families or witches’ households (Voltmer 2016, pp. 218–26; Rowlands 2016; de Blécourt 2007).60 Witchcraft slander suits would be useful for gaining insight into the emergence of accusations against clerics. Likewise, we should not forget about the accused, incarcerated, and executed nuns and women religious. The history of the witch-cleric should focus not only on the executed or punished men but should try to identify those who were denounced but not tried or executed or who were able to take to the road. Any discussion thus about the alleged small number of executed clerics is misleading.
- We should identify the clerical networks, whose members were either promoters of witch-hunting, or victims, or both or who developed scepticism. Cornelius Loos and Friedrich Spee, defamed as patroni sagarum, were only the tip of the iceberg.
Conflicts of Interest
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For reasons of linguistic variations, I use the terms “witch-cleric”, “witch-priest”, “sorcerer-priest”, “priest-magician”, or “wizard-monk” as synonyms without any inherent textual difference. In German, the term “Hexenpfaffe” or “Zauberpfaffe” appears in the source material—I owe my gratitude to the anonymous reviewers for encouragement and comments. Most of all, I like to thank the one reviewer who had lent a helping hand in language editing. My final thanks are going to Marina Montesano for inviting me to write this paper, and to Alison Rowlands for comments and a final language editing.
For example, the total number of clerics, who were accused as necromancers, magicians, and wizards in Italy and Spain, is not known. In both regions, tribunals of the Roman and Spanish Inquisition as well as secular courts prosecuted magic, sorcery, and witchcraft; see (Knutsen 2009, pp. 5–7, and in the present chapter footnotes 17, 20–22).
Johannes Wier reported—together with the story of the witch-cleric from Mirandola—the first cases of demonic possession and witchcraft accusations in female convents. He argued against staged exorcisms, because they triggered the fear of diabolic witchcraft and resulting trials (Voltmer 2016, p. 212). The notorious convent cases of Aix-en-Provence, Lille, Loudon, and Louviers reached wide spreading public attention (Dall’Olio 2006). Additionally, the Lorraine demonical possessed ‘living saint’ Elisabeth Ranfaing caused the execution of the physician Charles Poirot (1622) as a supposed witch. This case was copied in Cologne, where a possessed ‘living saint’, the nun Sophie Agnes von Langenberg, accused Katharina Henot as a witch. A witch-hunt started which cost about 24 lives. The network of the Jesuit order played a vital role in transmitting the idea of staging the making of a ‘living saint’ with the help of exorcism (Voltmer 2018c, pp. 160–61; Levack 2013, pp. 145–55)—The Jura region (including the Franche-Comté) “had no bewitched convents or priest-sorcerers” (Monter 1976, p. 195).
In 2009, I worked out a preliminary survey concerning the figure of the witch-cleric during the European witch-hunts (‘Geistliche im Hexenprozess—Versuch eines Überblicks’, unpublished conference paper). I shared the paper with my friend and colleague Alison Rowlands to use in her study of witch-clerics in a Lutheran context (Rowlands 2019, pp. 15–16, footnote 79)—The present paper is part of a recent book project.
A cluster of factors triggered major witch-hunts, including demands from the populace. Recent witchcraft research denies any monocausal explanation. This paper cannot discuss these factors in detail; see pars pro toto (Voltmer 2017b).
No statistics exist of how many ordained priests, monks, friars, or women religious were executed as heretics during the Middle Ages. The death toll increased during the 15th century, and especially during the Reformation era, including Protestant ministers and preachers. Some sixty-seven Jesuits were executed as martyrs during the religious conflicts of the 16th and 17th centuries in Europe. More Jesuits were killed or martyred in the transatlantic colonies (Rafferty 2017, p. 507).
A close connection between demonology and witch-hunting existed as a multi-levelled flow of ideas and practices. With the help of the media, and between the elite and popular domain ideas of demonology were negotiated, elaborated, and popularized; see the chapters in (Goodare et al. 2020).
The movements of Reformation and Counter-Reformation exerted a significant influence on witch-hunts in Europe; see for example (Kallestrup 2018; Monter 1976, 1990; Voltmer 2015, 2016, 2017a, 2018b, 2020; Waite 2003b, 2007, 2012)—On the scholarly debate and the call for further research see (Waite 2013, pp.485–487, 504).
During the medieval and early modern period, clerics engaged frequently in magical treasure hunting. A notorious trial happened in Lyon (1742–1745), including several priests (Dillinger 2012, pp. 130–34).
In general, accusations “of witchcraft and magic were used against the papal office and against individual popes in order to undermine the reputation of the individual and the respectability of the institution or in the service of political or personal rivalries and ambitions” (Parish 2015, p. 417). For example, and by 1611, the English mathematician and theologian John Napier listed twenty-two popes as necromancers (Parish 2015, p. 416). The Lutheran minister and missionary Hermann Samson, who in Riga battled both Catholics and Calvinists, stated in 1626 that all popes were witches, a fact easily to be proved, because popish lands sheltered more witches than anywhere else. Jesuits however headed his list of witch-clerics, being (allegedly) very prone to witchcraft. In defaming Catholics as witches in general, Samson relied on Luther and Bodin (Schulte 2009, pp. 134–36).
Jesuits were involved in witch-hunting at almost every level of action, be it as demonologists or sceptics, as exorcists, preachers and father confessors, during prison ministry as well as missionary and visitation travels, as experts at the faculties of theology, or as advisers of princes (Voltmer 2006, 2016, 2020; Sobiech 2019).
The so-called convent cases of France, Italy or Spain are well known; see inter alia (Walker and Dickerman 2001; Ferber 2004; Dall’Olio 2006, 2012; Spence 2009; Watt 2007, 2009; Tausiet 2013, p. 195; Maus de Rolley 2016)—Witch-clerics appear marginally in (Dinzelbacher 2006, p. 179; Schulte 2009, pp. 78, 97, 135, 259; or Apps and Gow 2003, pp. 33, 57, 144).
The story of the clerics’ housekeepers and concubines, who were accused as necromancers and witches, likewise, has to be written. It is obvious that anticlerical zeal attacked “priestly immorality through their partners” (Waite 2007, p. 75)—In Modena, several concubines of priests offered their service as necromancers and sorceresses (Duni 2007, p. 71).
Most records of witchcraft trials against Catholic clerics are lost. For example, the notorious witch-hunts in Würzburg, in which more than 50 canons and Alumni were denounced, left over only three records. No trial records from witchcraft trials involving clerics in Westphalia, Trier, or in St Maximin survived. Beyond the trial records of Father Kirsbach, only fragments have survived concerning the Eifel territories.
In the county of Manderscheid-Blankenheim together with the small lordship of Schmidtheim (both in the Eifel region), four parish priests were executed as witches. In the duchy of Westphalia and in the electorate of Cologne, we know about at least four parish priests tried as witches (1591–1630). Many denounced priests from Westphalia and Cologne fled by using clerical networks. Four monks of the Augustinian monastery of Dalheim (in the prince-bishopric Paderborn) were accused of witchcraft in 1600; one died in custody, the others were freed; see (Decker 1978, p. 326; 2003, pp. 165–66; 2000; Schormann 1991, p. 157; Voltmer 2018b, pp. 117–24; Sobiech 2019; Decker, Rainer. 1981/1982. Die Hexenverfolgungen im Herzogtum Westfalen. Westfälische Zeitschrift 131/132: 339–86, pp. 358, 368).
In early modern Papal Rome, the Inquisition fought necromancers and magicians (Decker 2008, pp. 132–44). For example, in 1635 a conspiracy had tried to assassinate Pope Urban VIII by ritual magic. The involved clerics and friars were condemned to execution or to the galleys (Rietbergen 2006, pp. 336–75).
Rivalries between the Mendicant orders surfaced during the campaigns of Dominican inquisitors. Necromancy and invoking demons were part of Renaissance culture in Bologna, joined by priests and friars as well as male and female lay people. Cagnazzo triggered a more severe punishment of these members of the clerical underworld—Tribunals of the Roman Inquisition and the Spanish Inquisition accused many clerics as necromancers and magicians, but condemned only a few to be executed; see for example (Monter 1990, pp. 176–79; Duni 2007, pp. 71–72; Knutsen 2009, pp. 60, 68–69, Herzig 2011, pp. 1052–53; Tausiet 2013, pp. 35–57, 203).
For example, the Inquisition condemned the “fearsome Wizard-Priest: Don Guglielmo Campana” (1517) as heretic to lifelong imprisonment in the city of Modena as prison. However, the Apostolic Penitentiary absolved the priest of all his errors (Duni 2007, pp. 85–94).
In Trier, its hinterland and in the nearby ecclesiastical territory of Saint Maximin, canons, parish priests, and abbots were denounced as witches. We know about the execution of at least three parish priests (1589, 1592). One canon died at the stake (1592), two in custody. The episcopal fiscal was executed or died in custody. Some escaped, many others were suspected, but not accused in a formal trial. Even the provost of the Cathedral chapter was denounced as a witch (Voltmer 2001).
Delrio drew his cases from actual witchcraft trials in using the network of the Jesuits and the republique des lettres. He referred to Dietrich Flade, the former bailiff and judge from Trier (executed 19 September 1589), the so-called werewolf Peter Stump (executed in 1589 near Cologne), and to the Pappenheim family (executed 1600 in Munich). From Binsfeld, Delrio cited more than once the story of Hans Cuno Meisenbein, a prominent boy-witch from Saint Maximin (near Trier), and his mother Anna, a female head of the witches’ sabbath (Voltmer 2016, pp. 219–26).
In the city of Toul, a cleric was tried for witchcraft in 1617. In the French speaking-parts of Lorraine, we know about one parish priest, Dominique Gordet from Vomécourt, being charged with witchcraft (1630). It remains unclear if he was executed. In 1631, the wealthy canon Melchior de la Vallée, with close ties to the ducal house of Lorraine, was burnt as a witch at the stake, condemned during a political trial: The priest-witch was thought not to have baptised the later duke’s wife properly. The duke’s marriage thus was invalid and ready to be annulled (Briggs 2007, pp. 188–89, 364–65; Monter 2007, pp. 113–15).
The prominent “teen wolf” Jean Grenier claimed to be the son of a priest (Voltmer 2015, pp. 162, 167; Machielsen 2019)—In addition to the examples provided by De Lancre and the convent cases, in Normandy (1598–1647) at least six priest-sorcerers were executed, one was given a life sentence in the galleys, and some more were banished from the kingdom of France. In Provence, (1598–1625) two priests were hanged, two others sentenced to the galleys because of sacrilegious magic. In Paris (1604–1609) four Catholic clerics were executed, in Grenoble a Franciscan friar was hanged (1606), and Dijon saw the hanging of two priests (1613, 1625). In Rouen, between 1594 and 1620, over twenty priests had to stand trial because of forbidden magic, and five of them were sentenced to death. During the 1640s, in Brittany two priests were executed under the same accusation (Monter 1997, pp. 582–83; 2002, pp. 42–43).
Whereas the Gaufridy case proved to Catholics the need of post-Tridentine reform, to Protestants it revealed the wickedness of popish clerics who were in the devil’s snare. The Swiss reformed minister Bartholomäus Anhorn († 1700), who believed in the realities of witchcraft and wrote a warning concerning its dangers, was still repeating the Gaufridy-case in his Magiologia (printed 1674) (Brunold-Biger 2003, pp. 42–43, 125, 313). In addition, the story of the French priest-witch was translated into English pamphlets and at least in one ballad (Maus de Rolley 2016).
After the Council of Trent and in battling the heretical sect of Anabaptist, baptism could only be performed once. In obscure cases, a valid baptism was administered under the condition (sub conditione) that the first one had been invalid, for example if a midwife had performed an emergency baptism with unclean water, or if a priest or a minister had not used the proper ritual, or had baptised (allegedly) in the devil’s name—For Lutheran discussions of re-baptism and baptism sub conditione see (Rowlands 2019, pp. 18–9; Hill 2015; Seebaß 1966).
For example, in the city of Trier, the denunciations of two already convicted witch-priests were needed to overpower Dietrich Flade, the prominent and wealthiest member of the urban elite. In the course of the Jean del Vaulx case, a great witch-hunt occurred in the territory of Stablo-Malmedy.
“Rita Voltmer points out that overall explanations have to consider a daunting variety of historical sources, including: manuscripts, printed tracts, decrees and proclamations, trial records, newspapers, pamphlets, learned treatises, fictional literature, poetry, travel accounts, chronicles, plays, songs, encyclopedias, almanacs, planetary books, polemical literature, sermons, and more. Each genre presents its own unique challenges.” (Robisheaux 2018, p. 1).
Rambsauer had fallen prey to a trial because of his concubine, who at first had been accused and because he had tried to defend her.
The “Wickiana” is a 24 volumed collection of broadsheets, pamphlets, prints, handwritten texts, and drawings from the 16th century.
Anonymus author, Wahre abconterfeyung/der schädlichen und erschröcklichen Sect der Jesuiter/mit angehenckter warnung/andie löbliche teutsche Nation/sich vor irer vorborgnen list/und gifft zu hüten, 1595, pp. 25–26; see (Paintner 2011, pp. 362–70).
A register from between 1586 and 1594 lists the names of 1300 women and men from Trier and the territory of St Maximin, who had been denounced as witches; it includes about 40 clerics (friars, monks, canons, and parish priests), mostly from the city of Trier (Muschiol 2004, pp. 84–85; Voltmer and Weisenstein 1996, pp. 313–81).
Martin Delrio published the recantation in his handbook Disquisitiones magicarum and defamed Loos as patronus sagarum. The similarities between Guillaume Adeline and Cornelius Loos are obvious. The fate of both so-called protectors of witches would have fallen into oblivion, had it not been for the fact that their adversaries—Jacquier and Delrio—included the triumph over the fellow-clerics in their respective tracts.
The treatise saw two extended versions in Latin (1591, 1596, followed by reprints); in 1591, Binsfeld published his second treatise on witchcraft, magic, and superstition the Commentarius in titulum codicis lib. 9 de maleficis & mathematicis of the Justinian code, as an appendix to his revised De confessionibus. In reaction to the sceptical arguments of Cornelius Loos, Binsfeld published a considerable expanded version of the Commentarius in 1596, again as an appendix. His plan of publishing it as a third revised book of its own never came to fruition (Voltmer, forthcoming)—On the cover illustration of the Bavarian print, one of the witches, dressed as a wealthy bourgeois woman, is paying homage to the devil, probably disguised as a cleric. The figure is clothed in a long cassock with a white collar, carrying a goblet or chalice in one hand.
The pamphlet’s importance in the context of the Danish witchcraft trials is discussed by (Kallestrup 2018, pp. 140–42).
For example: Fugger trading company (Nurenberg, 1589), Hermann Weinsberg (magistrate in Cologne, 1589), Martin Klöckner (merchant in Paderborn, 1589), Peter Cratepolius (Franciscan friar in Cologne, 1592), Johannes Reckschenkel (Carthusian monk in Cologne, 1598) (Voltmer 2003, pp. 242, 251–57; 2010b, pp. 124–26).
The pamphlets described by Meder, so far, are unknown. Trial records or other source material concerning the presumed monk-wizards in Trier or priest-witches in Cologne, who were accused of devil’s baptism in the 16th century, have not survived. However, Meder’s narratives might not have been mere inventions, since in 1617 the faculty of theology at the university in Mainz delivered a legal opinion on how to deal with two priest-witches, who had baptised in the name of Satan (Pohl 1998, p. 152; Sobiech 2019).
I have slightly abridged the comment of Marcus zum Lamm; see (Harms 1985, p. 316).
Outdated research had taken this verdict for truth, modelling Flade into a critic of witch-hunting. Yet archival evidence shows that he had been no heroic opponent of the witch trials. On the contrary, he had presided over at least eight witch trials (1577–1588), in which he tried to force the accused women to confess (Voltmer 2001, pp. 77–85; 2003, pp. 251–57).
Witchcraft research has missed this very important pamphlet. So far, the original print is lost. We rely on the few sentences to which Janssen referred.
From 1590 to 1631 (with a peak between 1617 and 1631) at least 260 people, mostly women, suffered execution as witches (Durrant 2007, p. 3).
The witchcraft trial against the parish priest Reichard is mentioned only on the margins in (Durrant 2007, pp. 4, 6, 20, 21, 26, 67, 77, 78, 83, 182, 192, 251). Durrant neither discussed the denunciations against clerics nor the Consultum, probably because he was unaware of Schwillus’ research.
(Schwillus 1992, pp. 87–89), links the undated memorandum to Reichard’s trial. I presume that the witch-hunting commission planned an assault against witch-clerics and needed the legal opinion in advance. It failed, however, to prove its usefulness in the Reichard case.
We do not know who denounced Förner as a witch. (Gehm 2000, pp. 169–72), argues that these accusations must have stemmed from high-ranking men rather than from convicted witches. Probably Jesuits from Bamberg, who were already voicing warnings against the cruel persecution and helping suspects to escape, had spread the accusations against Förner. However, evidence is missing about this supposed Jesuit anti-witchcraft conspiracy against the witch-persecution.
See footnote 19.
In the case of a witch-priest, it was entirely uncertain when he had started the devil’s baptising and whether he had done it properly from time to time. Thus, a re-baptising sub conditione was allowed.
Maybe the advice was talking about Peter Cullener or Hilger Trierscheid, two parish priests from the Northern Eifel who were denounced as super-witches. Both had fled to avoid trial and execution. As far as I know, they were never captured.
The witch-hunts did not end in Schmidtheim with the execution of Kirsbach (17 August 1630); during December 1630 and January 1631, another four women were burnt, followed in March and April 1631 by eleven executions (seven women). After one burning in 1633 (a man) and five in 1635 (women), the prosecution came to an end (Voltmer 2018b, pp. 175–61, chart).
See footnote 4.
Alison Rowlands at first (2019) has referred to Schultheiß and his comments about the executed witch-clerics in Würzburg.
“Detailed Instruction, on how to proceed against the dreadful crime of witchcraft … without any danger to those innocent of the crime”.
For Schultheiß and his comments about the major witch-hunts in Westphalia, Würzburg, and Bamberg see in detail (Voltmer 2020).
Research has not noticed this specific part of Spee’s criticism; see for example, (Sievernich 2005).
To give one example: In the village of Fell (St Maximin), the parish priest suffered execution as a presumed witch in 1589. Four members of his former household shared his fate (1591–1595), including his two daughters, his son-in-law, and his female servant (Voltmer and Weisenstein 1996, p. 404).
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