History of witch trials

In 1324, a French bishop, Richard Ledrede, who was working in Ireland, accused Alice Kyteler, of performing witchcraft. Obtaining evidence by having his men whip one of her servants, Petronilla de Meath (who was subsequently burnt at Kilkenny at the instance of Richard, Bishop of Ossory), he claimed that she had met with a group … Read more

Execution of witches

The measures employed against alleged witches were some of the worst ever to be legally sanctioned in the Western world. The sentence generally was death (as Exodus 22:18 states, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live”). There were other sentences, the most common to be chained for years to the oars of a ship, … Read more

The Salem Witch Trial

Salem was divided into a prosperous town second only to Boston and a farming village. The two bickered again and again. The villagers, in turn, were split into factions that fiercely debated whether to seek ecclesiastical and political independence from the town. To understand the events of the Salem witch trials, it is necessary to … Read more

The Affair of the Poisons

The Affair of the Poisons (L’affaire des poisons) was a major murder scandal in France during the reign of King Louis XIV. During it, a number of prominent members of the aristocracy were implicated and sentenced on charges of poisoning and witchcraft. The scandal reached into the inner circle of the king. The furor began … Read more


The possessions at Louviers (Normandy, France) took place at the Louviers Convent in 1647. Sister Madeleine Bavent, who was eighteen years old at the time, was the initial possession victim whose testimony started the investigation. Supposedly, Father Mathurin Picard (nunnery director) and Father Thomas Boulle (vicar at Louviers) had taken the nuns to secret sabbats … Read more


In 1634, a respected priest, Father Urbain Grandier was suddenly accused of the crime of sorcery, evil spells, and the possession visited upon some Ursuline nuns of the town of Loudun in France. Father Grandier was a tall, handsome and seductive man and many nuns were secretly enamored with him. Accusations against Father Grandier began … Read more

Torture of witches

Extracts from THE HAMMER OF WITCHES [Malleus maleficarum], 1486 Even with the papal bull the German inquisitors found their preparation incomplete. Soon after their return from Rome they set about compiling a handbook – an exposition of witchcraft and a code of procedure for detection and punishment of witches. Completed in 1486, it was called … Read more

The trial of the Basque witches

The trial of the Basque witches at Logroño, near Navarre, in northern Spain, which began in January 1609, against the background of similar persecutions conducted in Labourd by Pierre de Lancre, was almost certainly the biggest single event of its kind in history. By the end some 7,000 cases had been examined by by the … Read more