Wednesday, December 01, 2004

The Pious Innocents

Here is the text on witchcraft prosecutions in 17th-century Rhineland, Wehmütige Klage der frommen Unschultigen. The book was by Herman Löher, a jurist from Rheinbach. He was forced to flee the Archbishopric of Cologne after he (and his fellow lay assessors) questioned the trials. The text is long and complex, written in German dialect with Latin terms related to Church canon law, but the text is very interesting, describing the investigations in detail (the marginalized status of the accused, the use of torture, the misgivings of the jurists and how the process got away from them, etc.). Thomas Becker, who transcribed the text, has a detailed essay of the book. (Here is an English summary of the trials.)


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