We still remember, with some horror, the witch hunt that took place from the 15th to the 18th century. It was hundreds of years when thousands of women were persecuted and killed. Famous cases happened in North America, like the Salem Witches . Europe was the cradle of this plot that still intrigues and impacts today. Witch hunters had various motivations such as exaggerated superstition, paranoia, irrational zeal for the current religious tradition and exacerbated religious fanaticism. But in the end, the biggest motivation was political.
In a quick search on the internet, you will find that thousands of people were executed in Europe for the practice of witchcraft. Women were often burned alive. A moment like this, complex and shocking, raises many stories and legends around you. There are many historical accounts of bizarre things that happened at the witch trial. For this reason, we have separated for you 7 unbelievable stories about witch hunts in Europe.
1 – The Werewolf
In the 17th century, in Latvia, an elderly man named Thiess appeared before a judge to make a confession, to say the least, intriguing. He stated before a court that he was part of a group of soldiers of God made up of werewolves. Yes, Thiess claimed to be a werewolf . He also said that the function of his race was to fight the devil and his servants. The old man also added that his mortal enemy was a dead old witch, with whom he fought in one of his decisions to hell in the name of God to fight against evil.
After shouting that the werewolves were servants of the church and that they were closer to God than the priests, he was sentenced to 10 lashes. His testimony gained special attention in studies of the 20th century, due to the similarity with the Benandanti group (next topic), from Southern Europe.
2 – The Benandanti
The Inquisition discovered the Benandanti in the 16th century, a cult widely spread in Italy at that time. According to their testimonies, they went into a trance (they slept), and their souls came out of their bodies to fight against evil witches, in an attempt to ensure that the crops of the next season were good and fruitful. One hiker described the journey in a testimony: “I had the impression that there were many of us together, as if we were in a fog, but we didn’t know each other, and it seemed as if we were moving through the air like smoke and crossing the water like smoke”.
3 – The Ladies of Out
In the 16th century, Sicilian witches were the ones who most confused the Inquisition . This was because they did not fit the traditional model, which worshiped the devil. They claimed to be in contact with the Senhora de Fora, a race of beautiful women with varied animal paws instead of feet. These ladies were not evil or devil worshipers, however, they did not like mention of God or the Virgin Mary. The Ladies of Outside were governed by the Eastern Queen, and most of the time that Sicilian witches came into contact with the Ladies of Outside, things ended in sex.
4 – The Tempestarii
In medieval folklore, tempestarii were French magicians who lived in disguise among people and had the ability to create storms. According to testimonies, they extorted local farm owners to pay their debts to the Magonia (sky sailors). Tempestarii are mentioned in several sources, one more stands out: a controversy by Bishop Agobard de Lyon. He was angry that people paid for tempestarii and then claimed poverty when it was time to tithe the Church.
5 – The Kresniks
The kresniks were basically spiritual warriors, vampire and witch hunter shamans , whose spirits roamed the body in the form of animals. According to testimonies and medieval folklore, they came together to make war whenever the kingdom was threatened. In some areas, each kresnik was believed to have an evil counterpart, similar to a werewolf, called kudlak. A kresnik and a kudlak were born in opposite clans and their spirits often battled in animal form to determine the family’s fate. Those suspected of being kudlaks were sometimes buried with their tendons cut, so that they could not walk again on Earth.
6 – The fairies
Fairies have a strong presence in medieval folklore. A group of women in Croatia, the Vilenicas, claimed to have the ability to talk to fairies. However, there was the testimony of one of them, a young woman in her twenties, who claimed to communicate with a differentiated fairy: Tia Fada. She would be an entity that fought evil witches and gave advice on cures and roots. This young woman, who testified at trial, was declared a witch. Even after that, several other women continued to be part of this group.
7 – The other werewolf
In the late 16th century, a werewolf swept the city of St. Claude in the Franche-Comte, eastern France. Not only that, but many other werewolf cases were brought to court at the time. Pierre Gandillon, described his own transformation into a werewolf. According to his account, he entered a cataleptic state, lying completely rigid and immobile in bed. Then the devil dressed his soul in a wolf’s skin and he traveled to a day when it would be bad.
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