Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Le Diable Chez L'eveque: Chasse Aux Sorciers Dans le Diocese De Lausanne (Vers 1460)

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Le Diable Chez L'eveque: Chasse Aux Sorciers Dans le Diocese De Lausanne (Vers 1460)

Article excerpt

Le diable chez l'eveque: Chasse aux sorciers dans le diocese de Lausanne (vers 1460). Edited by Georg Modestin. [Cahiers Lausannois d'Histoire Medievale, 25.] (Lausanne: Universite de Lausanne, Faculte des Lettres, Section d'histoire, 1995.)

The early witch trials in western Switzerland are among the most interesting and important of all witch trials, and thanks to a team of scholars at the University of Lausanne we now have editions, meticulous examinations, and translations into French of the most revealing trial records: those in manuscript Ac 29 in the Archives Cantonales Vaudoises.The present volume, edited by Georg Modestin, contains the records for four individuals, two men and two women, tried between 1458 and 1464. It closes the gap left by previous volumes in the series, which presented materials from as early as 1448 and as late as 1498. Modestin's work follows the same high standards seen already in the previous editions.

Of the cases given in this volume, that of Perrissone Gappit (1464) is especially important because it contains the testimony of three witnesses, thus allowing the voices of the accusers to rise above those of the inquisitors. Perrissone's stepson testified that she was a "heretic" (which is to say, a witch) and that she had been the cause of an illness of his. Then her husband told with bitter tears how she had been the cause of his difficulty in speaking. A neighbor woman said Perrissone had successfully cursed her and members of her family, and after the witness gave birth Perrissone had tried more than once to snatch her newborn baby away from her.

The trial of Guillaume Girod is of interest in part because it shows with clarity how the authorities posed as friends of the accused: the procurator of the bishop of Lausanne spoke to Guillaume in the manner of a counsellor, reminding him how he had gone to him at the castle of Lucens and admonished him charitably to confess his guilt and return to the bosom of the Church-and now, in the castle of Ouchy, the accused had reaffirmed his willingness to make a spontaneous confession, which he then made. …

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