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ticular instances, by which we shall in part corroborate the past, and in part learn more perfectly some important isoÎated facts. For this purpose I shall select those trials which characterise their times and nationality. These are, first, the witch-prosecutions at Arras in France in 1459– thus, previous to the sorcery-bull; secondly, the witch-trial at Mora in Sweden in 1670; and, thirdly, the trial of the nun Maria Renata at Würzburg in 1749. The first gives evidence of the demoniac assemblies of paramour-devils, of both sexes. The proceedings of these assemblies, whither the witches were suddenly transported in the night, exceed everything that ever was conceived by superstition or the grossest sensuality and depraved imagination. If the trial at Arras
surpasses in legal ferocity those which succeeded, that at Mora at least is not behind it in cruelty, and exceeds it in proofs of the universal belief in sorcery, the folly of women in declaring it, and a contagious, and, as it were, general perversion of mind, for even children were summoned on the trial ;-for example, a child of four years old, which declared in the examination that “ he did not yet know the reading by rote which had been given to him.” Many children were affected simultaneously with the women with cramps and faintings, in which they passed to the witchdances, and to the witch-assemblies on the Blocksberg. There arose a universal terror in Sweden, and the king sent a commission to Mora, where the Inquisitors, by means of the rack, soon procured evidence enough; and seventy-two women with fifteen children were condemned to death, and many others to severe punishments. Nearly all condemned victims confessed the most absurd nonsense as to their intercourse with the devil in all sorts of shapes and clothes ; that they had lived and feasted with him; had been married to him; and that he had even allowed a priest to baptise him.
The trial of the Maid of Orleans at Rouen in 1434 deserves a brief notice. That quiet, pious herd-maiden, who helped and
gave to all; the heroic maid, who freed France from decline and subjection; the prophetic seeress, who, in intercourse with the saints, performed unheard-of deeds of martial leadership, and at the same time spared the enemy, fell before injustice and superstition,
-- yielded up her beautiful
life amid the flames. When thirteen years
of age, she heard in her father's garden a voice, and a form stood in splendour before her eyes. St. Catherine and St. Margaret appeared to her, and exhorted her to fulfil the coinmands of the Almighty ; to proceed to the interior of France and raise the siege of Orleans, in order to recover the kingdom for her king Charles VII. ; which, in spite of stupendous difficulties and obstructions, she actually accomplished. Finally, taken prisoner by her enemies, the English, she was tried on the plea that she could only have performed such wonderful deeds through witchcraft; the accusation was admitted by her own countrymen, and the Inquisition brought her before its tribunal; and spite of the want of a single trace of guilt, she was condemned in the most arbitrary manner.
Schiller, in his drama, “ The Maid of Orleans," less historically true than poetically great in its execution, has, through the introduction of the Black Knight, produced in that composition a perfect piece of art. This Black Knight is purposely, not accidentally, chosen. He faithfully characterises the inner darkness of that time by the outward appearance of the evil one exercising lordship on the earth, entangling in subtle snares the senses and the heart of man. How striking are these passages in the ninth scene of the third act:MAID OF ORLEANS.
Detested art thou to my inmost soul,
Open thy visor!
Is the prophetic spirit silent in thee ?
No! still it speaketh in my deepest breast
The BLACK KNIGHT replies :
It was a juggling form,
Schiller represents Joan as one inspired by God; as a being who performs heroic deeds, but who in her innocence is equally capable of keeping silence, and of bearing her fate till her time is come:
“ Who dare cry halt! to me ?
Who can command the spirit that doth lead me ?
gave myself in silence to my mission.” That Schiller had in view to work out in this tragedy the idea of the inward, creative, and divine spirit, in opposition to the phrenzy and misconceptions of man, is sufficiently obvious in this poem of the “ Maid of Orleans” :
“ To shame in thee the noble human form,
Did mockery cast thee down into the dust.
Hauber first transferred the Witch-trial of Arras into German; and since then, Horst has introduced it in his Dämonomagie, from Enguerrand de Monstrelet's Chronicle.
“In the year 1459 a terrible circumstance took place in the city of Arras, or in the country of Artois, which the people called Vaudoirée : why, I know not. It was said, however, that certain people, men and women, were carried away by night by help of the devil from the place where they were, and came suddenly to a certain remote place in a desert, where a great multitude of men and women found themselves. There they met a devil in the shape of a man, whose face they never were able to see ; and this devil read or delivered to them his commands and regulations, as to how they should worship and serve him as their lord. Hereupon he allowed each of them to kiss him, after which he gave every one some money. Finally, he divided wine and viands amongst them, and they made merry. Then followed scenes that are better left unrevealed, and afterwards, by aid of the devil, they all found themselves at the places whence they
“ On account of these follies, numbers of people of condition in the city of Arras, as also other people of less consideration, were arrested and imprisoned, and then so tortured and horribly racked, that some of them confessed that they had conducted themselves in the manner above described. And besides this, it being suggested to them, and put into their mouths by the Inquisitors, they confessed, under the agonies of the rack, that they had seen people of rank, prelates and magistrates occupying posts and offices in the city, at these witch-assemblies. Some of these were immediately arrested, and so terribly racked that they also actually confessed that that was true which had been reported of them. The former people were most barbarously executed, and the greater part of them burnt.
Others who were richer and more powerful purchased their security by money, There were some also who were assured that they should neither suffer in their persons nor their property if they would only confess. Others endured the agonies of the torture with wonderful patience, but would confess nothing to the injury of others. Greater numbers, however, gave large sums to the judges, and to all those who could free them from the torture; others fled the country, and made their innocence 80 apparent that they were left in peace. “And here it is not to be omitted that
honourable people stated confidently that these accusations were many of them made by malicious individuals to injure people of condition to whom they owed a grudge, or from a disposition prone to envy
and evil. Besides this, the judges were in the habit of taking low people, and giving them a touch of
the rack, so that they were ready to accuse people of wealth, from whom the judges could extort money.
“ There is also another relation of this barbarous witchprosecution, which is not wholly so liberal and honourable as the other, but is, at the same time, the more interesting, because it shews the overbearing conduct of the judges, the monstrous violation of principles of justice and law, and the bribing and rescuing with gold, etc.” Jacob Meyer relates the affair in his “ Annal. Flandriæ, lib. xvi. sub Phillippo Burgundione ad ann. 1459."
“In the year 1459 we read that at Arras something very fearful took place. That very many people were inhumanly burnt with fire, for having had nocturnal meetings with the devil, who had given them much gold. Very many gentlemen and ladies of condition were arrested on the evidence of those who were burnt, and most barbarously tortured. Others purchased their escape with gold; some fled from the country, but others suffered the torture steadfastly, and would confess nothing. It is related that some of the judges were so abominably base that they accused numbers of persons to whom they were inimical, in order that they might have the pleasure of torturing them. Others assert that there really were such nocturnal assemblies of men and women, where they worshipped the devil in the shape of a he-goat or a tom-cat, never being allowed to see his face; yet have sworn to obey his commands. That they then made a banquet, and concluded with lewd practices."
Horst adds to this, that in these witch-prosecutions one Peter Brüssard was made beadle. They accused these witches at the same time of being Waldenses and Manichæans. Limborch
many persons who had been compelled to criminate themselves under torture, as soon as they were condemned to the fire protested against the whole proceeding, and cried out with all their might publicly that they were innocent and should die unjustly! That they never were at the devil's sabbaths in Waldesia, but that they had been inhumanly betrayed by the judges, who had promised them, with many flatteries, that if they confessed what they were accused of, they should be at once released from the rack, and set free.”