Last State Persecuted Witch in Europe October 2, 2013Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback
We are in 1862 and a letter arrives in the UK from Hungary and Reka.
A few days since a farmer, residing in the commune of Bazas, denounced his daughter-in-law as a witch, and said it was she who had for a long time prevented rain from falling. He moreover affirmed that for several months she had neither eaten, drunk, nor slept, and that whenever a cloud appeared in the sky she went out into the court-yard and made a gesture with her hand by which she drew the moisture to herself, and so could do without drink.
OK this is a bit strange, but Beach isn’t, honestly, as interested in Magyar rain magic – what’s a little condensation between friends? – as what follows after. To the best of his knowledge this is last time that a European state involves itself in the persecution of a witch. Anything else anywhere to compare with this kind of input from a nineteenth or twentieth century government? drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com
In consequence of the denunciation, the authorities had the woman examined by two midwives, who found on her body a witch’s mark of all the colours of the rainbow.
This sentence is simply incredible. It is a scene from witch-mad Salem, but two hundred years later. Anyway back to the 1660s, sorry, Beach means the 1860s.
She was then told that she must submit to be cauterized, and if not the people of the commune would burn her on a pile of thorns.
So she has to have the birthmark burnt off (?), on state advice (??) or she’ll be handed over to her father-in-law and his buddies? Beach is honestly not clear what is cauterized here only that it was painful. A coin would be about the size of a birthmark.
The unfortunate woman was compelled to allow herself to be cauterized by her own aunt with a red-hot silver coin.
Two days later the rain fell. The journalist gives a bit of sanctimonious British moralizing about less happy lands – because this kind of nonsense would never happen under enlightened British rule, oh no. But you can imagine what the village saw in the large grey clouds that now appeared. Confirmation… The chances are the Hungarian government no longer used midwifes to work their way over witch’s bodies looking for suspected birth marks, but village witches were probably still worried about thorn bonfires well into the twentieth century. If only Beach had enough Hungarian to find out…