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Witchcraft in France
Posted In: Religion Articles  1/18/06
By: Yona Williams

Witchcraft trials in France can be dated back as early as 1275. An inquisition was created during this time, where trials involving the Bishop Peter of Bayeux, Ailps de Mons, as well as Count Robert d’Artois were held. The trials led some to be banished from the area, as well as worse consequences such as beheading.


Trials that occurred between 1275-1400 included:


In 1278, Bishop Peter of Bayeux and his nephew were accused of using sorcery against Philip III.


In 1308, Bishop Guichard of Troyes was charged for using magic against a variety of aristocrats, including Philip de Bel.


In 1314, Ailps de Mons and other aristocrats were accused of using magic against Louis X.


In 1331, it was believed that Robert d’Artois created a wax figure for use against the King’s son. He was banished for this act.


In 1398, an array of accused individuals were beheaded and blamed for causing the French monarch’s craziness.


In 1390, the authorities became involved with the inquisition, bringing the cases before a court of law. Beginning during the 15th century, many of the accused saw the death penalty. In Briancon, Dauphine, it was reported that more than 100 women and 50 men were burned alive for being a witch. This occurred between the years of 1428-1450. In Toulouse, the number of people put to death in 1557 was 40. In the location of Poitiers, four individuals lost their life in 1568.


Arras Witch Hunt

The inquisition was responsible for a witch-hunt that resulted from the torture of several tortured accused witches, who in turn confessed the identities of other supposed witches. The inquisition tracked down the accused, charging them for being witches and finding them guilty. The accused were forced to walk down the streets, dressed in clothing associated with heretics. They then were burned alive after this humiliation. The inquisition had a habit of practicing nasty tactics to trick others into confession by promising them that if they cooperated, they would be set free.


Cideville Trials

Practicing medicine without a license could put you into the category of being a witch during this time. The case of Felix Thorel, who claimed to have been influenced by a “white witch.” He believed that he possessed the powers to create unexplainable occurrences and was put on trial for being a witch. After a trial, his powers could not be proven; therefore he was allowed to go free.


Luxeuil Trial of Madame Desle la Mansenee

A well-known trial in this area centered on Madame Desle la Mansenee, who was accused of being a witch. Her trial was brought upon by the efforts of the inquisition. The importance of this trial proved how powerful and influential the inquisition could be. The case against la Mansenee was built upon gossip and “he said, she said.” It was based upon accusations from her neighbors that she was the cause of their misfortune. As a result, she was hung and her body was burned.


Paris Witch Trial

The Parliament was involved with this witch trial where the law was used to prove guilt. Torture was used in this case because it was believed that the spirit of an individual could be seen through this method. The case focuses on Jehenne de Brigue, who was accused of using sorcery to heal another. Jehan de Ruilly was quite ill, who was believed to be sick due to a spell that was cast upon him by his lover. The accused died to being a witch, but confessed that she had used charms, forgetting to say her Paternoster, which is the Lord’s Prayer. 


It took a bit of time, but she finally admitting to being a witch, but during her sentencing, she told officials that she was pregnant. This was not proven and an appeal went into process. This is when the torture began. She was fastened to a ladder where she confessed to help kill Ruilly with the help of his wife. Both women were tried together, lost and were burned to death.




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