The Witch Persecution at Bonn

George L. Burr, ed., The Witch Persecutions
in Translations and Reprints from the Original Sources of European History, 6 vols.
(Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania History Department, 1898-1912) vol. 3, no. 4, pp. 18-19

Hanover Historical Texts Project
Scanned by Mike Anderson, May 1998.
Proofread and pages added by Jonathan Perry, March 2001.

Burr's note: [Page 18]An undated letter [1] from the pastor (Duren) of the village of Alfter, near Bonn, to Count Werner of Salm thus describes the persecution in that city::

Those burned are mostly male witches of the sort described. There must be half the city implicated: for already professors, law-students, pastors, canons, vicars, and monks have here been arrested and burned. His Princely Grace has seventy wards [2] who are to become pastors, one of whom, eminent as a musician, was yesterday arrested; two others were sought for, but have fled. The Chancellor and his wife and the [Page 19] Private Secretary's wife are already executed. On the eve of Our Lady's Day there was executed here a maiden of nineteen who bore the name of being the fairest and the most blameless of all the city, and who from her childhood had been brought up by the Bishop himself. A canon of the cathedral, named Rotenhahn, I saw beheaded and burned. Children of three or four years have devils for their paramours. Students and boys of noble birth, of nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen years have been burned. In fine, things are in such a pitiful state that one does not know with what people one may talk and associate.


[1] At least, the date of the letter is not given by W. v. Waldbruhl, who prints from it this extract in his Naturforschung and Hexenglaube. (Berlin, 1867). He says only that it had shortly before been found in the Salm archives. It belongs, doubtless, to the early seventeenth century. Bonn, not then a university town, was the official residence of the Prince-Archbishops of Cologne.

[2] Boys to be trained for priests in his seminary.

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