The lamentable fate of Mike Stuchbery 🎃🍷 @MikeStuchbery_ (Freelance) Journalist, Historian, Teacher & Tour Guide ★ 🇦🇺 in 🇩🇪 ★ Contributing Editor at @BylineTimes ★ History at @TheLocalEurope ★ Resolutely ↙️↙️↙️ Oct. 01, 2019 3 min read

We'll never know what the servant did to the boy. Records aren't complete, and memory of trauma can be unreliable.

What we do know is that afterwards, when he managed to talk about it, he spoke of the Devil, and of bargains... /1

Despite the fact that you can catch a tram into the centre of Stuttgart in 15 minutes now, in the 1660s the villages of Vaihingen and Möhringen were over two hours of hard riding to the city.

It was isolated, superstitious country, still ravaged by sickness and war. /2

Despite this fact, the boy's testimony made its way from rider to rider, from village to village, until it reached the gates of the free city of Esslingen.

There, a jurist named Daniel Hauff heard the rumours. He saw something in them. He rode out to speak to the boy. /3

Rather than being reluctant to speak about what had happened to him, the boy couldn't stop himself.

His testimony, along with descriptions of what clearly constitute sexual abuse, describe the teaching of magic, descriptions of Witches' sabbaths and the like. /4

Then the boy began to speak names - the names of local people, farmers and the like. Men and women both featured as alleged participants in dark, murderous rites.

The boy was taken back to Esslingen and kept near the Rathaus, where Hauff questioned him relentlessly. /5

Soon, the carts and bailiffs began to arrive, first in Vaihingen, then Möhringen. Men and women were taken from their homes for questioning.

Under the 'Carolina' - the law code of the Holy Roman Empire - torture was expected to force a confession. /6

Name after name spilled out. Over the next three years, between 1662 and 1665, pyres were assembled 35 times for the burning of a 'witch' - the traditional method of execution. /7

Then, something strange began to happen. The names started to lead to the gates of Esslingen. Those accused of witchcraft began to become merchants, councillors, doctors, rather than the simple farmers and millers that had been named earlier. /8

When the names began to include those on the city's various councils, the city of Esslingen was thrown into mass panic.

All the while, as accusations flew, Hauff rose in standing and power. /9

At the very height of the craze, one of those tortured named the wife of one of the city's high councillors.

It's here that Hauff overplayed his hand.

He offered the councillor his wife's life, if he'd step down and let Hauff take his place. /10

Shortly afterwards, jurist Daniel Hauff was found dead, without a mark on him, in his bed.

Must have been his heart, of course. Sometimes these things just happen. /11

The embers of the pyres cooled, and things returned to a kind of normal.

There'd still be the occasional execution of a witch in the area, but nothing like the three years between 1662 and 1665. /12

In the scale of things, the Esslingen with craze barely registers. It's thought in Würzburg and Bamberg, during their crazes, over a thousand each were killed.

Still, it's remembered here, with references to Hauff's death. Just as the mob starts a craze, they can finish it. /13

Hope you enjoyed that. A sad, sorry little tale to start October.

More to come - and more on why so many were consigned to the flames in what was an age of fear. /FIN


You can follow @MikeStuchbery_.



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