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
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
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
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
You can follow @MikeStuchbery_.
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