The Burgomaster of Bamberg
Written and compiled by George Knowles
In the early 17th
century, the city of
Bamberg, Germany was at the centre of some of the most vicious and prolific
witch persecutions to take place during the whole 200-year history of the
Burning Times. The persecutions of
witches in Bamberg began under the auspices of the Prince-Bishop Johann
Gottfried von Aschhausen (1609-1622), who was responsible for the torture and
deaths of some 400 alleged witches. In
one year alone 1617, 102 witches were accused, tortured, beheaded and burned.
Gottfried Johann Georg II Fuchs von Dornheim (known as The Hexenbischof
– The Witch Bishop) took over the diocese (1623-1633), witch-hunting and
persecution reached new heights. Von
Dornheim was an unscrupulous man motivated by power and greed rather than
religious zeal, and held little regard for the laws of the state particularly
when it came to lining his own pockets. Aided
by his suffragan Bishop Friedrich Förner, they set up a secular council of
Lawyers and expanded a network of informers to prey on the citizens of Bamberg.
Their job as Commissioners of Law was to try and condemn anyone accused
of witchcraft, and more importantly to confiscate their wealth and property.
Prince-Bishop Fuchs von Dornheim
In 1627 Von Dornheim
built a special Drudenhaus (a witch prison) containing torture chambers
and cell-rooms for thirty to forty prisoners, he also built similar ones in the
smaller towns of the province: in
Zeil, Hallstadt and Kronach. In
them he employed full-time torturers and executioners and equipped them with all
the latest torture devices, including: thumbscrews,
leg-vices, racks, prayer stools fitted with sharp wooden pegs, stocks furnished
with iron spikes, and perhaps the most severe and excruciating means of torture
the strappado, often used with weights.
Other manual tortures
employed included: sleep
deprivation, forced feeding and drinking, pricking, branding, alternating cold
water baths and scalding water baths to which lime had been added, feathers
dipped in burning sulphur and held under the armpits and groin, and rope
friction - when wrapped around the head or neck caused excruciating pain and
often cut into the bone. Many other
tortures were used so diabolical as to stretch the imagination.
The strappado was often used with weights.
Torture in the Drudenhauses
was the rule and vigorously applied to anyone unfortunate enough to be sent
there, no one could resist confessing when subjected to the cruelty of their
treatments. In just three years
between 1627 and 1630, Von Dornheim and his henchmen systematically interrogated
and condemned over 600 alleged witches in Bamberg alone, and another 900 in the
provinces. No one safe during his
reign of terror as he accused and executed some of the leading citizens of
Bamberg, among his victims were the Chancellor - Dr. George Haan (together with
his wife and daughter), the Treasurer - Wolfgang Hoffmeister and 5 district Burgomasters.
The last of the
Burgomasters to be executed was Johannes Junius the Burgomaster of
Bamberg, who had served in that capacity for the past 20 years.
Shortly before his arrest in June 1628 his own wife had been executed as
a witch, and so from that association
and by being implicated by other victims of the witch-hunts, he too was
arrested. The court account of
his trial is typical of the many thousands of witch-trials from
the period, but what makes this trial different is a poignant hand-written
letter Junius wrote to his daughter Veronica
while awaiting his own execution.
the trial of Burgomaster
Wednesday, June 28, 1628, was examined without torture Johannes Junius,
Burgomaster at Bamberg, on the charge of witchcraft:
how and in what fashion he had fallen into that vice.
Is fifty-five years old, and was born at Niederwaysich in the Wetterau.
Says he is wholly innocent, knows nothing of the crime has never in his
life renounced God: says that he is
wronged before God and the world, would like to hear of a single human being who
has seen him at such gatherings (as the witch-sabbats).
of Dr. Georg Adam Haan. Tells him
to his face he will stake his life on it (er wolle darauf leben und sterben)
that he saw him, Junius, a year and a half ago at a witch-gathering in the
electoral council-room, where they ate and drank.
Accused denies the same wholly.
with a servant Ellse. Tells him
likewise that he was on Hauptsmorwald at a sabbat, but first the holy wafer was
desecrated. Junius denies.
Hereupon he was told that his accomplices had confessed against him and
was given time for thought.
Friday, June 30, 1628, the aforesaid Junius was again without torture exhorted
to confess, but again confessed nothing; whereupon . . . since he would confess
nothing, he was put to the torture, and first thumbscrews were applied.
Says he has never denied God his Saviour nor suffered himself to be
otherwise baptized; will again stake his life on it; feels no pain in the
(Beinschauben). Will confess
absolutely nothing; knows nothing about it. He has never renounced God; will never do such a thing;
has never been guilty of this vice. Feels
likewise no pain.
stripped and examined; on his right side is found a bluish mark, shaped like a
trefoil, is thrice pricked without sensation or drawing blood.
He has never renounced God. God
will not forsake him. If he were
such a wretch he would not let himself be so tortured.
God must show some token of his innocence.
He knows nothing about witchcraft. . . .
July 5, the above named Junius is without torture, but with urgent persuasions,
exhorted to confess, and at last begins and confesses:
Confession of Burgomaster
in the year 1624 his law-suit at Rothweil cost him some six hundred florins, he
had gone out, in the month of August, into his orchard (Baumfeld) at
Friedrichsbronnen; and, as he sat there in thought, there had come to him a
woman like a grass-maid, who had asked him why he sat there so sorrowful.
He had answered that he was not despondent, but she had led him by
seductive speeches to yield to her will. . . . And thereafter this wench had
changed into the form of a goat, which bleated and said, “Now you see with
whom you have had to do. You must
be mine or I will forthwith break your neck”.
Thereupon he had been frightened, and trembled all over for fear.
Than the transformed spirit had seized him by the throat, and demanded
that he should renounce God Almighty, whereupon Junius said, “God help me”,
" and thereupon the spirit vanquished through the power of these words.
Yet it came straightway back, brought more people with it, and
persistently demanded of him that he renounce God in Heaven and all the heavenly
host, by which terrible threatening he was obliged to speak this formula:
“I renounce God in Heaven and his host, and will henceforward recognize
the Devil as my God”.
the renunciation he was so far persuaded by those present and by the evil spirit
that he suffered himself to be baptized by the devil in the evil spirit’s
name. The Morhauptin had given him
a ducat as dower-gold, which afterward became only a potsherd.
was then named Krix. His succubus
was called Vixen (Füchsin). Those
present had congratulated him in Beelzebub’s name and said that they were now
all alike. At his baptism, among
others, were the aforesaid Morhauptin Christiana, the young Geiserlin, Paul
Glaser, Casper Wittich, and Claus Gebhard, who were both gardeners.
After this they had dispersed.
this time, his paramour had promised to provide him with money, and from time to
time to take him to the sabbats.
he wished to ride to the sabbat, a black dog would come to his bed, and tell him
to come; whereupon he would mount it, and the dog would raise himself in the
devil’s name and so fly off.
two years ago, he was taken to the electoral council-room, at the left hand as
one goes in. Above, at a table,
were seated the Chancellor, the Burgomaster Neudecker, Dr. George Haan, (and
twenty-four others). Since his eyes
were not good, he could not recognize more persons.
time for consideration was now given him.
July 7, 1628, the aforesaid Junius was again examined, to know what further had
occurred to him to confess. He
confesses that about two months ago, on the day after an execution was held, he
was at a witch dance at the Black Cross, where Beelzebub had shown himself to
them all and said expressly to their faces that they must all be burned together
on this spot, and had ridiculed and taunted those present.
Names four more witches.
Crimes of Burgomaster
after his seduction, his succubus had demanded that he should make away with his
youngest boy Hans Georg, and had given him a gray powder for this purpose; this,
however, being too hard for him, he had made away with his brown horse, instead.
succubus had also repeatedly urged him to kill his two daughters . . . and
because he refused he had been beaten therefor.
at the suggestion of his succubus, he had taken the holy wafer out of his mouth
and given it to her. Was obliged occasionally to have intercourse with his
week before his arrest, as he was going to St. Martin’s church, the Devil met
him on the way, in the form of a goat, and told him that he would soon he
imprisoned, but that he should not trouble himself - he would soon set him free.
Besides this, by his soul’s salvation, he knew nothing further; but
what he had spoken was the pure truth; on that he would stake his life.
August 6, 1628, there was read to the aforesaid Junius this his confession,
which he then wholly ratified and confirmed, and was willing to stake his life
upon it. And afterward he
voluntarily confirmed the same before the court.
Later that day on the 06th of August 1628, Johannes Junius was burned at the stake.
Such was the official end to the trial and execution of Johannes Junius, but not the end to this tragic story. Before his execution, Junius was able to have a letter smuggled out of the Drudenhaus by one of his jailers, who for the price of a taler delivered it to his daughter Veronica. In the letter he warns her to flee the city before she too is accused of witchcraft by similar implication and association. The letter is a chilling first-hand account of the trial and torture he suffered while detained in the infamous Bamberg Drudenhaus.
The letter of Burgomaster Johannes
hundred thousand good-nights, dearly beloved daughter Veronica.
Innocent have I come into prison, innocent have I been tortured, innocent
must I die. For whoever comes into
the witch prison must become a witch or be tortured until he invents something
out of his head and - God pity him - bethinks him of something.
will tell you how it has gone with me.
I was the first time put to the torture, my brother-in-law, Dr. Braun, Dr.
Kotzendorffer, and two strange doctors were there.
Then Dr. Braun asks me; “Kinsman, how come you are here?”
I answer, “Through falsehood and through misfortune”.
“Hear, you,” he retorts, “you are a witch. Will you confess it voluntarily?
If not, we’ll bring in witnesses and the executioner for you”.
I said, “I am no witch; I have a pure conscience in the matter.
If there are a thousand witnesses, I am not anxious, but I'll gladly hear
the Chancellor’s son was set before me, who said he had seen me.
I asked that he be sworn and legally examined, but Dr. Braun refused it.
Then the Chancellor, Dr. George Haan, was brought, who said the same as
his son. Afterward Höppfen Ellse.
She had seen me dance on Hauptsmorwald, but they refused to swear her in.
I said: “I have never
renounced God, and will never do it - God graciously keep me from it. I’ll rather bear whatever I must”.
then came also - God in highest Heaven have mercy - the executioner, and put the
thumbscrews on me, both hands bound together, so that the blood spurted from the
nails and everywhere, so that for four weeks I could not use my hands, as you
can see from the writing.
they stripped me, bound my hands behind me, and drew me up on the ladder.
Then I thought heaven and earth were at an end.
Eight times did they draw me up and let me fall again, so that I suffered
terrible agony. I said to Dr.
Braun, “God forgive you for thus misusing an innocent and honorable man”.
He replied, “You are a knave”.
this happened on Friday, June 30, and with God’s help I had to bear the
torture. When at last the
executioner led me back into the cell, he said to me, “Sir, I beg you, for
God’s sake, confess something, whether it be true or not.
Invent something, for you cannot endure the torture which you will be put
to; and, even if you bear it all, yet you will not escape, not even if you were
an earl, but one torture will follow another until you say you are a witch.
Not before that”," he said, “will they let you go, as you may
see by all their trials, for one is just like another”.
came George Haan, who said the commissioners had said the Prince-Bishop wished
to make such an example of me, that everybody would be astonished.
so I begged, since I was in wretched plight, to be given one day for thought and
a priest. The priest was refused
me, but the time for thought was given. Now, my dearest child, see in what hazard I stood and still
stand. I must say that I am a
witch, though I am not - must now renounce God, though I have never done it
before. Day and night I was deeply
troubled, but at last there came to me a new idea. I would not be anxious, but, since I had been given no priest
with whom I could take counsel, I would myself think of something and say it.
It were surely better that I just say it with mouth and words, even
though I had not really done it; and afterwards I could confess it to the
priest, and let those answer for it who compel me to do it . . . And so I made
my confession, as follows; but it was all a lie.
follows, dear child, what I confessed in order to escape the great anguish and
bitter torture, which it was impossible for me longer to bear.
Such were the true events of his trial and torture leading up to his confession, which is very much as it appears given in the record of his trial. The letter continues:
I had to tell what people I had seen (at the witch sabbat).
I said that I had not recognized them.
“You old knave, I must put the torturer at your throat.
Say - was not the Chancellor there?”
So I said yes. “Who
besides?” I had not recognized anybody.
So he said: “Take one
street after another. Begin at the
market, go out on one street and back on the next”.
I had to name several persons there.
Then came the long street (die lange Gasse). I knew nobody. Had
to name eight persons there. Then
the Zinkenwert - one person more. Then
over the upper bridge to the Georgthor, on both sides. Knew nobody again. Did
I know nobody in the castle - whoever it might be, I should speak without fear.
And thus continuously they asked me on all the streets, though I could
not and would not say more. So they
gave me to the torturer, told him to strip me, shave me all over, and put me to
the torture. “The rascal knows
one on the market-place, is with him daily, and yet won’t name him”.
By this they meant Burgomaster Dietmeyer: so I had to name him too.
I had to tell what crimes I had committed. I said nothing. . . “Hoist the
knave up!” So I said that I was
to kill my children, but I had killed a horse instead.
It did not help. I had also taken a sacred wafer, and had buried it.
When I had said this, they left me in peace.
dearest child, here you have all my acts and confession, for which I must die.
And they are sheer lies and inventions, so help me God.
For all this I was forced to say through dread of the torture beyond what
I had already endured. For they
never leave off with the torture till one confesses something; be he ever so
pious, he must be a witch. Nobody
escapes, though he were an earl. If
God send no means of bringing the truth to light, our whole kindred will be
burned. God in heaven knows that I
know not the slightest thing. I die innocent and as a martyr.
child, keep this letter secret, so that people do not find it, else I shall be
tortured most piteously and the jailers will be beheaded.
So strictly is it forbidden. . . . Dear child, pay this man a thaler. . .
. I have taken several days to write this: my hands are both crippled.
I am in a sad plight. . . .
night, for your father Johannes Junius will never see you more.
In the margin of the letter Junius added:
Dear child, six have confessed against me at once: the Chancellor, his son, Neudecker, Zaner, Hoffmaister Ursel, and Höppfen Ellse - all false, through compulsion, as they have all told me, and begged my forgiveness in God’s name before they were executed. . . . They know nothing but good of me. They were forced to say it, just as I myself was.
What became of his daughter Veronica after 1628, nobody knows, but the letter survived, and was later found among the trial records of the period, preserved in the Bamberg achieves.
Johannes Junius was by know means the last person to undergo trial and
torture in the Bamberg Drudenhaus,
for the witch-hunts continued unchecked until 1630.
By that time knowledge of the unrelenting ruthlessness and cruelty of the
Bamberg witch trials, and Von Dornheim’s constant disregard for the
Emperor’s laws, arrests were commonly kept secret and no legal counsel
provided for the victims, Emperor Ferdinand II acting under pressure
requisitioned the Bamberg court records for examination.
As a result he ordered that all future accusations of witchcraft be made
public, defendants to be allowed legal counsel, and the confiscation of their
property to cease.
Greed and power had been the mainstay of the witch-trials in Bamberg more so than religious zeal, and no longer being able to confiscate the wealth and property of the accused, the witch hunts soon receeded. Only 24 victims were executed in 1630 and none in 1631. This was helped in 1630 when the suffragan Bishop Friedrich Förner died in December that year. Von Dornheim himself died in 1633 bringing an end to the cancerous growth of witch-hunting that had engulfed that part of Germany. As to the notorious Drudenhaus, it was later demolished and reduced to rubble, and what remained of its building materials used in the construction of a monastery.
Encyclopedia of Witches &Witchcraft -
By Rosemary Ellen Guiley
The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology - By Rossell Hope Robbins
Written and compiled on the 14th December 2007 © George Knowles
Best wishes and Blessed Be
Site Contents - Links to all Pages
A Universal Message:
Let there be peace in the world - Where have all the flowers gone?
Wicca & Witchcraft
Wiccan Rede / Charge of the Goddess / Charge of the God / The Three-Fold Law (includes The Law of Power and The Four Powers of the Magus) / The Witches Chant / The Witches Creed / Descent of the Goddess / Drawing Down the Moon / The Great Rite Invocation / Invocation of the Horned God / The 13 Principles of Wiccan Belief / The Witches Rede of Chivalry / A Pledge to Pagan Spirituality
Traditions Part 1 - Alexandrian Wicca / Aquarian Tabernacle Church (ATC) / Ár Ndraíocht Féin (ADF) / Blue Star Wicca / British Traditional (Druidic Witchcraft) / Celtic Wicca / Ceremonial Magic / Chaos Magic / Church and School of Wicca / Circle Sanctuary / Covenant of the Goddess (COG) / Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS) / Cyber Wicca / Dianic Wicca / Eclectic Wicca / Feri Wicca /
Traditions Part 2 - Gardnerian Wicca / Georgian Tradition / Henge of Keltria / Hereditary Witchcraft / Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (H.O.G.D.) / Kitchen Witch (Hedge Witch) / Minoan Brotherhood and Minoan Sisterhood Tradition / Nordic Paganism / Pagan Federation / Pectic-Wita / Seax-Wica / Shamanism / Solitary / Strega / Sylvan Tradition / Vodoun or Voodoo / Witches League of Public Awareness (WLPA) /
Other things of interest:
Gods and Goddesses (Greek
Mythology) / Esbats &
Full Moons / Links
to Personal Friends & Resources / Wicca/Witchcraft
Resources / What's a spell? /
Circle Casting and
Sacred Space / Pentagram
- Pentacle / Marks
of a Witch / The Witches
Power / The Witches Hat
esoteric guide to visiting London / Satanism
Unitarian Universalist Association / Numerology: Part 1
/ Part 2 / Part
3 / A
history of the Malleus Maleficarum: includes: Pope
Innocent VIII /
papal Bull /
Malleus Maleficarum /
An extract from the Malleus Maleficarum
/ The letter of approbation
Nider’s Formicarius /
Heinrich Kramer /
/ Montague Summers /
/ The Albigenses
The Hussites / The
/ Shielding (Occult
and Psychic Protection) /
Sabbats and Rituals:
Sabbats in History and Mythology / Samhain (October 31st) / Yule (December 21st) / Imbolc (February 2nd) / Ostara (March 21st) / Beltane (April 30th) / Litha (June 21st) / Lughnasadh (August 1st) / Mabon (September 21st)
Animals in Witchcraft (The Witches Familiar) / Antelope / Bats / Crow / Fox / Frog and Toads / Goat / Honeybee / Kangaroo / Lion / Owl / Phoenix / Rabbits and Hares / Raven / Robin Redbreast / Sheep / Spider / Squirrel / Swans / Wild Boar / Wolf / Serpent / Pig / Stag / Horse / Mouse / Cat
In Worship of Trees - Myths, Lore and the Celtic Tree Calendar. For descriptions and correspondences of the thirteen sacred trees of Wicca/Witchcraft see the following: Birch / Rowan / Ash / Alder / Willow / Hawthorn / Oak / Holly / Hazel / Vine / Ivy / Reed / Elder. Also see: The Willow Tree (Folk Music)
Rocks and Stones:
Articles contributed by Patricia Jean Martin: / Apophyllite / Amber / Amethyst / Aquamarine / Aragonite / Aventurine / Black Tourmaline / Bloodstone / Calcite / Carnelian / Celestite / Citrine / Chrysanthemum Stone / Diamond / Emerald / Fluorite / Garnet / Hematite / Herkimer Diamond / Labradorite / Lapis Lazuli / Malachite / Moonstone / Obsidian / Opal / Pyrite / Quartz (Rock Crystal) / Rose Quartz / Ruby / Selenite / Seraphinite / Silver and Gold / Smoky Quartz / Sodalite / Sunstone / Thunderegg / Tree Agate / Zebra Marble
Articles and Stories about Witchcraft:
Murder by Witchcraft / The Fairy Witch of Clonmel / A Battleship, U-boat, and a Witch / The Troll-Tear (A story for Children) / Goody Hawkins - The Wise Goodwife / The Story of Jack-O-Lantern / The Murder of the Hammersmith Ghost / Josephine Gray (The Infamous Black Widow) / The Two Brothers - Light and Dark
Old Masters of Academia:
(Ancient, Past and Present)
(Departed Pagan Pioneers, Founders and Elders)
Abramelin the Mage / Agrippa / Aidan A. Kelly / Albertus Magnus “Albert the Great” / Aleister Crowley “The Great Beast” / Alex Sanders "the King of the Witches” / Alison Harlow / Amber K / Anna Franklin / Anodea Judith / Anton Szandor LaVey / Arnold Crowther / Arthur Edward Waite / Austin Osman Spare / Biddy Early / Bridget Cleary / Carl Llewellyn Weschcke / Cecil Hugh Williamson / Charles Godfrey Leland / Charles Walton / Christina Oakley Harrington / Damh the Bard (Dave Smith) / Dion Fortune / Dolores Aschroft-Nowicki / Dorothy Morrison / Doreen Valiente / Edward Fitch / Eleanor Ray Bone “Matriarch of British Witchcraft” / Dr. John Dee and Edward Kelly / Dr. Leo Louis Martello / Eliphas Levi / Ernest Thompson Seton / Ernest Westlake and the Order of Woodcraft Chivalry / Fiona Horne / Friedrich von Spee / Francis Barrett / Gerald B. Gardner / Gavin and Yvonne Frost and the School and Church of Wicca / Gwydion Pendderwen / Hans Holzer / Helen Duncan / Herman Slater "Horrible Herman" / Israel Regardie / James "Cunning" Murrell / Janet Farrar & Gavin Bone / Jessie Wicker Bell “Lady Sheba” / John Belham-Payne / John George Hohman / John Gerard / John Gordon Hargrave (the White Fox) / John Michael Greer / John Score / Johannes Junius the Burgomaster of Bamberg / Karl von Eckartshausen / Laurie Cabot "the Official Witch of Salem" / Lewis Spence / Margaret Alice Murray / Margot Adler / Marie Laveau the " Voodoo Queen of New Orleans" / Marion Weinstein / Matthew Hopkins “The Witch-Finder General” / Max Ehrmann and the Desiderata / Monique Wilson the “Queen of the Witches” / Montague Summers / Nicholas Culpeper / Nicholas Remy / M. R. Sellers / Mrs. Grieve "A Modern Herbal" / Oberon and Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart / Old Dorothy Clutterbuck / Old George Pickingill / Paddy Slade / Pamela Colman-Smith / Paracelsus / Patricia Crowther / Patricia Monaghan / Patricia “Trish” Telesco / Philip Emmons Isaac Bonewits / Philip Heselton / Raymond Buckland / Reginald Scot / Robert Cochrane / Robert ‘von Ranke’ Graves and "The White Goddess" /Rudolf Steiner / Rosaleen Norton “The Witch of Kings Cross” / Ross Nichols and The Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids / Sabrina - The Ink Witch / Scott Cunningham / Selena Fox / Silver Ravenwolf / Sir Francis Dashwood / Sir James George Frazer / S.L. MacGregor Mathers and the “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” / Starhawk / Stewart Farrar / Sybil Leek / Ted Andrews / The Mather Family - includes: Richard Mather, Increase Mather, Cotton Mather / Thomas Ady / Vera Chapman / Victor Henry Anderson / Vivianne Crowley / Walter Brown Gibson / William Butler Yeats / Zsuzsanna Budapest
Many of the above biographies are brief and far from complete. If you know about any of these individuals and can help with aditional information, please cantact me privately at my email address below. Many thanks for reading :-)
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