Bamberg witch trials

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Bamberg Cathedral

The Bamberg witch trials, which took place in Bamberg in Germany in 1626–1631, are among the more famous cases in European witchcraft history. They resulted in the executions of between 300 and 600 people, and were some of the greatest witch trials in history, as well as some of the greatest executions in the Thirty Years' War.

The Bamberg witch trials erupted during a period of a series of mass witch trials in the area of Southern Germany, contemporary with the Würzburg witch trials and others. The witch craze of the 1620s was not confined to Germany, but influenced Alsace, Lorraine and Franche-Comté: in the lands of the abbey of Luxueil the years 1628–30 have been described as an épidémie démoniaque.

The area had been devastated by war and conflicts within the Holy Roman Empire, as well as a series of crop failures, famines and plagues. Rather than blaming the politicians, people looked for supernatural explanations, and accusations of witchcraft proliferated. Bamberg at the time was a small state ruled by the Prince-Bishop Johann Georg Fuchs von Dornheim, who took a leading role in the persecutions: he earned the nickname Hexenbischof or "Witch-bishop." He was aided by Bishop Forner, who wrote a book on the subject. The prince bishop built a "witch-house," complete with torture-chamber adorned with appropriate biblical texts. The Bamberg witch trials have been described as possibly the worst of the period.

The bishop's chancellor, Dr. Haan, was burnt for showing suspicious leniency as a judge. He confessed to having seen five burgomasters of Bamberg at the sabbat, and they too were duly burnt: one of them was Johannes Junius, whose testimony of the torture he was exposed to became famous.

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