Rugård witch trials
The Rugård witch trials took place on the Rugård manor, and the community of Ebeltoft close to it, on Jylland in Denmark in 1685–1686. It was the most significant witch trial in Denmark since the Rosborg witch trials of 1639, and caused a wave of new witch trials on Jylland after a period of diminishing witch hunt. The case led to the issue of a new law, which banned local courts to executed death sentences without confirmation of the national high court, a law which interrupted the local witch hunt and eventually stopped it nationwide.
The trial 
In 1683, the first witch trial in Denmark since 1652 caused a witch hysteria in the nation. In September 1685, a woman by the name of Mette was put on trial in Ebeltoft, accused by her neighbors for having killed their horses by the use of magic. The previous year, Mette had swore to take vengeance on the neighbors when they refused to help her, and now, the horses had died without identifiable cause. Mette was placed in the prison dungeon at Rugård manor, the residence of the nobleman Jørgen Arenfeldt, who had the authority to issue private sentences. At Christmas 1686, Arenfeldt and three visiting priests conducted a private interrogation on Mette, and afterward, she was judged and executed upon the consent of judge Lerche.
In Ebeltoft, bailiff Hans Jacobsen had four suspects arrested, tried on water and two of them burnt at the stake. In parallel, Jørgen Arenfeldt continued his witch trial on Rugård manor, were he had Gye Nielsdatter confess to witches company's', devil's mark, devils' pact, point out accomplices and sentenced to be burnt in March 1686. Arenfeldt also had Anne Sørensdatter, who was rumored to have Clairvoyance, arrested together with her mother, despite the fact that they lived outside of his legal jurisdiction. He forced Anne Sørensdatter to point out a row of accomplices, among them many names of powerful people, and then had her and her mother sentenced to death.
The witch trials on Rugård manor and Ebeltoft was dominated by private interrogations, illegal use of torture, and the use of ordeal of water and the needle test. The accused were exposed to religious arguments by priests, who convinced them of their guilt by the use of religious arguments. They caused a chain of witch trials on Eastern Jylland in the year of 1686.
By his interrogation of Anne Sørensdatter, however, Jørgen Arenfeldt had been given the names of several powerful people, who was thereby pointed out as witches. He was therefore summoned to Åhus 14 July 1686 for questioning. The 21 July, a new law was issued which banned all local courts from executing death sentences without confirmation from the national high court, a regulation that effectively terminated all witch trials by early 1687. In September 1686, Arenfeldt was sentenced guilty of having acquiring the names that denounced powerful people as witches from Anne Sørensdatter by the illegal use of torture, and by November, he was fined and deprived of his right to conduct private trials.
The witch trials in the rest of Denmark was to continued the following years; the last witch trials in Denmark that lead to a death sentence was that of Anne Palles in 1693.
- http://www.skovsted.dk/skrevet/speciale.htm (Danish)
- Henningsen, Gustav: Heksejægeren på Rugård - De sidste trolddoms - processer i Jylland 1685-87. Herning, 1991: