Spa witch trial
The Spa witch trial took place in the city of Spa in present day Belgium, in 1616. It was one of the larger and more known of the witch trials in Belgium. It led to the execution of ten women, and possibly the death of another four.
On 31 January 1616, the authorities of Franchimont issued an investigation of sorcery. The reason was, that one wished to find a cause for a strange plague which had caused the death of both humans and animals. The authorities encouraged the public to report anyone suspicious, such as women gathering in the forest, anyone absent from work, and condemned those giving bread to the sick, in attempt to bewitch them, and husbands who suspected their wives of committing adultery with devils.
The 3 February, Gielette Handchoule and Maroie Herodes were reported by a woman to be reputed witches. The husband of Herodes gave said that she had once felt very cold on return after having been absent, and that she had then felt very cold. A man reported Isabeau delle Court and Gelette Noel to be talked about as witches, and claimed that his horse had been sick after passing them. Several women were reported to the authorities in a similar way. Fourteen women were judged guilty and sentenced to death. The method of execution for witchcraft in Belgium was commonly garrotting and burning. This was a witch trial which seem to have been staged entirely by the authorities.
The accused of the trial
Fourteen women were judged guilty on witchcraft. More women were put on trial, but some of them were declared innocent.
- Gelette, femme Henry Noel
- Marguerite, fille Jean delle courte
- Maroie, femme Jean André
- La fille Bertelme Herode espouse Remacle Hanzoulle
- Jeanne Gerlaxhe
- La fille Bertholomé Herode estant à marier
- Donnon femme Mathy Cockelet
- La femme Bastin Collin
- La femme Remacle Begoz
- Isabeau, veuve Jean delle Courte
- La femme Jacques Cockelet
- Senton Gerlaxhe
- Gielette femme Henri de Wanze
- Maroie femme Bertholomé Hérode
Of fourteen women, ten were executed. The remaining four were possibly killed in prison during torture.
- Pierre Den Dooven, Sorcellerie dans le ban de Spa