Anne Pedersdotter (died 7 April 1590) was an alleged Norwegian witch. Her case was one of the most documented of the many witch trials in Norway in the 16th and 17th centuries. Together with Lisbeth Nypan, she was perhaps the most famous victim of the accusation in Norway.
Anne Pedersdotter was born in the city of Trondheim as the daughter of an official. She was the sister of an official of Trondheim, Sören Pedersson. In 1552, she married Absalon Pedersson Beyer, a Lutheran clergyman and a professor in theology in the city of Bergen, where they lived.
In 1575, Anne was accused of having killed her husband's uncle, Bishop Gjeble Pedersson, by sorcery, in order to make her husband bishop. She was freed from the charges through her husband's connections, as he managed to get her a pardon from the King of Denmark. The year after this, she became a wealthy widow, freed from taxes by the king. Once accused of witchcraft, however, she was always considered a witch. She lived isolated, and she reacted to the rumors with hostility and by arguing with people. The rumors became worse and worse over the years.
In March 1590, she was accused a second time. She refused to attend the trial, and was fetched to it by force. During the trial, she was accused of having murdered six people by making them sick by magic. The witnesses were friends and neighbors. Her maid Elina accused her of having used her as a riding horse to a witches' Sabbath, where the witches planned to burn down the city. Others claimed they had seen her in the presence of demons.
During the trial, Anne reportedly displayed "willpower, clearsight and skill". On the accusation of having killed a child, she replied: "Many children die in the town, I have not killed them all". Despite protests from some ministers in Bergen clergy, she was sentenced to death. In Norway, witches were generally burned alive, and Anne received this sentence. On the way to the execution, she cried out her innocence several times.
Anne Pedersdotter was burned alive at the stake in the city of Bergen on the 7 April 1590. Her case is regarded as the starting point of the many witch trials in Norway in the 17th century, especially in Finnmark from Vardø witch trials (1621).
Anne Pedersdotter, a drama in four acts by Norwegian playwright, Hans Wiers-Jenssen was performed in 1909. This inspired La fiamma (1934) an opera by Italian composer Ottorino Respighi and the film Day of Wrath (1943) directed by Danish filmmaker Carl Theodor Dreyer. Pedersdotter was also the subject of Anne Pedersdotter, an opera by Norwegian composer Edvard Fliflet Bræin with libretto by Hans Kristiansen. In 1977, Norwegian author Vera Henriksen released the novel Skjærsild featuring aspects of the story.
In 2002, a memorial called the Witch Stone (Hekse-steinen på Nordnes) was erected at the place of execution in the Nordnes neighbourhood of Bergen as a monument to the victims of witch trials in Norway. The inscription translates to 350 bonfire victims to miscarriage of justice 1550–1700.
The 2009 album "Throw Money" by independent musician Kevin Loy features a composition named after Anne Pedersdotter.
- Hagen, Rune Blix (2003), Hekser. Fra forfølgelse til fortryllelse (in Norwegian), Oslo: Humanist, ISBN 978-82-92622-63-6.
- Gilje, Nils (2003), Heksen og humanisten : Anne Pedersdatter og Absalon Pederssøn Beyer (in Norwegian), Bergens historiske forenings.