As was the custom for children of the nobility, Christenze was sent to be brought up in a noble family other than her own, and she was raised at the estate Nakkebölle by Eiler Brockenhuus and his wife.
When Brockenhuus became a widower in 1582, Christenze had hoped that he would marry her, but in 1584, he married Anne Bille instead. Anne Bille bore seventeen children, who all died. When Anne's cousin bore a dead child in 1596, and accused three women for having caused the death by use of sorcery and had them burned at the stake, Anne begun to think that her own misfortune was caused by sorcery as well. She then followed the example of her cousin and accused a woman named Åse Lauridses.
Åse confessed that the marital bed of Anne had been cursed at their wedding bed by Gunder Kaeldersvends, a demon, and Christenze Kruckow. Another of the accused women, Johanne Jensens, added that Christenze had been present at a witches' sabbath at Bloksberg.
Johanne Jensens was burned at the stake for witchcraft, but the authorities did not wish to accuse a member of the nobility, and the brother of Christenze got her a new home with her sister in Ålborg.
In 1611, rumors were circulating in the city of Ålborg of strange diseases and speaking cats and pigs in the cemetery. In 1619, the authorities investigated. Several women were burned at the stake for sorcery in this witch trial, and they pointed out Christenze as one of them, but the authorities did not wish to accuse a member of the nobility.
The king, Christian IV of Denmark, however, who had a great interest in witchcraft, encouraged people to accuse her. A priest accused her of having caused the death of his wife; Peder Poulsen had seen her as one of the witches present when a witch gave birth to an ogre; and Sören Tommermand had been victim of a knife attack after Kruckow had promised him misfortune.
Christenze was then arrested. She admitted that she had cursed the bridal bed of Anne Bille years before, and that she had disliked the wife of the priest. She was judged guilty and sentenced to death for sorcery. The punishment for sorcery was to be burned to death. Christenze, however, was decapitated with an axe as a privilege of her noble status. She was then buried according to all appropriate ceremonials of the church, a burial not always given to executed witches.
In Scandinavia, it was unusual for a member of the nobility to be tried for sorcery. In both Denmark and Sweden, only one such case each are known; in Sweden, the noblewoman Kerstin Ulfsax was executed in 1585.
References and literature
- https://web.archive.org/web/20080110084350/http://www.historie-online.dk/special/sankthans/cristenze.htm (In Danish)
- Jan Guillou: Häxornas försvarare (The defender of the witches) (In Swedish)
- Christenze Kruckow. En adelig Troldkvinde fra Chr. IV's Tid (Christenze Kruckow. A noble witch from the age of Chr. the 4th), by Jorgen Carl Jacobsen
- Dansk kvindebiografisk leksikon