A Winding Road to the Stake

Michael Ostling

in Between the Devil and the Host

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199587902
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731228 | DOI:

Series: The Past & Present Book Series

A Winding Road to the Stake

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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The road from suspicion to execution was neither short nor straight. A woman could be suspected for years without ever being accused, and once accused, she might not be convicted. This chapter traces the path from suspicion of witchcraft, through accusation, to village trials, town trials, dunking (the water ordeal), torture, appellate justice, intercession, verdict, sentencing, to execution. The chapter also examines the phenomenon of denunciation (accusations made under torture), and shows that this usually did not lead to chain-reaction trials or witch-panics because courts often could not compel denounced witches to stand before them.

Keywords: road to the stake; appellate justice; suspicion; accusation; dunking; village trials; torture; execution; denunciation

Chapter.  14357 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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