16TH C. Trials: 1490-1526   Scattered cases (Basque country, Pyrenees) 
    1526: Navarre Last execution for w/c before 1610 cases in Logrono
              Inquisitorial conference in Granada
    1530: Circular letter on restraint in witchcraft trials

16th century conflict between Inquisition and Secular courts

Early cases in 1490s and early 16th c (1507-1517, 1526) concentrated in Basque country and Pyrenees.
Secular courts push for harsher treatment of witches (cf. Germany and France), but Inquisition divided—
some favor leniency, other severity through 16th c, but leniency prevails.

1526=last executions for witchcraft before 1610. Navarre trials followed by meeting in Granada.
learned lawyers and theologians summoned by Inquisition to Granada to discuss Navarre witch cases.
Conclude that existence of witch sect is dubious, require proof of guilt for executions—this keeps lid on witch cases 16th C.

1530 circular letter calling for restraint in witchcraft cases. (similar to 1620’s provisions in Italy)

By 1500’s Inquisition has consolidated its control over witchcraft: majority of cases given light punishments
or acquittals. There are even records of cases in which Inquisition tried to move an accused witch from a village where
they were known as witches to another to mitigate effects of reputation and to “rehabilitate” the witch.

Spanish Inquisition Procedures

      VISITATION: yearly, 4 month trips;
                        each town visited at 10 year intervals
      EDICT OF FAITH:  list of all heresies read in church
      ANATHEMA against all who do not denounce heretics

      AUTO DA FÉ (Act of Faith): public ceremony
                    reconciling penitent heretics, executing others

      SAMBENITO: penitential garment worn in auto da fe,
                  then hung permanently in church with names

Edict of Faith: part of ordinary Inquisitorial procedure in Spain, central event of periodic
VISITATIONS—in which Inquisitors travel every year to one part of country, four month trip from town to town.
Intermittent form of social control (not as effective as Italian system)

On arrival publish EDICT OF FAITH: Inquisitorial questionnaire which lists every imaginable form of heresy on eight printed pages
—read aloud in every Church in area, attendance compulsory.

At Mass, whole congregation takes oath of loyalty to Inquisition, swear to expose heretics, then Edict is read—takes at least
one half-hour, listing heresies and symptoms (and teaching them)

  1. Judaism—converter lapsing into Jewish practices, describes them so people can recognize them.
  2. Moslem beliefs
  3. Protestant beliefs
  4. Miscellaneous heretical beliefs—e.g. rejection of afterlife
  5. Forbidden books
  6. Disrespect to Holy Office: including any statement that Inquisition burned someone unjustly.
  7. Witchcraft and superstition: knowledge of people who practiced magic, invoked demons, drew circles on ground,
    possessed familiar spirits or whether they knew any witches (male or female) or people with pact with devil.
    Distinction here between sorcerer/magician=hechiceria (hex spell) and
    witch = bruja (f), brujo (m

All present required under pain of excommunication to make secret denunciation to Inquisition within 6 days.
Sermon follows emphasizing duty to denounce, stressing leniency of Inquisition towards those who confess voluntarily.
Next Sunday ANATHAMEMA read—excommunicating those who had not complied with duty
to denounce themselves or others.
Read text in Henningsen pp. 100-101

Denunciations entered in Inquisitors libro di visita serious cases referred back to central court for investigation, after witnesses interrogated on spot.

Other duty of Inquisitor=to ensure that SAMBENITOS (penitential garments) of those previously convicted of heresy are still hanging with labels in
parish church. (must be replaced if dilapidated—many are over 100 years old, back to 1500)=reminder in every church in Spain of crimes of heretics
against faith and permanent disgrace to descendants.

Striking fact is that all this control yields few trials.

Explanation 1. sporadic arrival of Inquisitor, unlike Roman Inquisition which is in place.
2. e.g. of priest in Galicia, cited by Henry Kamen Spanish Inquisition, p167, urges parishioners
“not to go telling things about each other or meddle in things touching the Holy Office (or Inquisition).”

French connection to Spanish witch trials. Navarre—province on Spanish boarder, larger Basque population.

Pierre de Lancre—French judge from Bordeaux in southwest France. Bordeaux has independent parlement
(no appeal to parlement of Paris)
1609-1610 Conducts series of witch trials in Labourd, France
1612 Tableau de l’inconstance des mauvais anges et demons—draws on his experience as witch hunter
                  typical French secular judge/witch hunter

Attitude to Basques is negative, hostile: this is an element in the intensity of the witch hunt—
“neither French nor Spanish,” wishes to purge the unreliable Basques of their evil ways,
incorporate them into France

Image of Witchcraft: -hierarchical, ceremonial image of Sabbath;
-children give extensive evidence, many priests implicated
-area is intensely religious which affects the high level of religiosity.

1609-1610—approximately 600 people tried by de Lancre=MASS PANIC
80-100 executions; many people flee across border into Spain,
Spanish Basque regions begin to panic, local authorities initiate witch trials,
Spanish Inquisition sends in special representative.

        The French Connection:
                  Pierre de Lancre's trials in Bordeaux, SW France;
                  1609-1610: 600 trials, 100 executions

        LOGROÑO: Spanish city near Navarre, French border
           denunciations against French Basques fleeing de Lancre

        1610 AUTO DA FÉ 31 accused witches, 11 burned
                                        20 recant (penance: sambenito)

        1611  SUPREMA: central council of Spanish Inquisition
                  sends FRA ALONSO SALAZAR to proclaim an

     EDICT OF GRACE: 5,000 accusations of witchcraft against others
                  plus almost 2,000 self-accusations of w/c, most from children -
            1,802 w/c confessions, including 1400 children ages 7-14 

     1613 Debate within Suprema:  Salazar as skeptic vs.
             Hard-liners (Alonso Beccera and Juan de Valle)

        1614: Suprema instructions on witchcraft:
                      victory for skeptic Salazar:
                      "There were neither witches nor bewitched
                      until they were written and talked about."

LOGROÑO—Spanish city south of Navarre. Conducts major witch trial between 1609-1614, close to 7,000 cases.
Initial denunciations come from a French young servant girl who had been in France during deLancre’s trials. She
claimed to have been at the Sabbath and seen many people there, starts naming names. Local official 1609, Spain
“These witches who have fled from France and invaded our realm are numerous, we fear they will infect our realm.”

Local people suspicious of the French Basques who are pouring into their region=situation of great instability, directly
related to the French events: older people do not even know what the Sabbath is; traditional ideas of witchcraft limited
to maleficium; new idea spread by refugees from deLancre and by sermons of local priests.

Spanish Inquisition alarmed, sends out preachers to combat this “sect of witches”—sermons,
Edicts read in churches, public recantations all spread the witch panic.

Chronology of events—

1609 Spanish Inquisition begins investigation into witchcraft in Navarre, extreme local hostility to suspected witches,
who are in danger of being lynched—many attacked with stones, houses burned down; vigilante action demands intervention
of authorities, who are however cautious. Last Spanish execution for witchcraft in 1526, no real witch panic except this one.

Gustav Henningsen, The Witches Advocate

Spread of witch panic—initial beliefs=maleficium

  1. Rumors from France, travelers and refugees tell of burnings, diabolical witchcraft theory spreads.
    Many went to see the burnings, hear sermons.
  2. Sermons, auto da fe, sponsored by Spanish Inquisition. Logrono 30,000 attend auto da fe of 1610.
  3. Collective dreaming—many people, especially children, dream they are at witches’ Sabbath;
    epidemic of stereotyped dreaming—they tell each other dreams.
    Salazar: “There were neither witches nor bewitched until they were talked and written about.”
    Prescription: “silence and discretion”
  4. Dreams of Sabbath lead to accusations.

Basic pattern:
                   A. Indoctrination (recent)
                     B. Stereotyped dreams
                      C. Forced confessions—prison, torture

Edict of Grace plays into popular hysteria—accomplished sermons give her ideas, detail.

1610 AUTO DA FE in Logroño   =ACT OF FAITH

-Characteristic Spanish Institution, common during Spanish persecutions of heretics.
-Public “act of faith” in which some people are reconciled to church, others are burned.
-This one took two days: 31 accused witches, 11 burned, 20 recant (would have to wear heretics robes);
other participants accused of other heresies.
1611 Temporary halt to proceedings because of spreading accusations and panic.

Central tribunal of Spanish Inquisition (SUPREMA) upset by severity of witch trials,
sends FRA ALONSO SALAZAR on a fact finding mission.
He is given an Edict of Grace to take to the population—
Edict of Grace=traditional answer of Spanish Inquisition to mass outbreak of heresy,
all those who report themselves within time limit set by edict would be promised exemption |from confiscation of property.

During 1611, Salazar travels throughout the Basque lands, with the Edict of Frace, taking local depositions and denunciations
(no trials, has to report back to central Inquisition).

Salazar’s findings— almost 7,000 total of persons named
1,802 confessions to witchcraft under Edict of Grace (1,384 from children 7-14 years old)
5,000 accusations against persons who did not denounce themselves

1612—read from Salazar’s report

Evidence covers 11,000 pages—processing it takes a year and a half back in Madrid.
Note slow process

1613—Suprema has to decide what to do with the 5,000 accused people—opinions divided.

  1. Alonso de Becerra, Juan de Valle urge immediate prosecution of all 5,000 cases
  2. Salazer—urges caution and leniency, report to Suprema in 1611, landmark in history of witchcraft.
    Accused by Becerra and Valle of being in league with Devil.
    See Salazar’s deposition, Kors and Peters & on handout

Most striking part of Salazar’s position is refusal to accept confessions.

Becerra and Valle’s comments—Becerra and Valle accept reality of Sabbath (aquelarre), their position reinforced by fact that
confessions are in agreement with each other as well as with the major authorities on demonology.

Read—Salazar’s critique

-possible explanation in Auto de fe, sermons, Edict of Faith which describes so many details, with beliefs.

Salazar recommends all accused should be pardoned because innocent.
See Kors and Peters selection #39 (last page)

1614 all cases dismissed. Following Salazar’s report, Suprema issues instructions on witchcraft.
Salazar’s skepticism enshrined in Inquisitorial practice, caution and leniency advised.

Victims of 1610 posthumously rehabilitated.

Witchcraft still considered a crime, but new rules of evidence end up rejecting whole of testimony as delusion—
almost impossible to get witchcraft accusations in Spain. No further executions for witchcraft in Spain by Inquisition.
Replaced by trials for superstition, (like Italy).
(in Castile, no witches ever burned) Again, border area, greater stress (cf. France)

Secular courts continue to press for witch trials, and greater severity in punishment of witches—
Inquisition responds with “Edict of Silence” when such accusations occur. Lower courts press for trials, in some case bringing cases to court.
Salazar: “There were neither witches nor bewitched until they were written and talked about.”

Direct intervention of Suprema required to stop such cases, not always successful. Burgos 1621,
eight witches burned at Pancorbo before Inquisition able to intervene on jurisdictional grounds.

Report of Spanish Inquisitor Fra Alonso de Salazar to the Suprema of the Spanish Inquisition on the Logrono Witchcraft Cases (1612)

            (excerpts; see also selection in Kors and Peters #39)

Salazar: My colleagues are wasting their time in maintaining that the more theoretical and complex aspects of this can be properly understood only by the witches, since in the event witchcraft has to be dealt with by judges who are not members of the sect….It is not very helpful to keep asserting that the Devil is capable of doing this or that….nor is it useful to keep saying that the learned doctors of the church state that the existence of witchcraft is certain. Nobody doubts this.

The real question is: are we to believe that witchcraft occurred in a given situation simply because of what the witches claim? NO. It is clear that the witches are not to be believed, and that the judges should not pass sentence on anyone, unless the case can be proven by external and objective evidence sufficient to convince everyone who hears it. And who can accept the following: that a person can frequently fly through the air and travel a hundred leagues in an hour; that a woman can get out through a space not big enough for a fly; that a person can make himself invisible; that he can be in a river or in the sea and not get wet; or that he can be in bed and at the sabbat at the same time; and that a witch can turn herself into the shape she fancies, be it housefly or raven? Indeed these claims go beyond all human reason and may even pass the limits of the powers permitted to the Devil by God.

Reply of Inquisitors Alonso de Becerra y Holquin and Juan de Valle Alvarado:

We marvel that he tries to insinuate that the majority of the witches’ confessions and everything else that emerges from the visitation are dreams and fantasies, for it is clear that the tricks, intrigues and contrivances of the Devil have been powerful and strong enough to blind the understanding of many people. All of this, naturally, has allowed the Devil better to protect his witches.

Reply of Salazar:

In order to resolve the contradictions which emerge from the confessions, my cholleagues divide the defendants into three categories: those of good, bad and indifferent confessions. We have, however, no method or rule which allows us to evaluate each confession other than the arbitrary one that my colleagues have used, and refer to in their report. Thus the note of ‘bad’ is given to some confessions which another judge might call good, and vice versa.

On the career of Salazar, see Gustav Henningsen, The Witches’ Advocate (1980)