Thursday, July 31, 2008

Bamberg - Torture

Between 1626 and 1633, by conservative estimates, 600 to 900 witches were killed in Bamberg as part of a particularly intense outbreak of catholic persecution during the thirty years war.

Though this was happening all over Europe, as far as I know, Bamberg was unique in having a special building in which suspects were detained, examined – usually under torture – and finally send to death by burning. That was the ‘Malefizhaus’ or ‘Drudenhaus’ or ‘Hexenhaus’ (witch house) erected in 1627 by Bishop Johann Georg II Fox of Dornheim and demolished in the year 1635.

This house was nothing but a torture jail in a church. Hundreds of innocent citizens of Bamberg were brutally tortured in this building. Thanks to the detailled plan of Mathew Merian or Peter Isselburg we can see the complex architecture, the rich engravings and the plan.

It was large and massive, with an image of Justice over the entrance and the Vergilian line:
« Discite justitiam moniti et non temnere divos » while tablets on either side of the portal bore the significant text I Chron., ix,8-9, and its translation.

The torture chamber was separate but connected by a walled cout, and a brook ran under it. There was also a chapel building. The number of prisoners that it would accomodate may be guessed from the provision accounts, which show that they were usually thirtysix confined at a time. But it was by no means the total for the province; for Zeil, where cruel persecussion occured, must have had a similar smaller building, and there were such in Hallstadt, Kronach, Eichstätt and other places.

The prisoners or her friends had to furnish all necessaries such as beds and beddings, utensils, and so on. At the time of arrest a minut and comprehensive inventory was made of all possessions of the accused, with valuations of everything, all money and debts dues.

The confiscations which ordinarily ensued became so oppressive that the Emperor Ferninand II, whose attention was called to it by complaints, expressly forbade it to the Bamberg Prince-Bishop.


Mark said...

The tablets either side of the door would have translated as;
8 Ibneiah son of Jeroham; Elah son of Uzzi, the son of Micri; and Meshullam son of Shephatiah, the son of Reuel, the son of Ibnijah.

9 The people from Benjamin, as listed in their genealogy, numbered 956. All these men were heads of their families

Is that right? That sounds kind of pointless...

Wendy said...

Having read an interpretation of the inscription of the tablets elsewhere, I believe it comes from I Kings 9 v8-9: “And this house will become a heap of ruins. Everyone passing by it will be astonished and will hiss, and they will say, 'Why has the LORD done thus to this land and to this house?' Then they will say, 'Because they abandoned the LORD their God who brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt and laid hold on other gods and worshiped them and served them. Therefore the LORD has brought all this disaster on them.'”

Wendy said...

And the Vergilian line is roughly, “Being admonished, learn justice and despise not the gods” (Vergil—Æneid. VI. 620.)

stevie said...

This website is the best one regarding 'Hexenhaus' that I have ever seen. It seems to me that Hexenhaus was evil personified... forerunner of the Concentration camps, and one of the most powerful icons of the diabolical inquisition. By websites such as this, by learning the names of the murdered, we can bring them some kind of justice. History vindicates them, and history condemns those who facilitated the building of such an evil place for their own material gain and genocidal religious doctrine. Hexenhaus - Hell on earth..... Bless the dead and be kind to all witches !