December 24th, 2012 Headsman
On this date in 1635, the aged cunning-woman Hester Jonas was beheaded as a witch in the city of Neuss.
She was around 64 years of age when longstanding rumors of her witchiness triggered her arrest in the Hexenprozesse-crazed atmosphere of the Thirty Years War. The city’s mayor came right out and accused her of taking the devil into her bed, signaling that Jonas would have a difficult time escaping the scaffold.
Although the accused denied the charges at proceedings in November, ten hours naked in a spike-studded torture chair secured the customary confession — in this case, to fornicating in the turnip field with a black man named “Hans Beelzebub” who gave her magical powers. (Source, in German)
She managed to escape confinement the very night after she made these “admissions” but was re-taken, and her attempts to repudiate her previous self-incriminations flogged out of her.
After the executioner struck off her head, burned her body, and scattered her ashes to the four winds, her husband got the executioner’s bill for 65 Thalers.
20th century Dusseldorf poet Peter Maiwald wrote a “Ballade von der Hester Jonas” in honor of our date’s victim. The German band Cochise released an interpretation of this ballad on its 1979 album Smoke Signals.
Also on this date
- 1774: William Ferguson, redcoat
- 1715: William Ainslie, Edinburgh Castle betrayer
- 1941: Eight Russian POWs at Flossenburg
- Unspecified Year: The Robbers of Nordenshaw
- 2008: Nine hanged in Iran
- 1705: John "Half-Hanged" Smith Half-Hanged
- 1684: Baillie of Jerviswood