1590: Anne Pedersdotter, Norwegian witch

1 comment April 7th, 2011 Headsman

The most famous witchcraft execution in Norwegian history took place on this date in 1590, with the burning of Anne Pedersdotter.

Pedersdotter (English Wikipedia entry | Norwegian) was the wife of Lutheran minister Absalon Pedersson Beyer (Norwegian link), a reformist theologian in Bergen.

Anne may have become a target of her prominent husband’s enemies; she was first implicated for witchcraft in 1575 when her husband’s uncle dropped dead, clearing the way for Absalon to take his place as bishop.

While she repelled that round of allegations, Absalon himself soon followed his kin into the great hereafter, leaving his widow a bit shorter on political pull. She lived on as a near-hermit, forever shadowed by the intimation of infernal intercourse.

In 1590, Anne’s neighbors, and maid, accused her again; her fate was sealed when a forbidding storm broke during her trial. (So says Witch Hunts in the Western World)

Anne Pedersdotter’s execution has become a literary staple in Norway, with a (highly dramatized) play (available free online here) itself re-stylized into other notable cultural products — such as Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer‘s 1943 Vredens Dag (Day of Wrath) …

… and two different operas, Edvard Fliflet Braein‘s Anne Pedersdotter, in Norwegian; and, Ottorino Respighi‘s more conventionally Italian-language La Fiamma:

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 16th Century,Arts and Literature,Burned,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Execution,Famous,History,Norway,Public Executions,Witchcraft,Women

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