1811: Barbara Zdunk, the last witch (sort of)

1 comment August 21st, 2015 Headsman

Barbara Zdunk was executed on this date in 1811 in the Prussian city Rößel (today the Polish city Reszel).

Zdunk is the chronologically latest candidate for the elusive distinction of “the last witch execution in Europe”. Devastating fires that hit Reszel in 1806 and 1807 activated her neighbors’ suspicions of Zdunk witchery; however, enlightened Prussia had dispensed with its witch-burning laws long before the 19th century so Zdunk must have been formally prosecuted simply as an arsonist — whatever the superstitions animating that charge. The idea was that she caused the conflagration by torching the house of her faithless fiance.

Reszel Castle, the 14th century citadel whose dungeon entombed Ms. Zdunk for a couple of years prior to her execution, is today an atmospheric hotel, allegedly haunted by spirit of its famous former inhabitant.


Reszel Castle. (cc) image by Leszek Kozlowski.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 19th Century,Arson,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Execution,Germany,History,Milestones,Poland,Prussia,The Supernatural,Witchcraft,Women

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