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Between the Devil and the HostImagining Witchcraft in Early Modern Poland$
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Michael Ostling

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199587902

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199587902.001.0001

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A Winding Road to the Stake

A Winding Road to the Stake

Chapter:
(p.61) 3 A Winding Road to the Stake
Source:
Between the Devil and the Host
Author(s):

Michael Ostling

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199587902.003.0004

The road from suspicion to execution was neither short nor straight. A woman could be suspected for years without ever being accused, and once accused, she might not be convicted. This chapter traces the path from suspicion of witchcraft, through accusation, to village trials, town trials, dunking (the water ordeal), torture, appellate justice, intercession, verdict, sentencing, to execution. The chapter also examines the phenomenon of denunciation (accusations made under torture), and shows that this usually did not lead to chain-reaction trials or witch-panics because courts often could not compel denounced witches to stand before them.

Keywords:   road to the stake, appellate justice, suspicion, accusation, dunking, village trials, torture, execution, denunciation

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