Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: doi:10.22028/D291-23609
Title: Flights of (in)fancy: the child-witches of Salzburg
Other Titles: Geistige Höhenflüge des Kindesalters: die Kinderhexen Salzburgs
Author(s): Nifl Heim, Nordian
Language: English
Year of Publication: 2010
SWD key words: Hexenprozess
Free key words: Kinderhexen
DDC notations: 940 History of Europe
Publikation type: Dissertation
Abstract: The "Zauberer-Jackl-trials", which took place in the archbishopric of Salzburg from 1675 to 1690 belong to the few Early Modern mass witch trials with children as the accused: roughly two thirds of the accused were either children or young adults from the beggar stratum, and most of them were executed. The legal process was focused on finding a so-called "Zauberer Jackl", i.e Jackl the Sorcerer, an alleged archmagus reputed for having apprenticed the children to the devil. The fact that this person, who the contemporaries believed was Jakob Koller, son of a criminal beggar woman, was never captured by the authorities earned Jackl the Sorcerer mythical status in the Alpine region. On the basis of the well preserved protocols of the trial held both at the local archbishopric courts and at the Grand Aulic Court in Salzburg, the study analyzes the confessions of the child-witches with an aim of exploring the fantasies formulated in the interrogation context. Theory-wise, the study deals with the evaluation of ego documents, considering the complexities of human memory and the trickiness of communication. The argumentation implies that the psychological fathoming of sorcery-related fantasies functions should be sought on three levels (the experienced / the theologically construed / the childly-adolescent imaginary). In this respect, the most recent results of several humanistic disciplines are used. Introducing the neuropsychological perspective the author examines both Early Modern autobiographies and modern scientific studies of habitual distortion of memory i.e. false memories. Phenomena typical of mass witch trials, such as cross contamination and mythomaniac tendencies are heavily emphasized, with the help of the few available works devoted to the problem of children as witnesses. The discussion about developmental psychology affinities for the missing parent i.e. the projections derived therefrom (most of which is to be recognized in the Sabbath reports evident in the Salzburg protocols) is supplemented by results from recent studies about the resilience of children and adolescents and about "adult development". The issue of fantasy creation is also examined from a wider philosophically-psychological perspective. Part I contains analyses of forty cases of interrogatoria of individuals involved in this mass trial. The study attempts to present the course of the interrogatories in an "interactive" way. It is in the courtroom that the sorcery drama takes place and it is here that fantastic scenarios arise, only to be modelled according to the pragmatic necessities of the interrogatory questionnaires. The dialectic process taking place between the judges and the accused is in each individual case differently configured. The figures of Jackl and the Devil (two regular male protagonists of the confessions) tend to reconfirm, in the eyes of the court, the subversive potential of the heretically perceived beggar group of children. However, within this narrative which reconstitutes itself throughout the trial, the child-witches and -warlocks are not only passive participants. In their capacity of informants they are rather dominant, although not all of them make use of this possibility to the same extent. Individual cases are treated in their chronological order, ideally beginning with the first interrogatory held at a local court, up until the last hearing at the Grand Aulic Court in Salzburg. In Part II the author examines a selection of the most frequent motives, not only the 'standard' topics of witchcraft (weather magic, maleficent spells etc) but also facettes specific to this particular trial (e.g. magical zapping of animals and humans out of nowhere, host desecration, scatological notions, sodomy, homosexuality and bestiality, manifestations of emblematic figures of Evil). The study attempts to make the most of the wealth of multiple and (from the point of the psychological truth) equally trustworthy scenarios with which the sources abound. These scenarios offer insight into circumstances from the personal life of the beggar children (e.g. sibling rivalry, tense relationship with the stepmother etc).The necessity of dealing with certain topoi warrants introduction of additional written and visual sources, such as curiosity literature, Early Modern literary renderings of bandits i. e. gang leaders, but also modern counterparts of similar (anti)heroic figures. Where needed, brief philological speculations are made, some of which assuming a psycholinguistic bent. The analysis goes as far as recognizing the historical subject as having a Jungian capacity to intuitively grasp deep-seated archetypal structures.
Die Zauberer-Jackl-Prozesse, die im Erzbistum Salzburg von 1675 bis 1690 stattfanden, gehören zu den wenigen Massenkinderhexenprozessen der frühneuzeitlichen Geschichte. Ungefähr zwei Drittel der im Rahmen dieser mehrjährigen Hexenjagd angeklagten Personen waren Kinder bzw. Jugendliche aus der Vagantenschicht. Im Fokus des rechtlichen Verfahrens stand der sog. Zauberer Jackl, ein angeblicher ‚Erzmagus‘, der Bettelkinder für den Teufel rekrutiert haben soll. Die Tatsache, dass dieser Mann nie verhaftet wurde, trug zu seinem mythischen Status im Alpenland bei. Anhand der gut erhaltenen Protokolle zu den am Salzburger Hofgericht sowie auf Lokalgerichtsebene geführten Verhören analysiert der Autor die Aussagen der Kinderhexen, mit dem Ziel, die im Kontext der Verhöre entstandenen Phantasien näher zu untersuchen.
Link to this record: urn:nbn:de:bsz:291-scidok-48840
Advisor: Behringer, Wolfgang
Date of oral examination: 23-Jun-2010
Date of registration: 13-Jul-2012
Faculty: P - Philosophische Fakultät
Department: P - Geschichte
Collections:SciDok - Der Wissenschaftsserver der Universität des Saarlandes

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