Berry, is an historical province in France. Having been the capital of Bourges. The inhabitants are known as Berrichonne. This region has a very rich history of witches, dating from 1450 – 1700. These traditions of “evil practices”, shift-shaping and the foulest forms of magic were there can be no doubt were being practiced extensively throughout the countryside at that era. Three notorious witches being, la Cr�ancier, la Ducatel, la Loysel and a warlock named Picault.
In Berry the practice of witchcraft in the middle ages was subsient to small isolated villages. The country people are very superstitious. They have strange creatures called “brittes”, or a dangerous pack of wolves that poison the cattle. “Brittes” wore wild boar skins or wolves skins on their shoulders, and they haunt the countryside; There is a head “wolf” who commands the pack and they dance in the light of the moon.
Witch Trial in France
Witchcraft in France can be dated as early as 1275. An inquisition was created at this time. The trials of the inquisition led to some being banned from the area or worse yet beheadings. Trials occurred between 1275 – 1400. The majority of the early trials were of Bishops and aristocrats, who were accused of using sorcery against the King Louis X. In 1390 authorities became involved with the inquisition, bringing the cases before a court of law. Beginning during the 15th century, many accused saw the death penalty, it was reported that more than 100 women and 50 men were burned alive for being a witch. This happened between 1428 – 1450.
The inquisition was responsible for a witch-hunt that resulted from the torture of several tortured accused witches, who in turn confessed the identities of other supposed to be witches, charging them guilty. The accused were then forced to walk down the street in clothing associated with heretics, they were then burned alive. The inquisition also had a habit of tricking people into other confessions by promising that if they cooperated they would be set free.
Practicing medicine at this time without a permit could also put you into the category of being a witch. The case of Felix Thorel, who claimed to have been influenced by a white witch. He believed he was possessed with powers to create unexplainable occurrences and was put on trial for being a witch. After a trial his powers could not be proven, so he was allowed to go free.�����������������������������������������������
A well known trial in this area was that of Madame Desle, she was accused of being a witch. Her trial was brought upon by the inquisition. The importance of this trial proved how powerful the inquisition was. The case was built upon gossip and he said/she said. Accusations brought up by her neighbors claiming that she was the cause of their misfortune. As a result she was hung and her body burned.
Parliament was also used in witch trials, where the law was used to prove guilt. Torture was used because they believed that the spirit of a person could be seen through this method. The case of Jehenne de Brigue who was accused of using witchcraft to heal another. Jehan de Ruilly was quite ill and it was believed that he was ill because of a spell cast upon him by a lover. The accused denied being a witch, but confessed to using charms, forgetting to say the Lord’s Prayer. It took a bit of time but she finally admitted to being a witch, during her sentencing she told� authorities that she was pregnant. THIS WAS NEVER PROVEN; This is when the torture began she was fastened to a ladder where she confessed to helping to kill Ruilly with the help of his wife. Both women were bound together and burned.
So if you are in Berrichonne stop by the famous witchcraft museum located on an ancient farm dating to the XIX century. Witchcraft is part of everyday life in Berrichonne.
Written by Karen Morfu, Copyright 2009