Witchcraft trial in the village of Osowo in 1686

[Source: State Archives of Bydgoszcz, Files of the town of Łobżenica, ref. no. 11, cards no. 458-462r.]

In 1925, “Lud,” a periodical of the Polish Ethnological Society (issued until present) published a paper by Kazimierz Sochaniewicz, delivered to the 12th Convention of Physicians and Natural Scientists in Warszawa, in which he called for a systematic publication of source materials related to witchcraft trials, which took place in the Commonwealth, in order to “allow for systematic and organised work in the field of demonology, witchcraft, magic, bewitching and similar practices which should shed light onto beliefs and prejudices related to interpretation of the so-called supernatural powers.”1

The appeal by K. Sochaniewicz echoed among historians and ethnographers who – mainly in “Lud” – began to publish their texts and source materials related to witchcraft and witchcraft trials.2 However, despite the increase in the number of the published source materials related to witch-hunt in the territory of the Commonwealth, there is still no full synthetic study of this issue. The work of Bogdan Baranowski, published in 1952, was based upon a too narrow source basis, since the author used only those sources referring to the territory of Greater Poland proper, i.e., the Voivodeships of Poznań and Kalisz.3 Similarly, the recently published work of Małgorzata Pilaszek does not provide answers to many questions.4

Therefore, the nearly hundred years old appeal by K. Sochaniewicz is still valid. Hence, we offer below the records of a witchcraft trial, conducted in 1686 by the court of Łobżenica in the village of Osowo, located in Kraina. This text is, in my opinion, even more worth publishing, because data about the majority of trials, which took place in the early modern Commonwealth are rather brief. Here we can find not only information about the course of the trial, but also quite extensive testimony of the accused women, as well as the sentence.

The trial which took place in 1686 in Osowo (then belonging to the parish of Zakrzewo) was conducted by the municipal court brought in from Łobżenica, the biggest urban centre in Kraina.5 During the times of the Nobility Republic the administration as well as jurisdiction in Łobżenica was governed by the rules of the Magdeburg law, introduced by the location privilege from 1314. Although the town was in private ownership, it had a town council led by the burgomaster and the jury with the judicial mayor. The judicial mayor presided over the jury and was an elected official. His duties included first of all the jurisdiction over the inhabitants of the town. At the end of the 17th c. the range of his duties was extended on adultery and witchcraft.6 The registry of these cases was defined by the ordination from 1693. It comes out from it that there had earlier been a mixed mayor-burgomaster court, which appeared to be harmful for the town. Therefore, a clear distinction of competences was introduced. The burgomaster issued the sentences on Tuesdays, and the judicial mayor with the jury – on Fridays.7

The fact that Łobżenica had its own executioner was essential for the conduct of witchcraft trials by the municipal court. This post must have functioned long before 1683,8 when the executioner’s duties were newly defined in the municipal ordination. His duties then included the execution of sentences of death, corporal punishments, torturing the accused and expelling convicts from the town. The ordination also imposed more duties on him, i.e., cleaning out the carrion and catching homeless dogs.9 The house of the executioner in Łobżenica was situated behind the Złotowska Gate, on the way to the place of executions, named “God’s Passion.”10

In the second half of the 17th c. the court in Łobżenica conducted around thirty witchcraft trials. We are in possession of detailed data on twenty-seven of them. The state of preservation of the source basis concerning the remaining ones does not allow for a closer study.11 One of them was the trial conducted in the village of Osowo.

On 17 June 1686, the court in Łobżenica, composed of Michał Szoll and two jurors, Marcin Wysocki and Jan Melka, began the trial in which two female inhabitants of Osowo, Regina Dręczyna (Zdręczyna) and Anna Piekutka, were accused of doing harmful witchcraft. The plaintiffs were Grzegorz, an innkeeper from Osowo (he accused Dręczyna) and Jakub Kołodziej (he accused Piekutka).12 In this case, as well as in a couple of other trials conducted by the court in Łobżenica, it is interesting that the judges did not order the so-called trial by drowning, as it was done by many other courts. On the contrary, the women who were  accused of witchcraft, asked for a chance to prove their innocence by the trial of water. It can therefore be seen that the belief that the water “would clean the innocent” was widespread among the population of Kraina, same as in almost entire Europe.13 The court agreed, but the hopes placed in that attempt by the women failed, because, as it was noted down, the women “were swimming like ducks in the water.”14

The next day after the trial by drowning, Regina Dręczyna asked the court via the village mayor not to be given into the hands of the executioner, “promising to voluntarily confess all her wrongdoings and reveal and give out her accomplices in witchcraft.”15 The court began the proceedings and the plaintiffs were heard as first. They started with taking the ceremonial oath, in which they stressed that they charged both women not out of any obstinacy, but out of harm they suffered due to witchcraft done by the women. Dręczyna was interrogated next. She voluntarily confessed that she had been to the “bald mountain”16 for four times and it always happened on “new Thursdays.” The place was situated on a sandy mountain in the rye fields, outside the village of Osowo in the direction of the mill. The accused woman named a dozen of women, including Anna Piekutka and Dorota Nabzdziszka, as witches. Dręczyna pleaded to be in possession of her own “unclean spirit,” named Kuba, who had been “imposed” on her three years before that by her own sister, called Gerusza, who had anyway already been burned at the stake for doing witchcraft.17 Dręczyna was married to that devil’s servant and the ceremony was held on the “bald mountain” by an old Tomasz from Osowo. With that unclean spirit she lived as wife with her husband.18

Anna Piekutka, when brought to the court, did not want to voluntarily plead to anything, claiming to be innocent. She was therefore given to the executioner for the first round of tortures, during which she did not plead to anything, either. However, before the tortures were commenced, the two women had been confronted and Dręczyna told Piekutka “to her face” that the other woman had been to the “bald mountain” for several times and had been eating and drinking there.

Dręczyna was not saved from the tortures by her voluntarily pledging to wrongdoings. The court, however, ordered the master executioner to “treat her quite kindly and gently.”19 During the tortures she confirmed what she had previously testified and admitted that she had caused some harm to various people. Among these, she said that she hand strangled an ox owned by a wealthy peasant named Kloska in Głomsk by “letting a wolf pass by” and that she had damaged the garden owned by Grzegorz, the innkeeper from Osowo. Dręczyna named Piekutka and Nabzdziszka as witches, but she also called the same way the mother of the wife of the plaintiff, the innkeeper Grzegorz and the wife of the other plaintiff Jakub Kołodziej.20

Taken once again to the tortures, Anna Piekutka testified that „her master is the devil, he is old and grey-haired and is called Michał and is dressed in a German fashion.”21

On the same day, 17 June 1686 in the afternoon, Dorota Nabzdziszka was „brought to the court,” as the person who “had long ago been tried by tortures, but had escaped.”22 She asked for being tried by water. The judges complied with that request, and many people gathered to see her floating on the surface and not sinking. On the following day, 18 June, Nabzdziszka was once again brought to the court. As she had already been earlier accused of witchcraft by four plaintiffs and also then two of them, Stanisław and Bartosz, named her as witch, she was given into the hands of the executioner. She did not, however, want to plead to witchcraft, but testified that she had “committed the sin of impurity and carnal relation” with her late brother Maciek.23

That very day in the afternoon, Anna Piekutka who was “brought to the border and put down on the ladder for the third round of tortures” testified that she had used to be together with Zdręczyna on the “bald mountain,” where she ate cakes and bread and drank beer, wine and vodka. She also used to dance there with her devil, and her duties included washing the dishes and sweeping. Tortures were stopped and she was confronted with Nabzdziszka and Piekutka, who then started to reproach the other woman that she had been to the “bald mountain” wearing green dress and that she had had two devil servants. Nabzdziszka said then to Piekutka that “if you tell this about me I will tell about your daughter then.”24 Marasza, the daughter of Piekutka, escaped from the village having heard that. Nabzdziszka was tortured but she did not want to plead to anything, so she was sent back to prison.

The judges issued the verdict, in which they sentenced Regina Zdręczyna and Anna Piekutka to death and ordered to burn them. As both women were the subjects of the nobility, the court sent the sentence to be approved by the owner of the property, Maciej Działyński,25 who approved the sentence on behalf of himself as well as his brothers.26 Concerning Dorota Nabzdziszka, however, he ordered to take her to the third round of tortures, mainly because of the accusation of having sexual relationship with her brother. The tortures took place on 10 July 1686. She still did not want to admit being a witch, so Anna Piekutka and Regina Zdręczyna were “brought in.” Both women “expostulated with her to her face” and said that “we die and go to the judgement of God because you ate, drank and danced on the ‘bald mountain,’ sat on a chair there and have two servants.”27

In spite of the fact that she did not plead guilty during the tortures, the court decided to sentence Nabzdziszka to be burned at the stake. This was done because she was accused of witchcraft for the second time. Furthermore, Piekutka and Zdręczyna who were going for death did not want to take their words back, claiming that she was as much a witch as they were.28 In such a way the court in Łobżenica broke the contemporary law, according to which the person who endured three rounds of tortures and did not plead guilty was to be set free. We do not know when the sentence was executed. 


Actum in villa Ossowko29 dicta praesentibus spectabilibus ac famatis Michaele Szoll, assesore officii proconsularis iurato, Martino Wysocki et Joanne Melka, scabinis iuratis Lobzenensibus, die 17 mensis Junii anno Domini 1686 [= Done at the village of Ossowko, [based upon] what has been said in presence of the notable and famous: Michał Szoll, sworn assessor to the proconsular office; Marcin Wysocki and Jan Melka, sworn wardens of Łobżenica, on the 17th day of the month of June, 1686]

The fam[ous] office of Łobzenica [sic][,] deputed and summoned to Ossowko ad causam et cognitionem [= to the cause and cognition] of the accused[,] that is, Regina Dręczyna and Anna Piekutka, de ipso mane actu et supra [= in the procedure of this very morning and prior thereto] the complaints quoted by the instigators against the aforementioned women[,] admonishing them iteratis vicibus [= often and repeatedly] so that, without a further procedure and harshness of the law, should they be guilty of those evil deeds, of which they have been accused by their instigators, through all the complaint items having been read-out thereunto, so that they voluntarily admit their guilt, since the instigators are ready to swear those same ones as regards the evil deeds of witchcraft [sic!, syntactically and overall]. Which accused women, neither knowing to [= of] any thing, nor voluntarily admitting, forti animo [strong-spiritedly] negated, but out of their conjecture and good will of theirs, requested for the water so that they be drowned. Of which the officium [i.e. office] not conjecturing, but indeed considering this drowning [with respect] to those ones, what in fact would they understood by this drowning. Which ones responded that should they have gone down to the ground[,] then they’ll be a good one, and if I’d be swimming[,] then I’ll be an evil one. Upon therefore their great request and demand did the office admit the drowning, which women in manifesto conspectu turba hominum [] did swim like ducks upon the water.

Eodem die ante meridiem [= On that same day before midday][,] the drowning over, Regina Zdręczyna [sic] asked the office through the burgomaster so her sickly body not be handed unto the master [i.e. executioner] for torment, promising that she would voluntarily confess all her evil deeds and disclose and render apparent the witchcrafts of the complices [cooperators/associates/participators] to her.

As the court [i.e. trial] hath thus been opened die edoem [= on that same day], the first instigator[,] Grzegorz, the innkeeper of Ossowko, complaining against Regina Zdręczyna, with Jakub Kołodziej, also from Ossowka [sic], complaining against Anna Piekutka, swore in sequenti rotha [= by means of the following oath formula] that they were guilty and skillfull of witchcraft.

[“]I[,] Grzegorz, [and] I[,] Jakub, hereby swear through the name of God Almighty, One in the Holy Trinity, the nominated [= aforenamed] fairs Regina Dręczyna [sic] and Anna Piekutka, as we complained against them before the court, then now again do we swear these same [to be] guilty and skillfull of evil acts of witchcraft[,] and this not owing to any obstinacy but for the reason of our wrongs, which aforementioned women are we by any means willing to relinquish, but promise hereby to finish these same till the end of death alone. So help us God the Lord and h[H]is s[S]on’s innocent torment.[”]

Following a jurament [= adjuration] executed upon voluntary inquisition, Regina Dręczyna deposed that she had four times been to Łysa-Góra30,[;] asked when that was, repl[ied she]: on new[-moon] Thursdays, this Łysa-Góra standing on a sandy mountain amidst ryes behind Ossowka [sic], as one goes toward the mill. She also deposed that Baranka, a woman, went together with her to Łysa-Góra now and then, and also Bruszka as well go at times to Łysa-Góra with her mother and daughter. Deposed Regina Dręczyna at the voluntary examination that Szotka, a woman, whose first-name is Zofka, and also Nabzdziszka as well [prob., go there too]. [sic] At ł[Ł]ysa-g[G]óra, there at times appear Koniarka, Piekutka’s daughter, first-name Marusza,[;] Dreika, Pasturka, the young Hanka. [As to] Anna Piekutka, the mother of Marusza’s, Regina Dręczyna voluntarily deposed that she hath now and then been to Łysa-Góra and sits higher-up there saying [i.e. as she said] than me, she hath gotten an old impure spirit of hers, and yet I am not aware of his name. Those all [individuals] hath Regina Dręczyna referred to upon voluntary inquisition.

And did Regina Dręczyna depose at the voluntary examination also that it had already been three years now that she hath had a spirit impure whose name is Kuba, he is dressed black Polish-style[,] saying that [i.e. as she said,] it was her middle sister to have this varlet delivered unto me, whom [= the said sister] hath been burnt already. The name of my sister was Gerusza and that varlet was long wandering around up until I accepted him. And did Regina Dręczyna depose also that she had abjured and dissworn God Almighty and the Extensive One. Asked who that Extensive One was, repl[ied she] that my varlet so named Virgin Mary, and he did insist [upon] me very much so that I doe abjure.

And Regina Dręczyna also deposed that she had got married to her varlet,[;] asked what sort of a marriage that was and what words [were uttered] at this marriage, repl[ied she] that everything [was uttered] backwards, not the way a priest would offer it. Asked who gives them the [i.e. officiated thereat], repl[ied she] that it was the old Tomas of Ossowka [sic] that spliced us, who with his wife, her name being Kaśka, and with his daughter, Katarzyna being her name, appears now and then at Łysa-Góra. And did Regina Dręczyna depose that she would hold intercourse with the impure spirit who was serving her, the way a wife would do with her husband, as he insisted [upon] her about this. Asked if the intercourse [was] such as with a husband, repl[ied she], no, as she hath got it cold.

Consequenter [= Subsequently], Anna Piekutka [was] brought for voluntary examenation [sic] before the Office, so that without torments she admitted her evil acts, since the instigators have lodged so great complaints upon her, which Anna Piekutka at the voluntary examination did not want to testify any single thing, but indeed, pronounced and held herself to be innocent.

Decretivit ergo officium [= Thus, the office decreed] [to take] Anna Piekutka ad prima tormenta [= to the first stage of torments], where Regina Dręczyna at first reminded Anna Piekutka straight that she had been at Łysa-Góra, having meals and drinks thereat. Piekutka asked Dręczyna where-on-earth that Łysa-Góra was. Replied Dręczyna, dost not thou really know that it is on the sands [as you go] toward the mill, amidst the rye. Which Anna Piekutka on the first torments deposed nothing at all, but indeed, pronounced and held herself to be innocent.

And hence, the office, in order to sue for even a greater truth, the accused Regina Dręczyna who on this same day after the drowning before the noon confessed at the voluntary examination her heavy sins committed against the Divine Majesty, then the office, endeavouring [to satisfy] the appropriate law, Regina Zdręczyna [sic] ad prima decretavit tormenta [i.e. decreed R.Z. to the first stage of torments]. Which Regina, once settled for the first torments, by the second means, whatever she deposed before the noon at the voluntary examination, all that she stated, beating her chest, and repeated sating that it was all true whatsoever I would once have voluntarily deposed. And Regina Zdręczyna also deposed, once released from the first tact of her torments, with whom the Office ordered the master [i.e. executioner] to deal favourably and mercifully enough, that across the other villages, such as in Głomsk, having let a wolf go, strangled an ox of a boor named Kłoska, and in Potulice did she do it to the master’s swine that [there were] ones that were dying and in [= among] the others that wolves were taking-off, saying that the master there was bad. Asked what a wolf that was, repl[ied she] that it was that one that was serving me, as he commanded me to be tasked with labours by myself. And also did Regina Zdręczyna deposed as well that unto Jajdzia at the Buczek[?] mill and in Lipka would she let a wolf onto the swine. What she also deposed was that she had spoilled the garden of Grzegorz, the Ossowko inn-keeper, and gave him such piece of advice so he sprinkled the garden with rotten wood, as they rub the wood, then the garden would be improved. And deposed she that not only had she done harm in swine unto her neighbours in Ossowka [sic] but unto herself as well, saying that my varlet would always demand work being done, not ever willing to stay idle.

And Regina Zdręczyna confirmed as well that Anna Piekutka would go with her now and then to Łysa-Góra, saying that I am going with this to God’s judgement that Piekutka would follow me now and then to Łysa-Góra and whatever I have testified voluntarily as well as out of the torments, I am dying for this that I should be willing to take no-one upon my soul, only the way I have once confessed. I also do not relinquish Dorota Nabzdziszka either, but indeed confirm that she was with us now and then at Łysa-Góra on new[-moon] Thursday. And Regina Zdręczyna testified as well that the Ossowko inn-keepers’ wife’s mother appears now and then there at Łysa-Góra, with her daughter too, and that wife’s mother did harm unto the innkeeper as they quarrelled with each other, but may the inn-keeper apologise to her, and then she should undo it to him,[;] she also deposed that a wheel-wrightess [poss., the wheelwright’s wife] from Ossowa [sic] hath now and then been with them there at Łysa-Góra.

Settled for the second torments, Anna Piekutka deposed that she had got a devil as her lord, a white-haired and old one, Michał being his name, and he walks the German style. Also she deposed that she had sent her varlet down ordering him to strangle the wheelwright’s cattle. And deposed she also that her varlet sits now and then at her hut so no-one can see him. He was sitting for the whole day of Tuesday in a larder-shelf, and then walking as an old cat. Asked where he was now, answered she that he hath not as-yet departed from me.

The aforenamed Dorota Nabzdziszka, who in quite a recent time had been sworn under the torment, but then escaped, was thus provided and brought along, on that same day in the afternoon, for the office to [exercise] the law [upon]. Which Dorota Nabzdziszka, out of her good will, requested and demanded that she be drowned. Then the office admitted that she be drowned, upon her request and demand. Which Nabzdziszka, to a gathering of many a person, swam on the water’s surface, and did not drown.

In crastinum de summo mane [= On the following day, early in the morning], Dorota Nabzdziszka was brought along before the office, who before not-a-long-time-ago was sworn upon torment by four men, that is, the instigators, and during the present criminal trial called de novo [anew] from Regina Zdręczyna, out of her evil deeds is [deemed] to be guilty and skillfull of witchcraft, hath now and then had meals and drinks at Łysa-Góra, of which Regina Zdręczyna overtly and safely reproaching her straight, was not willing to relinquish her, but all her testimonies hath she confirmed upon going to God’s judgement and reproached Nabzdziszka straight that you are the Great Lady of Łysa-Góra and they would sent carts to fetch you there. This same Dorota Nabzdziszka hath been sworn in rotha [= according to the following oath formula] once again by the instigators thus.

[“]I[,] Stanisław, [and] I[,] Bartosz, hereby swear [for] Dorota Nabzdziszka through the name of God Almighty, One in the Holy Trinity, who before not-a-long-time-ago was sworn upon torment by four men, that is, the instigators, and fled. We confirm [for] this same Dorota Nabzdziszka through our jurament [= adjuration] hereby that she is guilty of evil acts of witchcraft, and this not out of any obstinance but owing to her evil acts. Which Dorota Nabzdziszka are we by no means willing to relinquish but promise hereby to finish the same till the end of death alone. So help us God the Lord and h[H]is s[S]on’s innocent torment.[”]

Eodem die, scilicet 18 mensis Iunii de summa mane [i.e. On that same day, that is, 18th of the month of June, early in the morning], Dorota Nabzdziszka, then already sworn [for], is passed unto the master [i.e. executioner] for the first torments, who as for the evil deeds of witchcraft was not willing to depose under torment but a single thing, and declared herself innocent and unskillfull of any such. She did only confess a sin whereof the office had not examined her, that is, that together with her own brother, Maciek being his name, who is dead already, committed she the sin of impurity and carnal commerce, saying that God is presently punishing me for that.

Eodem die post meridiem [i.e. This same day, past the noon], Anna Piekutka, brought to the frontier and laid upon the rack in order to suffer her third and last torments, deposed that at she had now and then been at Łysa-Góra with Regina Dręczyna, having her meals and drinks there, bread, kołaczs [country circular-shaped breads/cakes], beer, wine, spirits. And did Anna Piekutka depose that her lord, whenever she’d tell him to do so, pasture[d] the cattle, followed the goats and strangled one of mine. Asked [how] many goats she had, repl[ied she], two, and had one strangled by him. Asked thereafter what she was doing at that Łysa-Góra, repl[ied she] that she danced with her lord. She also deposed that Nabzdziszka went with her now and then to Łysa-Góra,[;] asked what would she [i.e. Nabzdziszka] have done thereat, repl[ied she] that she’d be having her meals, drinks, and sitting on a chair. Asked subsequently what sort of varlets would Nabzdziszka have had, repl[ied she], she had two, one in redd and the other in cerulean-blue[,] and this is what I am saying not because of anger but truly and am ready to die of [= for] it. Asked what would she have done [there] herself, repl[ied she], I was washing-up the vessels and brushing-up. Asked whoever else hath ever been there at Łysa-Góra, repl[ied she], there is many appearing there at Łysa-Góra, they have beautiful crownes and black silk taffetas. Asked by what means hath she come to acquaintance with a devil, repl[ied she] that my varlet had come unto me in disguise of a kid and I drove him together with those mine to the sty, and then on he turned into a fellow. Asked whethre [he talked to her?] in Polish, repl[ied she], in Polish, in a cerulean-blue robe, and he promised to serve me. And deposed she too that she had departed from God once she assumed that varlet, saying that my varlet told me and insisted so I depart from God [the] L[ord] and accept him as a servant instead, promising me that I should be doing well in his company and whatever I might tell him to do, he offered to deliver. Asked whether she had held intercourse with him the way a wife and her husband do, repl[ied she] that I had laid three times with my varlet in a shed and had intercourse there, but he had it cold like ice. Also did Anna Piekutka depose that Nabzdziszka would have appeared at Łysa-Góra dressed in green raiment and Zdręczyna wore red raiment, and then on they [would] both put the raiment into a chest.

Released thereafter Anna Piekutka from the torments, one tact however being retained. Dorota Nabzdziszka, brought along to Piekutka, sitting there on the rack, the torments over yet, where Piekutka reminded Nabzdziszka straight, asayinga that you have been now and then at Łysa-Góra in a green robe, you have got two masters, one dressed red and the other cerulean-blue, dost not thou disown this, for I am ready to die for it, and said Nabzdziszka unto Piekutka, when you are saying things against me, then your daughter too shall be said things against. Which daughter of Anna Piekutka, her first name Marasza, escaped from Ossowka having heard this.

Dorota Nabzdziszka, laid upon the rack on that same day and hour for another suffering of the torments, did not want to admit any thing at all with regards to the evil deeds of witchcraft, saying that even though be disjointed along my veins, then I shall not say a thing, for I bnotb know nothing with regards to witchcraft. And thus she hath thitherto remained in ordinary prison, till instructed upon further on.

Decretum [The Decree]

Supra inquisitiones [= With respect to the inquisitions] of the accused women[,] tale. [= [it shall be decreed] as follows:] The office of Łobzenica [sic][,] have [scil. having] in front of their eyes confessata [= things [heretofore] confessed, i.e. testimony] of such salacious acts, that those who departed from God, their creator, and renounced h[H]is holy name, consorted with impure and cursed spirits and by their deeds of witchcraft with the same did harms unto people, through which divina offenditur Maiestas [= the Divine Majesty has been offended]. And therefore the officium Lobzenense [= Office of Łobżenica], having been summoned and drawn-over to these matters criminal, sticking to the d[D]ivine law as clearly described [in] Exodi 22 Cap. [= chapter of the Book of Exodus], which says maleficum ne patiaris vivere super terram [= wrong-doer cannot be borne to live on the earth], [that is,] so that evil-doer, and particularly whoever entertains with enchantment, not be admitted to live on the earth. Also being [i.e.: And this also] in line with the Saxon as well as Magdeburg laws, which laws, ob facinorum enormitatem [= due to the monstrousness of [their] criminal deeds/atrocities], instruct to severely punish such people, entertaining with enchantment, with fire. This office, having acceded to which laws, as they are clearly written down, overt [?; poss., referring to the testimony], through voluntary testimonies as well as tormental inquisitions, [having considered] the accused Regina Zdręczyna and Anna Piekutka [guilty and assigned them] to be put to death for their evil deeds committed of witchcraft having [been] deposed, hereby orders that they be burnt with fire lively [= alive], according to the appertaining and described law. Cum omni executione finali [= With the final execution in its entirety], so that this may be delivered through an executor of the sacrosanct justice, iustitia administrante [= the justice thus being administered].

cIn toto approbat: Lobzinense supra superique nominatas personas. [= Approved in its entirety [by the] aforesaid [office] of Łobżenica and the aforementioned renowned individuals.] Maciej Działyński m[anu] p[ropria] [= in his own hand]. By the name of myself and of my brethren.c

dAs [for the] part of Nabzdziszka, it is the will and command of RtHonourable our Benefactor that she be for the third time on the torments and albeit [= in the event] she hath not deposed, and those accused ones that have called her, should they claim [i.e. reassert what they have hitherto testified] and go to death with this, [then] she is to be defeated with that same decree and what is needed is that you be requesting her, that same one, whether she had not been fregnas[?] with that same defunct brother[,] and what the law instructs you to do[,] ye, the Right Honourable [Gentlemen], do proceed with it accordingly.d

Post latum decretum et approbationem Illustrissimae superioritatis decretii eiusdem, die 20 m[ensis] Junii [= This decree having been brought forth and approved by the Most Illustrious superior authority, as of the 20th day of the month of June], Dorota Nabzdziszka, provided for the third and last torments, was not willing to testify anything at all relative to evil acts of witchcraft, saying that [she was] unbeguilty [prob., she had not been guilty [of any such thing]] and I do not know any thing. Then, Regina Zdręczyna and Anna Piekutka, brought along, so thate they might reproach this straight unto Dorota Nabzdziszka, which Regina Zdręczyna and Anna Piekutka were monotonously [scil. in concert] saying to Dorota Nabzdziszka that we are not willing to forsake thee, but are dying for this, and to God’s judgement are going, that thou hast now and then at Łysa-Góra been having thy meals and drinks, and dancing, sitting in a chair and thou’st got two varlets.

Decretum [The Decree]

Supra [= As above,] Dorota Nabzdziszka, accused and twice sworn for, tale. [= [it shall be decreed] as follows:]

Therefore, the office of Łobzenica [sic][,] not being capable of investigating into any confession of witchcraft from Dorota Nabzdziszka, whether upon the first or upon the repeated torments, sends thereby unto the Most Illustrious superior authority, with all the confessates [= things [heretofore]confessed] and with the decree for the adjudged to a death of the fire, both Regina Zdręczyna and Anna Piekutka, for approbation, representing all the same as for Dorota Nabzdziszka that she is not willing to acknowledge of her evil acts whatsoever.

Having made it out from the confessates that Dorota Nabzdziszka[,] before not-a-long-time-ago, sworn-for by four or more instigators, suffered her torments while being tried, was not willing to acknowledge of anything as for herself and escaped, and now once again, upon this present criminal trial, sworn-for recenter [= [very] recently] by two instigators, [her] neighbours at Ossowko, on witchcraft, is not willing to admit a thing at all. Hence, the decree of the Most Illustrious superior authority upon the first two accused women having been approbated, decernit [= contends] that the third and last torments be executed upon Dorota Nabzdziszka according to the law, and even though she might not acknowledge of any thing as for herself, and those accused ones, that is, Regina Zdręczyna and Anna Piekutka, who have summoned her for this present criminal trial, should they also be claiming, and come-up unto that world with it, so that Dorota Nabzdziszka together with Regina Zdręczyna and Anna Piekutka be adjudged and punished by way of a single decree lively [i.e. alive], [then this is exactly what] we hereby ordain by means of our power and authority.

The office[,]consenting therefore to a clear instruction of the Most Illustrious superior authority of theirs[,] having in the first place multoties et plurimis vicibus [= many a time and at multiple occasions] admonished Regina Zdręczyna and Anna Piekutka through the love of God so they did not suspect, nor assume upon their soul, an innocent individual whilst not concealing a guilty one. And those aforementioned women, by means of a staid and unchanging word and brains, and beating their chests, did not want to forsake Dorota Nabzdziszka, claiming that she was of the same sort as they themselves were, going to the horrible d[D]ivine judgment with this and being ready to seal this confession of theirs by their own death, [and] staidly reproached Dorota Nabzdziszka straight, not willing by any means whatsoever to forsake her.

The office[,] satisfying therefore the orderly and the clear edict of its Most Illustrious superior authority, hereby ordains to burn with fire Regina Zdręczyna, Anna Piekutka and Dorota Nabzdziszka lively [i.e. alive], according to the appertaining and described law, cum omni executione finali [= with the final execution in its entirety], so that it be delivered through an executor s[anctae] iustitiae [= of the sacrosanct justice].



a-a Overwritten.
b-b Overwritten.
c-c Written in a different hand.
d Written in a different hand.
e In the original, the word sobie (not informing the phrase’s meaning, in the given context), crossed out, follows.

A battery and witchcraft trial

Done in Ulanów at the court Chamber, at the presence of [the] Rep.[utable] Gentleman Łukasz Cetnarowicz, the village mayor; RepGman Marcin Kościółek, RepGman Marcin Nicałek, the burgomasters; Mr. Wojciech Pańczyk, Mr. Mateusz Kościółek, Mr. Mateusz Janik, Mr. Michał Gutek[,] the jurors[,] die 27. Maji 1786 Ao. [= on 27th May 1786].

Regarding the case of Stanisław and Jan Gzik, the actors [i.e. plaintiffs], and the defendant Wojciech Łabęcki, on battery. The actoring [i.e. plaintiff] party hath made the following complaint. My wife was walking out of her cottage into the marketplace to the bread [stall], whilst Łabęcki, having gone out of his house, was shouting toward her -- hang-on and I’ll try my powers with you, my wife replied: I’m no lad to try my powers with you. Łabęcki followed her down to the town-hall, my wife sat herself behind the counter, Łabęcki would say unto her: is this garden yours. My wife replied: as if it were your Kazylowka,[.] Łabęcki, enraged at that, snatched my wife’s kneading-troughs with bread, which [= the bread] fell to the ground, hit [her] with a stosur [i.e. (dialectal, obsolete:) a sort of pushrod] on the head, my wife took back her troughs, and Łabęcki seized the other stall-holders’ troughs with bread, kukiełkas [pieces of plaited white bread], hulled-grains and sprinkled onto the ground, and hit my wife four or five times with a stosur on the head, my wife was fleeing from Łabęcki’s obstinance, Łabęcki having caught-up with the same hit her with his fist on the head, till she fainted and fell onto the ground, whom Łabęcki battered, drubbed, murdered [scil. tormented severely] at the marketplace, until the burghers tore the same away from my wife, and she, fainted, was taken onto a cart and fetched home. Of which I have manifested myself and quoted the licences of Łabęcki.

Wojciech Łabęcki has made a certain exceptyon, [whereby] not that much about the garden[,] which doth not belong to her[,] as about blustering [that] a devil be sent down upon me was that I gave hear a beating, and as I was drunk then, I cannot remember now how many times I hit her, and since Gziczka entertains herself with confusion, I hereby prove to her, by means of a certification from the Rudnik magistrate [i.e. municipality] die  20. Maji 1786 Ao. [= dated as of 20th May 1786], as [= that] she endeavoured to send a beast on to Frydryk Pucek and about [= for] this was she taken prisoner at Rudnik by the magistrate. I hereby put forth for testimony herein Błażejowa Dołowa [i.e. the wife of a certain Błażej Doł/Dołowy?], who hath testified that she had incited Wincenty Pendrak[,] her son-in-law[,] to burn my barn,[;] I hereby put forth for testimony herein Grzech Możdżech, who had testified that his son Jan Gzik sought with a faerie [that] a devil be sent down upon me, and I, as I was expecting and fearing some sort of misfortune from Gziczka [i.e. Gzik’s wife], who hath always been calumniating me and always blustered, coerced me then so I gave the one a beating [syntactically: sic!].


The court of the Ulanów magistrate, having heard the pretensions of both parties. Since the Ulanów magistrate hath seconded Mateusz Janik, Michał Gutek[,] the jurors, for seeing in what sort of health and [= or] infirmity Gziczka was remaining, Gziczka was regretting herself [i.e. complaining] on her head having been beaten by Łabęcki[,] saying: I may not be spared till the other Sunday [= week], whilst the testimony [= witness(es)] at the court testified that Gziczka die 19. Maji [= on 19th May] was hit eyght times hit on the head by Łabęcki, apart from the stosurs, with the troughs by the town-hall. Thus, the court hereby invents that at once, on this very day, Wojciech Łabęcki bring a barber-surgeon from a krajzant [prob., a derivative of Kreisamt = German for ‘county office’] from Rzeszów to Ulanów for recognition of the infirmity of her health, whether or not shall she live after this beating on the head and can be rescued as to health, or shall she be condemned to dying, this being commanded unto Łabęcki under the court’s mulct in Casu Contraventionis [= in case this be contravened]. As for delivering by Łabęcki to Stanisławowa [i.e. Stanisław’s wife] Gzic[z]ka [sic], who blustered that a beast be sent, etc., the court dilates and suspends [the case] due to the infirmity of the same one’s health.

Done in Ulanów at the court Chamber, at the presence, etc., die 3 Junii 1786 Nr. [= on 3rd June 1786].


Regarding the case of Stanisław and Jan Gzik, the actors [i.e. plaintiffs], and the defendant Wojciech Łabęcki. Reassuming the first decree de 27. Maji [= dated as of 27th May], that hath been contented by Łabęcki as he brought-along a regiment barber-surgeon from Rozwadów to Stanisławowa [i.e. Stanisław’s wife] Gziczka[,] battered by Łabęcki[,] for recognition of her health infirmity, and that one [i.e. the surgeon] gave a testimony in writing, at the attention of the magistrate of Ulanów being present, having revised [the state of affairs], that Stanisławowa Gziczka had not a sign of battery neither on her head nor on her leg, and albeit she lie in her bed, this is not from a beating but out of anger, pretending a heavy infirmity. However, Wojciech Łabęcki, having an [r]ancour against Stanisława [sic] Gziczka for various reasons, as he quoted in his exceptyon, having got drunk, Gziczka behind the counter, by the town-hall, the troughs of hers with bread, and of the other stall-holders’ troughs with bread, groats, millets did he threw all around, damage he did, pokked Gziczka on the head with the troughs, and beat her on the head [syntactically: sic!], and having caught for the runaway one, at the market-place, beat her on the head, and so she fell, and battered her on the head several times whilst [lying] on the ground, whom the witnesses distracted from a further battering, whereas Gziczka, languorous by then, was transported to her little house. In order therefore that such an instance of boldness and exorbitancy be punished, the court hath adjudicated. And, since Wojciech Łabęcki had withdrawn P[olish]Zl[oty] 33 for the bringing of a barber-surg[e]on from Rozwadów[,] for payment to the same on [= for] the cart, etc.,[;] for patiency, he is supposed to give Stanisławowa Gziczka PZl 20,[;] for the parish church of Ulanów, 5 pounds of wax,[;] to the court, 6 grzywnas; to the stall-holders, the damages caused to the bread, groats is he supposed to pay. With regards to the proposition by Wojciech Łabęcki to Stanisławowa Gziczka whereby blustering she was of sending a devil, incitement and providing a method for having people burnt with fire, etc.[,] which method of sending a beast did she provide to her son Jan Gzik [syntactically: sic!], and the latter, having an [r]ancour against Grzech Możdżech sought for a devil with a faerie, in which defamations Stanisław Gzik is attempting at clearing himself through the jurament [= adjuration]. The court[,] according to the Saxon[y]’s law[,] Articulo [= Article] 14, writing [= stating/providing] [that] whoever hath entertained with enchanters and sorceries – whenever it should have appeared that whoever hath taught any such thing to another, or threatened to any-one, or the susspect hath [so] displayed himself through his words, conduct, attitude, then such one ought to be punished severely. Stanisławowa Gziczka rushing to take learning from Rozaczka at Rudnik, as testified by the attestatum Rudnikiem die 22. maji 1786 [= attestation of Rudnik dated as of 22nd May 1786], hath made herself suspect together with her son Jan Gzik and displayed it with her words, conduct, blustering to people [that] their lives be put under harm, and even though thou dost not have any [= there is no] pertinent evidence  of her having undone any-one as to fortune or life, all the same[,] as she was resorting to evil people that entertain with witchcraft, then the court hereby imposes upon Stanisławowa Gziczka the penance that she lay prostrate at the church at the holy mass for 5 Wedenesdayes and Stanisław Gzik is supposed to return to the church 5 pounds of wax. Should nonetheless Stanisławowa Gziczka, [her] son Jan Gzik, bluster unto any-one [that] they harm their life, fortune, they then are supposed to be sent forth to the higher-tier jurisdiction approved by the Tribunal of Th.[eir] Imp.[erial] [and] [R]oyal M[aje]st[ie]s[,] Consilii appelationum in Criminalibus [= ~the Council of Appeals for Criminal Cases], and punished [by the same]. And because Stanisławowa Gziczka pretended herself [sic] to be mortally ill and had Wojciech Łabęcki compelled to expend the cost of PZl 20 on the barber-surgeon, so ordains the court hereby to Stanisław Gzik that he return to Łabęcki PZl 20, and Wojciech Łabęcki is supposed to return Stanisław Gzik PZl 4 and 12 gr.[osz] [by virtue] of legal expense and both parties are to mutually apologise to each other. As to Wojciech Łabęcki, he is supposed to pay upon this present decree and content both of the parties as to all the items to [= of] the decree, and this under [pain of] imprisonment in casu contraventionis [= upon contravention of the same][,] by right hereof.


Actio criminalis contra Catharinam Mrowczyna in Stayszewo [sic] prima augusti anno 1695. Scripsit et extradidit Ioannes Franciscus Ruthenn, regius publicus iuratus notarius, manu propria. [= Criminal action against Katarzyna Mrowczyna, [held] at Staniszewo on the 1st of August, year 1695. Recorded and extracted by Jan-Franciszek Ruthenn, a sworn royal notary public, in his own hand.]

[f. 1v] Actum coram iudicio criminali in villa Staiszewo [sic] die 27 mensis iulii anno Domini 1695. [= Done before the criminal court at the village of Staniszewo, on the 27th day of the month of July, 1695 AD.]

Before the noble criminal court at the village of Styszewa [sic] in the Mirachowo Starosty [i.e. district authority], under the consensus and by command of the RtHon MGLord [= Most Gracious Lord] Jan-Jerzy Przebendowski, the Castellan of Chełmno, Starost of Mirachowo, etc., etc., having appeared facedly [= in person] the respectable Stanisław Skrzypek, the locall mayor of the village of Staiszewa [sic], and this under admittance by MGLord Jakub Kaminski [Kamiński], Deputy-Starost of Mirachowo. Which village-mayor, holding the entire plenipotency before the present criminal court against Katarzyna Mrowczyna the pasturess [= shepherdess], who was born in aSytno [today, Sitno] in the Kartuzy statea, hereby lays his complaint and makes a criminal complaint in puncto [= at the point of, i.e. as regards] conjuring, as that Mrowczyna woman hath long been keen on, and skilled in, conjuring, as well as appears in actis [= in files] various of the criminalsort. It hath also occurred that she hath dome various detriments unto whom [= certain] people.

So that this marked [= appointed] plenipotentiary might therefore prove to this accussed Mrowczyna her misdeeds and conduct [i.e. provide conclusive evidence against] the said one with the documents, that is why he puts forth hereat the reliable and loyal witnesses, and these are: Wojtek Zloch, of the village of Staiszewa [sic], a feoffee [resp. feodary; tenant],[;] the other, Tomasz Browarczyk, a steward from Gluszino [Głuszyno].

Requesst[ed] then the aforesaid village-mayor of Stajszewo [sic], as the actor [= i.e. plaintiff] and instigator appointed for this case against Katarzyna Mrowczyna, that those witnesses mentionned herein-above speake-out their testimony, whichever is known to them, before the criminal court, and as well as [sic] examine this accused Katarzyna Mrowczyna according to the law and deal with her legally, so she at first be examined in kindness[,] and if she whilst in kindness hath failed [f. 2] to confess what she [is] accused of, it is then for the court to deal with her according to the law[,] that is, the same be adjudged to torture, so that the truth may come-out and her spites be revealed, and whatever she hath confessed, the same be connoted and for her to be dealt with in accordance with the law, as the law imposes.

Thus he puts forward hereat for inquisityon the above-mentioned two loyal witnesses, so that they be examined in this and speak-out the sincere truth under the conscience, whatever is known thereto against that Mrowczyna woman. For which the criminal court hath consented.


a ---- a  Added within a previously erased blank.

1. testus [The first witness]

The laborious Wojtek Zloch, of the village of Staiszewa [sic], a feoffee, being fifty-and-two of age, an honest man and worthy of giving a testimony, hath testifyed sub conscientia [= under the conscience] what is well known to him. [Namely,] That once upon a time, this accused Katarzyna Mrowczyna here in Stayszewo [sic] would come-along to this witness’s house often-as-not begging at the door, then the witness on this occassyon spake unto her once thus: And you are borne by the devils that often. Within a short time thereafter had this witness his five cows throwne-down and above that, his oxe had its leg breaken, this oxe can not till now in the small-of-the-back [prob., set its loins back into working order][,] albeit the witness did cure his oxe, however it is not whol[l]y sound. Of which oxe the thighes are drying and, they say, it shall not ever be healthy any more.

More of harm was being caused unto him also, but at this he can not swear if it was this Mrowczyna who did that. And what refers to his cows and the oxe, for this [sic] Wojtek Zloch, the witness, is ready to support with his oath. For having putt his fingers too on the chest[,] he was to be swearing by his will. But the criminal court hath adjourned this oath of his for further actyon.

2. testus [The second witness]

The laborious Tomasz Browarczyk, a steward from Gluszino [Głuszyno], aetatis suae circa annorum 60 [= aged circa 60 years], a reliable man, hath sub conscientia deposed and sincerely testifyed that in the past year at this time , his brother named Grzegorz Browarczyk got drowned in a river near Ciesząnki. Out of great desolation did he go to that planetaress [i.e. ‘planetary prophetess’, astrologist], who was staying for that time in Zakrzewo. The said witness asked her for which reason namely had the said brother of his drowned so miserably. And that planetaress had known by then already what the said witness came to see her for, [f. 2v] saying unto him: I do know what you are going to see me for. Yet, the witness asked that planetaress for which reason his brother had drowned. To which she answered to that witness that this was done by his oldwoman [Polish, starka; grandmother], for she had sent two devils to that place to encounter him. One of the devils poked his legs, so he fell into the water, and the other devil was drawing the water and poured it upon the same. And the planetaress also said that that Katarzyna Mrowczyna was to have 5 devils or Satans with her. And quoth she beside this that the said drowning [= drowned] Grzegorz Browarczyk was toiling for some half-an-hour till he got whol[l]y drowned. Should there have been any-one coming along in the mean time, he could have tried to rescue that same one.

This [is what] that witness did testify and [he is] ready to swear for his confession of testimony, if this be so needed. Testis plura nescit. [The witness has declared himself unaware of anything else.]

3. testus [The third witness]

The respectable Krystian Stach a, a miller of the Mirachowo mill and quoth he this, and deposed, that in the past winter, that accused Katarzyna Mrowczyna came directly unto the Mirachowo mill, into the house, begging. At that, the milleress gave Katarzyna an ordinary alms, saying unto her: [“]Go get this, thou do accept this for gratefully [i.e. for your gratefulness][”], fearing any sort of damage thereafter. And then on, on the third day after that, the milleress’ cow flueng-down. This is what the miller hath quoth and deposed.


a Overwritten above as well.

4. testus [The fourth witness]

Of the gloriouss [sic] mister Paweł Plinski [Pliński], an inn-keeper of Tluczewo [Tłuczewo], a reliable man, hath deposed with his conscience that circa 6 years [ago?], there was an execution over two sorceresses at Niepoczolowyce [Niepoczołowice]. Of whom both have testified as to that one Katarzyna Mrowczyna that she was a sorceress and appearreth [re]marked [upon] in the local files in [= of] the village[,] in the Niepoczulowo [sic] ones. This hath also been confirmed by mister Paweł Plinski, a son of this same witness, being his father’s testimony.

5. testus [The fifth witness]

MGLord Jan Katrzynski ‘[Katrzyński] hath also deposed and testified about that every forth witness had deposed against Mrowczyna that she is recorded in the files, the truth being plain-spoken.

[f.3]                                           6. testus [The sixth witness]

MGLord Wawrzyniec Radoszewski, a lease-holder from Miloszewo [Miłoszewo], hath deposed and certified that in the present year 1695[,] in the week before the Whitsun[tide] when the witch was executed at Pobloce [Pobłocie], that one also confessed of this Katarzyna Mrowczyna that she was a sorceress. It being found that she [is] recoded in the locall files of Pobloce. Plura nescit. [[The witness has] declared himself unaware of anything else.]

It was then that [i.e. At this point], the witnesses testified against this Elżbieta [sic] Mrowczyna, accused in [= of] witchcraft.

The plenipotentiary for this case then requests so that this prisoneress be brought before of this present [sic] criminal court, and put before the same. To which hath the court consented.

Having appeared facedly [= in person] before this present criminal court[,] the respectable Stanisław Skrzypek, the locall mayor of the village of Stayszewa [sic], as the plenipotentiarya for this criminall case, hereby puts forth this Katarzyna Mrowczyna, against whom he hath proposed his complaint, and denounces that one to be a sorceress, requesting this present court that this accused one be examined and adjudicated in conformance to the law. Should she have not confessed her misdemeanours on a benevolent basis, so that [= may] the criminal court vouchsafe to deal with her further-on according to the law.

Thisb accused Katarzyna is being examined under kindliness in line with the law upon all the interrogatoria [= interrogatories] and documenta [= documents]. Yet, she is replying in a manner so obdurate that she is innocent as to anything and is no sorceress and is not willing to admit any misdemeanour whatsoever. Thenc the instigator requests for a confrontatyon with the witnesses. dThe first writnessd [,] Tomasz Browarczyk[,] spake-out his testimony against her. Yet, she was renouncing everything in entirety. eThe second witnesse [,] Wojtek Zloch, who testified against her, reproached her and was telling her that she was a sorceress. But she was strongly, whatever was being testified upon her, renouncing everything.


a Remark added on the margin reads: Accusatio [= Accusation].
b Remark added on the margin reads: Responsio [= Response].
c Remark added on the margin reads: Confrontatyon.
d---d Underlined in the manuscript.
e---e Ditto.

The first examenation [sic]

The court, as it was willing to tackle her in a best manner possible, persuading her to confess under benevolence whether she might have any [evil] spirit [with/accompanying her], for [she has] already been given unto the court, [and] the court ought yet to deal with her according to the law.

This captiva [= captive] accused Mrowczyna responded to this persuading in this first examination: Innocent am I. Should you be willing to drown me and that’s what you can do, do with me whatever you want to do.

[f. 3 v] The plenipotentiary, seeing that Mrowczyna the accused, and handed-over unto the law [enforcement institution(s)], did not by any means want to confess any thing [of] her misdemeanours, requests the court that she be taken ad carceres [= to detention] again and requests for [fixing] a second date for the examining.

To which hath the court consented. Whereafter hath the court sent this prisoneress back to prison. Actum ut supra. [= Done as above.]

The second examenation

Upon the demand or request of Stanisław Skrzypek the instigator this Katarzyna Mrowczyna was brought-along againe before the of the present [sic] criminal court. Examined well as well on a voluntary basis, so she see herself through and testify to her misdemeanours in kindliness, proposing [i.e. the court rendered her aware] that she shall have in misdemeanour suffer in compliance with the law whatever the law imposes. But the accused Katarzyna was willing to admit to nothing[,] saying that she was innocent and had no evil spirit with her whatsoever, for this is what the people out of malice pretend against her, that she is a sorceress. But she doth not feel or plead as to anything and hath done no evil unto any-one whatsoever.

The instigator belonging to this case, at seeing that this accused woman hath admitted nothing at all, requests the court that she be brought to the prison again and requests for [fixing] anothere date after the dinner.

The court, having taken notice that this accused woman was willing to admit nothing entire[ly] [= at all] whatsoever, hath sent the same again to prison. Actum ut supra. [= Done as above.]

The third examenation

Thirdly, the criminal court admitted that this captiva Katarzyna Mrowczyna be brought before it. Having examined the same heavily, having considered [with respect to] the same [the application of] severe torments [normally applied] upon such ones who are not wiling to admit their misdemeanours in kindliness [i.e. on a benevolent basis], for this is what the law hath resolved for [= with respect to] such, whereafter having [= offering her] still some time to plead guilty in kindliness.

To which reply she did that she was not guilty and renounced of witchcraft whol[l]y.

2a  Should however the court be knowledgeable of that she is a sorceress , then the court is to deal with her in the way they understand it and are willing to do themselves.

3  She also quoth beside this that one woman at Niepoczulowyce [Niepoczołowice][,] named Szelka, whom they had burnt 6 years ago, the same woman had given her hards for weaving still before that. In which hards there was a piece of timber embedded. Having those hards she, till there was something hard inside the hards when she became aware thereof.

[f.4] 4  And this she appends that she could through such hards receiving [= received] from this sorceress have obtained some thing for this time, yet nothing that she would know of. This Szelka of Niepoczulowitze [sic] came-over however thereafter unto her and asked about this Mrowczyna, where she had mislaid that timber. And she replied her, and threw [i.e. had thrown] that tiny piece of timber, which was like half-a-finger [long], onto the ground. Therein the children swept-off that piece of timber. All this she owned-up on a voluntary basis. But she did not by any means want to admit as to any other vice whatsoever.

The plenipotentiary requests at that point that a severe term [i.e. course of procedure] be applied upon her in line with the law further-on, as she is not in a position to admit any more of her vices in benevolence.


a There is no entry numbered ‘1’ in the manuscript – which otherwise apparently ought to precede the sentence marked ‘2’.

Interlocutorium [=Interlocutory]

The criminal court, having thoroughly taken notice of that this inculpated and accused Katarzyna Mrowczyna[,] now that she hath for a third time already been examined and admonished thoroughly, all the same was she not willing to confess in benevolence her misdemeanours and crimes as proven with testimony, and since however certain indicia, and agreements, and her own (albeit imperfect) confession is delivered, when she conversed with suspected persons [sic], also she hath given a testimony and perfectly phrases it that certain sorceresses  had confessed and referred upon this Katarzyna Mrowczyna.

So that the plain truth may appear, the criminal court hereby proceeds ad merita iuris [= to the substance of the law/regulations], [stating] that [she is] worthy of being handed-over to tortures. Whereafter hath the court resolved that the same be taken to the tortures and whatever should have occurred therein, shall vouchsafe to deal with her farther-on according to the law.

Handed-over to the first tortures pursuant to the instigator’s demand[,] as phrased by the law upon [i.e. with respect to] such ones.

The first torture

So soon as this inculpated Katarzyna Mrowczyna was according to the criminal court’s decission drawn on [= to] the tortures, she requested the court in this that she be eliberated [i.e. set free/cleared of the accusation], saying in her torments: [f. 4v] That she wanted yet to tell the truth and voluntarily confessed.

  1. In the first place did she say that she was a sorceress.
  2. Testified she that she had received from Szielkaa [sic] a spirit within the [h]ards, whom Sielka [sic] called Marcin; this is what she [i.e. Szelka] told her and she [i.e. K.M.] learned from her how to whitch.
  3. Testified she that she had received that Marcin spirit within the hards, who afterward appeared himself as a black lad.
  4. Testified she that she had baptised herself in the lake of Niepoczulowice.
  5. Testified she that Szelka put her three grosz at her baptyism into her padpenik [poss., lapful].
  6. Testified she that she was a sorceress. Herself requested that she be drowned upon water.

She was not willing to tell more after the first tortures, saying that now she cannot  be saying more now.

Whereafter the present court freed this evildoeress from her first tortures. And since the instigator requested that she be taken to the p[r]ison once again, the court hath fixed the date for the secund torture at the fourth hour in the morning[,] and this in line with the law. Actum ut supra. [= Done as above.]

Occurred before the criminal court at the village of Stayszewo [sic] on the day of 28 iulii [= July], year 1695. Before this present criminal court, upon the instancy of the plenipotentiary[,] the mayor of the village of Styszewo [sic], who is appropriate with this criminall matter, Katarzyna Mrowczyna [has been] put again, who in the first torture was willing to rightly confess no thing. Whereafter the afore-named instigator requests that this evildoeress[,] inculpated in [= of] witchcraft, be taken to the second tortures, so that the truth necessarily [be] revealed upon her, as she had fulfilled the misdemeanours. To which the court hath consented.


a A ‘W’ [= ‘In’] was added before this word.

[f. 5]                                                          The second torture

Whereafter taken to the second tortures, this above-mentioned evildoeress, who was brought [to justice] in accordance with the law, she instantly requested for being freed in that she wanted to confess the truth in a perfect manner. At which the court admitted to free the same. Four marks as ordinary with conjuring were found on her shoulders.

Confessata [= Things confessed]

  1. Says she and deposes, confirming all this whatever she confessed yesterday after the tortures, that Szelka had given her that spirit in the hards.
  2. Says she that yesterday did Michał the spirit fly off from under her arm-pit, as she was on her first tortures.
  3. Deposes she [that] when this devil Marcin was baptising her in the Niepoczolowyce [sic] River [s] [sic][,] he would say unto her: I baptise you in the name of the devil.
  4. Deposes she: that same spirit told her to disavow God and the Most Holy Virgin.
  5. Deposes she that she had received this spirit Marcin from that Wszelka [sic] than [= prior to] she was burnt[,] shortly before that, for that Wszelka was a witch.
  6. Deposes she that this spirit Marcin once lie and had an intercourse with her like a husband with his wife, but the deed [= act] was cold.
  7. Deposes she whatever she was saying from the beginning, that this is the truth and she is a sorceress, is willing to live and die therefor.
  8. Deposes she that here from the village of Stayszewa [sic], a woman named Kielinska [= Kielińska] hath escaped because she is a witch and has two spirits but is not aware of what they are called.
  9. Deposes she that together with that Marcin, the spirit of hers, would she frequently lye in bed, when she lived in Linia, as she had already by then not had a husband.

Lastely, she is not willing to be saying more, saying that she can [f. 5v] not speak-out. Whereafter was she let-down from the tortures and taken again to the prison, as the instigator was requesting.

And since on the secund torture was not she willing to testify any more, whereafter this present court appointed the date[,] that is, after the noon, [for] the third torture in accord with the law. Actum ut supra. [= Done as above.]

Actum post meridiem die et actu

[= Done past the midday, on that same day, as part of continued action/procedure]

The locall mayor of Stayszewo [sic] as the instigator for this criminall matter against the evildoeress Katarzyna Mrowczyna[,] having appeared facedly [= in person] before the criminal court, requested this same court that this evildoeress be put forth before the court according to the matutinall decisyon of today, for she was not willing to in the past tortures to speak-out and confess the plain truth, for her to be taken for the third time to the torture. Whereto hath the court consented. This Katarzyna Mrowczyna evildoeress was brought before the court, so she be handed-over to the third torture. But that same evildoeress proposed to [resp. moved forward toward] the court, requesting the court that she be not handed-over to the torture, since the second spirit Marcin had fled-away from her at home right after the noon, throttling her strongly in the chest and in the left side, than [= before] he flew-away. Owing to which she now remains free. Therefore she is willing now to say and confess everything, whatever she is aware on herself and what is known to her. Whereafter hath the criminal court released her from the thyrd torture.

Confessed she thus voluntarily before the noble criminal court[,] released, unbound, uncompelled and unthreatened for the third time by the tortures.


1  Of that spirit [sic] that flew-away from her, that was Michał, and only to-day in the afternoon was it that that other spirit, Marcin was his name, flew-away from her too. Who wanted first to suffocate her and did not want to let her confess at the time of torture until the time he flew-away of her.

[f. 6] 2  That spirit Marcin tantalised her prior to flowing-away so she had to vomit with bile after the holy water she had drunk p[r]ior thereto.

3  Deposes she that she had first been given that Marcin spirit from Wszelka [sic] at Niepoczulowyce [sic] and thereafter the other one from a certain sorceress Urszula in Zakrzewo. Whom she provided to her in the egge and in butter, that is, Michał, and that egge ate she herself.

4  Confesses she that after having digested that egge, a black lad was made on the third day , whose name was Michał[,] as that witch wench had said unto her.

5  Says she, as she was being ba[p]tyised in the Niepoczulowice lake, bothe spirits assisted this, Marcin and Michał[,] dressed in black gowns, Marcin had a German and Michał a Polish vesture.

6  Deposes she in [s] [sic] [= that] it was Marcin the devil that ba[p]tyised her and poured water upon her saying: I ba[p]tyise you, Katarzyna, in the name of the devil.

7  Deposes she that prior to the baptyising, the devil Marcin said unto her: Dost thou want me to be thine, and she replied: I do[,] should thou do good unto me.

8  Deposes she that she afterwards had reflected herself nota in a timely fashion and wrong she did it that she failed to announce in this [sic] to the people and as well as [sic; = or] took advice.

9  Deposes she: on the third day afterwards, her spirit Marcin came-over to her, wearing a gray Germann gown[,] Michał the spirit wearing a Pollish gown. Those were saying to her that they wanted to live with her. This Mrowczyna replied to those spirits: Should ye do good unto me, then I shall be with you, and if you do evil, than shall I not d[w]ell with you.

10  Says she that she had to beg for bread herself whilst they would be e[a]ting bread , butter and meat , etc., etc., as well as othere aliments.

11  Deposes she that she layd and had intercourses [with] those two spirits, with Michał not that frequently but with Marcin did she always lay and carnally committed an act with him.

[f. 6v] 12  Deposes she that it was fryghtening to her to laye and have intercourse with them[,] namely[,] when she was committing an actum carnalitatis [= carnal act] with them, like a husband would do with his wife. And when those spirits were touching her, they were cold like a piece of ice.

13  Deposes she: when she was going across the villages and across the woods the grass for to rake, then Michał would be going with her but Marcin did that most of the time.

14  Deposes she: she did not tell to do any hard unto any-one, only to Wojtek Zloch himself at Stayszewo [sic]let she fourcowes to be made through her spirit Marcin, that [as] those cows were thrown-down.

15  Also did not she tell to this Wojtek Zloch, yet her spirit Marcin had to strangle his hards, of which [s/he?] is not aware.

16  Deposes she that she was once on that mountain near Linia[,] near the Niepoczulowice fields. There were at that time her spirits with her[,] Marcin and Michał, dancing and eating thereat.

17  Deposes she that she was at that mountain at St. Warpurga [i.e. Walpugis] day [i.e. 1st May]. Therein, they would dance, eat kołaczs [country circular breads/cakes], meat, butter, fish and drunk beer, but the taste was like, God console you.

18  Deposes she that on that mountain there were some 15 people, lads and gentlewomen alike, and there was one lad playing the coullter and another, the violyne. There was one woman also on that mountain[,] [a certain] Annusza from Linya [= Linia], a military, and that one is a witch; daughter of a game-keeper of the woods, also another one from Linya[,] Annusza Kaminska [Kamińska].

19 Deposes she: those were also dancing there & as well as ate, and are witches.

20 Deposes she that in Tluczewo [Tłuczewo] there are three women, one is Dosza, the second Annusza, and the third Jewa; those are witches and have their spirits but she is not aware what the[ir] [numerical] force is like and what are they called.

22  Deposes she that in Bukowina is a sheep-breeder, Jurek is his name, [he] also is a charmer, who played the bag-pipe at that time, also has got a spirit and therefore he was drifting from Linya to Bukowino [sic].

[f. 7] 23  Deposes she that in Linya there is a peasant or farm-hand, his name is Kuba Czypa, one that serves. That one was playing the coullter at that time on this mountain. Also, Truda, a wench in Linya at a grand house next to the inn at Grzegorz the boor’s, was also on that mountain and is a sorceress. But that same one went-down [= left] the service to [for?] Pomorski [unclear], [and presently] serves at the Mykrowo [prob., Mikorowo] inn. That same wench herself said before this Mrowczyna, that one booress in Linya proposed it to her in God’s monies [prob.; if so, ‘down-payment offered to a servant upon entering into the service agreement is meant’] in two szostaks [type of silver coin]. Why hath she fled away, for she was afraid. That booress is called Truda Okroyka.

24  Deposes she: she had already been a sorceress before this time that [= than ] she Wsielka [sic] was burnt at Niepoczulowyce, for that one had proposed to her shortly prior thereto.

25  Deposes she that in this year hse hath been on the mountain on Warbu[r]ga [Walpurgis night] near Gluszino [Głuszyno].. Jagnieszka Kleszka, Kielenska [Kieleńska] were with her there. Those are witches as well, she takes them onto her soul and is willing to die upon it.

26  Deposes she that today in the morning she wanted to confess in torments, but her spirit Marcin[,] that one did not admit her and was sitting underneath her left bosom. As she was only given some holy water to drink and a p[P]assion of the c[C]rucified painted on paper was put upon her head, therewith he had to depart from her but prior thereto did he severely tear her within her breasts and left side[,] till out of heaviness, as if he wanted to throttle, had she to vomit and t[h]row out of herself. In that he flew away from her through a hole in the house.

27  Deposes she that this spirit Marcin, having flown away out of the house’s hol[e] was like one bird, she-cat-shaped.

28  Deposes she: as the executyon master was giving her something to drink with a the tonggs, then this Marcin spirit shook himself and tore inside her.

29  Deposes she that she hath never confessed her sins sincerely, for she did not say to a priest of her sins, that she had those two devils. Also says she that when she did communicate, than for this time her spirits were laying on her bed and entertained themselves there.

30  At last she deposes that in Linya, Kaminska the gardener is a witch who hath enchanted two cowes to Grzegorz, also echanted a horse of Pięt[a?].

There is no more that she would know of to say or confess against herself, for she [f 7v.] did not, albeit the devils wanted to do harm, tellor do [any evil] to any-one. And whatever she confessed before the torments and in the torments and now on a voluntary basis, this is all true, she assumes this onto her soul, is willing to live and die by [= with] it and requests therealong that she not be harrowed with torments any more.

Of the noble [sic] criminal court[,] having consydered her voluntary confessata [i.e. what she has voluntarily confessed], out of which there is sufficient evidence that she hath confessed great crimes against herself, for which she hath deserved a punishment, hereby forsakes her the third torture and therewith the court orders that she remain in the prison until the last date of this criminall matter[,] as in accord with the law. Actum ut supra. [= Done as above.]

Actum coram iudicio criminali in villa Stayszewo [sic] die prima augusti anno 1695. [= Delivered before the criminal court at the village of Staniszewo, on the 27th day of the month of July, 1695 AD.]

Having appeared facedly [= in person] abefore the noble criminal courta, Stanisław Skrzypek, the mayor of the village of Stayszewa [sic], as the instigator resolved [= appointed] or this crimnall case against Katarzyna Mrowczyna, having understood her confession, the voluntary one as well as the one delivered under torture, that is hath become apparent as she hath do[ne] various damages, also heavily offended God and her neighbours, for why [= which reason] hath the instigator requested for sacrosanct justice [to be done] and for a decree in accord with her merit[,] and this according to the law. For which the court hath consented and accepted. The sentency is thus passed like this against this evildoeress, ut sequitur [as follows].


a Added above.

a----a A previous version of this phrase had an inverse order of the words.

Decretum [Decree]

Since upon all the legal media and basing upon the perfect voluntary examinations, as in the acute interrogates [= interrogations], as then this evildoeress Katarzyna Mrowczyna before the noble criminal court facedly[,] standing on her free feet[,] unrestricted, uncharged, unbound, voluntarily and publicly herself acknowledged, acknowledges and reaffirms that through her devilish affairs and skills, which also from his [f. 8] inspiration these malices and crimes having most recently been read she hath fulfilled, such as she hath dissavowed the highest Divine name, [and] having bound herself with spirits [of] the earth conversed she [with them]. By which means she conducted her own way against God, her creator and against his sacred commandment as [well as] against the love of neighbour, owing whereto she hath grossly and heavily sinned and insulted God. Whereafter it hath appeared according to the law that through such evil, affairs, she hath been quite indulging upon her life and its currencies. However, the law hereby testifies against her and passes a sentency in this that this evildoeress[,] owing to such frequent crimes she hath fulfilled [i.e. committed], to other such evildoeresses (or sorceresses) for condemnation and example [syntactically: sic], and to her namely for a severe merited punishment and castigation[,] she is to be dispatched from this life into death and executed with fire and burnt to ash[,] as in the land of Prussia the law and the custom goes[,] and this in accord with the law. Actum ut supra. [= Done as above.]

Ex actis criminalibus staiszevienisis [= staiszeviensis] extradidit Ioannes Franciscus Ruthenn, regius publicus privilegiatus iuratus notarius[,] manu propria. [= Extracted from the criminal files of Stajszewo [sic] by Jan-Franciszek Ruthenn, a sworn royal privileged notary public, in his own hand.]

We the judicial [body] hereby sign this actyon for this criminall affaire & and this decree passed from us upon Mrowczyna the evildoeress, in accordance with the law. Done in Stayszewo [sic] on the day of 1 august anno [= 1st August, year] 1695. Wawrzyniec Gut Kadosewski. Jan Katrzynski [Katrzyński].

This criminal act with a decree against Katarzyna Mrowczyna the evildoeress I hereby approve and confirm as to each single thing, so that the executyon may come-about as the decree hath phrased it, in the name and upon the command of RtHon MGLord [= Most Gracious Lord] Jan-Jerzy Przebendowski, the Castellan of Chełmno, Starost of Mirachowo, etc.

At Staiszewo die 1 augustii [on 1st August], year 1696.

Jakub Kaminski [Kamiński] propria manu [in his own hand].

The perepichka trial

Perepichka [spelled in Polish as perepiczka] is a Ruthenian word standing for a small kołacz (i.e. country circle-shaped bread or cake), roll or bun, baked in the Easter time using the same dough which is used to make the paschal dishes (Passover bread) with, and is at times consecrated together with them. It has served till this day [c. 1900] in conformity with the customs prevalent in various areas or regions.


as it hath been heard from the witnesses of the party of [= with regards to] an idolatriac perepichka as founde with varied cereals on the Easter.

Done in Trembowla on Friday after the Easter holiday, in the day of 8th April, year 1763.

The first witness[,] Ilasz Radek[,] hath testified this after the performed corporeal jurament [= adjuration]31: Lesko Hirczak arrived by his cart to the [church] service and consecration, brou[g]ht pasc[h]al-bread with him, thereafter I too arrived there and stood about there not far from Lesko’s cart, so having taken his troughs with him, Lesko carried [them] to the cemetery, out of whose troughs could I see a perepichka dropping; I could not see any-one to have taken it upp, and since Lesko aasked to a whole gathering of people at the cemetery, to which I replied, hast thou not heard them call for you, that you’d lost your pasc[h]al-bread, and whoever might have taken it upp, ’tis what I know not.

The second witness, Andrzej Strzelecki[,] hath testified under the jurament: I was gowing also to the cemetery with my pasc[h]al-bread and found a perepichka, I know not whose w as it, which I, having taken it off, placed on Kostia Hreczko’s cart, I only heard some-one call for him: Lesko, thou hast lost your perepichka, which perepichka was falling from the cart to the ground, untill Fedor, Kostia’s step-son, rectified the same  and farther I know not what hath become of it.

The third witness, Fedor, Kostia Hreczko’s step-son: I also arrived by a cart to the [Orthodox] church; I could not see whose perepichka Andruch [sic] Strzelecki took of and cast onto my cart, which I took as it was falling from the cart [and] rectified. In that [= At that point,] Paraska [the wife] of Citulski came along and, asking whether you might have found my perepichka, but I said: thou recognise [it] thysselfe and in that I walked to the church, know not where she hath mislaid it. The thing I have heard is that Ilko Radyk said, ’tis Lesko’s perepichka[,] who asked about it at the cemetery and besieged Bazyli Skomoroski’s wife for it, who crossed herself saying: leave me alone, I know not about a thing, and as I said: and we have found it, but Citulski’s Paraska took it, where she hath mislead, this is what I know not, and so Lesko Hirczak went away in search of his perepichka. I know not whether he hath found it or not.

The fourth witness[,] Pawło, son of Byczyk[?], said this: I came-along to the cemetery prior than they carried the pasc[h]al-bread on the cart; after that, having come-out [= I came out] to look for my cart and we were walking with Książyk, till a piglet carried-out the perepichka from someplace, from between the carts, which Książyk took up and put on Wasylecki’s cart when already eaten-up on the surface. I did not see any cereal therein. Then on, asked Paraska me: I know not what I should do, I have got the perepichka, only that it is besmeared, I shall not dare give it to a priest, I think there’s a need to pay with monyes. Afterwards, Citulski’s farm-hand went to slide some straw into undern[eath] the pasc[h]al-bread, that whole perepichka laying on his cart, and as to that one, I know not what hath become of it, which was taken-away from the piglet.

The fifth witness[,] Pawło, Antoni Książyk, said this: Being there at the cemetery as the othere people were[,] I went-out after that to look for my cart, that perepichka, did I take-away at a piglet’s [= from a piglet] which had bitten [it], the piglet, at the surface a little, I put [the perepichka] on a cart of sommeone, to any cereal attended I not [i.e. didn’t notice any] therein, what hath it gone to I know not, and whosever it would be know not, no another perepichka did I see, though, nor hear any-one ask for it, for that was a tumult of folks.

The sixth witness[,] Bazyli Skomorowski: I came-along for the [church] service as well, saw Fedko, Kostia Hreczko’s step-son, wipe his hands of mud, and placed the perepichka on the cart. In that did Paraszka of Citulski ask of that perepichka which had been taken-off by Andruch Strzelecki. Having taken that one, I know not where it hath gone to. Of no cereal am I aware that would be inside it, only having distrybuted the troughs to Adruch Strzelecki and Fedko, Hreczko’s step-son[,] I did take mine too, coming forth closer to Citulski’s cart I could see a underhog [= piglet, growing hog] eating the perepichka, I know not which one that was, whether the one they had taken-off from the ground or another one, that is what I know not.

The seventh witness[,], Jakim Droździk[,] said this under conscience: That I did not take any perepichka from my home or have it at the cemetery, for I had not one that would be convenient for returning to a cleric and in exchange, I returned a couple of grosz to those who were collecting. I do righteously swear upon this.

Fedro Citulski performed a corporeal jurament in this oath: I[,] Fedor[,] swear to God the Lord, One in the Holy Trinity, as [= that] I lost my perepichka on the mountain near Wolica, which was found by Józef Boyko, that is there in the magistrate [i.e. municipality], a pure one, but not the one with diverse seed, as I righteously swear, so help me God the Lord and the innocent p[P]assion of Thy Son.

Account of testimonies from the respectable Marunka Fedorowa Bieniowa [i.e. Fedor Bień’s wife]: Lesko Hirczak requested me that I bakked a pasc[h]al-bread for that same, whose wife was lying confined at that time. So I having came-over [sic], Lesko Hirczak gave me some flour, and his wife passed to me from behind a sheet a spice for the pasc[h]al-bread, which I having made, i[n]serted [the stuff] into the stove and walked to my home. At home, then, having made my own pasc[h]al-breads, I went to Hirczak’s place then, the breads having already been taken-out from the stove, where I[,] having enkindled again for the second [batch of] kołaczs [sic], there also the old Hirczaczka [i.e. Hirczak’s wife] made her own pasc[h]al-bread, she also made her perepichkas, trundled [the stuff] with a roller, poured with an old butter, gave me [the stuff] on the peel, and I i[n]serted it into the stove.

Stefan Harhara performed a corporeal jurament and so testified: I stood third in the rauw amongst the people at the cemetery with my pasc[h]al-bread from the old Hirczak who stood with his bread and had it in a basket. I saw and heard Lesko, the son of Hirczaks, come-along, to his father and asked the father: why[,] they say that Wasyl Skomorowski hath found [it], go’n’ask. And Lesko[,] worrying that a grosz ought to be given, went away, but I did not see him any more and know nothing more and have heard no more.

[A sort of reference mark is featured on the deed’s original copy, with a remark put down against it, reading: “these inquisitions belong upon [= to] that side”. The reverse page also has a similar mark and there the trial account continues, and in the middle are notes referring to other matters or cases, dated 12th May.]

Inquyring from the deffendant party heard before the court approving the pasc[h]al-breads in various manner s by various individuals, but the effect cannot be learned of, as well as by the deffendant one [sic!].

Lesko Hirczak was voluntarily approbated, who of unknowledge for the approbation of the pasc[h]al-bread taken from him himself pointed to they belong [? sic; prob., ‘the laying one’]. Thereafter he was asked whether there had been any abetment with his wife, his mother or mother-in-law of sorcery of some sort. To this he answered that I was not and [sic] at the cottage at that time as they were i[n]serting the pasc[h]al-breads into the stove after the second baked breads, as they i[n]serted and I was not there as they were taking out.

Anastazya[,] the old Hirczaczka[,] was queried, [and] what she said is that she was baking Bień’s pasc[h]al-bread for Lesko, having i[n]serted those into the stove went she to her place, which I having taken-out from the stove, lit a fire in the stove and, having made my pasc[h]al-bread and perepichkas, in that Bieniowa [Bień’s wife] having arrived helped me i[n]sert [the stuff] into the stove, I was passing [the stuff] on to the peel, and Bieniowa did the i[n]serting, but of no witchcraft is that I know, nor am versed to them [= in any], and as well as [sic] she did not pour cereal into the pasc[h]al-bread, nor did I advice upon this and it was not from my house that this perepichka hath issued.

Bazyli Hirczak was queried: That I was carrying my pasc[h]al-bread for consecration, had for the cleric a perepichka in my bosom, which I did return, and that my son Lesko hath lost the perepichka somewhere and asked me of it. Whoever might have found it, I know not. In any sorcery have I not entertained, neither hath my wife, and albeit Lesko had brought Bieniowa along the pasc[h]al-bread for to bake, misery knowes them [archaic/regional set phrase; meaning: ‘who on earth may know …’] whatever they might be doing there, for I was not at the cottage at that time.

Maruńka Raczniczka was approbated and queried, [and] said she: that I do not know for what and for what reason Hirczaczka put her pasc[h]al-bread and right after[,] next to that pasc[h]al-bread, she set a tiny perepichka closest to that one and two other[,] larger ones, after that a tiny fourth one and [this] with these words [in a Ruthenian dialect:]: ’tis to be for the hospodyn [= lord, master]. And that she [poss., I?] would be to pour cereal or varied seed, neither did I mix it on my own … [sic]

After an inquisityon was derived from the witnesses as well as the inquyrings heard from the called ones [i.e. those called to appear before the court; defendants] themselves, the office ordained that those be [put] into a stronger sequest[ration] [= separated even tighter] from [sic; under] guard, in which they were mixed [sic; prob., contained] with the similar principles to [i.e. those with established guilt as to] evil deed. At first, Wasyl Hirczak himself uttered these words: I [prob.; Ruth.] also several-a-time would send Lesko to the land-mayor so he took advice what should we do with it that people are chatting around of us. And like Lesko said: I [prob.; Ruth.] also was at lord the land-mayor’s: Mr. land-mayor do please ad[v]ice me what am I now to do about it that the people are chatting, and mister land-mayor said to me: give that a rest, give’t rest, for had I seen that misfortune, then I would have harnessed the horses in [= to] the cart, why, with a wife [i.e. woman] there amidst the people, and now I find myself in misery.

Hiraczka, having in turn comprehended what was there to become out of that around her, took to [= became] searching for protectyon. She afterward said: let the old-man stay kept at the sequest[ration] [= detention], and I, let me go with Leśko [sic], because if my son goes there on his own, then he knowes not a thynge and I myselfe oughte bee there [the original has a Ruthenian phrase].

The court, having detained those persons at the sequest[ration] for the whole nigh t , and as the [until?] the first protectyon Petro Tokarz of Podzamcze took a rubbed sheep-skin from Rymbała the pryest32 , as he himself presented four pieces of various-type linens, two scrolls of white household cloth, one scroll of wadding, a marine-blue żupan [Polish national-dress undergarment], a crampe belt [prob., a belt furnished with a special buckle; otherwise, a ‘crape belt’] made of white scarves we know not what [sic], a small trough with pork-fat [resp. bacon] and whole leaf-lard, a ring of wax slightely flaked on its side.

Libera Konfessata33 from Anastazya Hirczaczka, called [to appear before the court] in [= on account of] witchcraft.

The first question, she was queried: From the youthhood of her years – this is what she said – I have been living [sic] with my husband[,] aged fifty, I have entertained with no sorcery whatsoever. I lived at Rakowica for more than twenty years, amidst my neighbours in Sady34 have I also lived for years twenty, entertained have I with no thing.

Second question: By the juridicium [= jurisdiction/court institution building], as to [= to] the reverrend Rymbała did I deliver my work in not a thing, ready am I to swear, nor to Petro Tokarz.

First voluntary question by Wasyl Hirczak: As we have lived one with the other for 50 years, I was living amidst the neighbours, begotten the children, but no sorcery we know of, I earned-up a piece of bread with the work of my hands, [as] to the cows my wife knows not a thing.

Second question: I have delivered not a thing by the juridicium. Petro Tokarz took the sheep-skin and this because of the cold, in [=from] the reverrend [sic] Rymbała did I borrow 4 minted thalers. I am ready to swear upon all this.

First question by Lesko Hirczak: Of the perepichka, I know not wherefrom that one with varied seed should have been issued; I, although have lost a perepichka, but [that one was] with no cereal [in it]. I did not see my mother at any evil deed whatsoever.

We did not carry-away any thing by the juridicium and I know not of this. Petro Tokarz did not take a sheep-skin or [even] a smallest thing. In [=from] the reverrend [sic] Rymbała I borrowed 10 minted thalers for an expense.

Inquyring conducted from Księka, wife of Lesko Hirczak. This is what she said: Against my mother-in-law [the original uses an obsolete/dialectal word s[ś]wiekrocha] shall I say no thing, for I have not ever seen anything evil with respect to her. As to the perepichka or pasc[h]al-bread, I baked neither, for I was lying at that time in my infirmity, that is, confinement.

Second question: The old woman dispensed the things to Rymbała the pryest, she had arrived with them on her own. Whatever she might have dispensed, I know it not, for I did not ever walk out of the cottage.


Done on Saturday past the Low Sunday, at 17t h April35 A.D. 1763.

And since the land-mayor’s burgomaster’s town-council, municipal court of Trembowla[,] as it could not render itself informed from the sworn witnesses of the party of [scil., as regards] the perepichka that hath been found with a cereal, as well as [= nor] from the heard voluntary confessata by Wasyl Hirczak, is wife Anastazya and Lesko Hirczak, the son of theirs, about such sorceries having been alleged and applied, ordained that twelve individuals[,] men, put the Hirczaks [before them] and have them sworn under the oath that shall be described herein-below. And since the called party hath according to the court’s ordainment rendered six individuals appearing for the oath, that is, the famous Andrzej Mikołajenko [or, Mikołajenek,] Matyasz Błotny, Irzy Hamała, Tymosz Szpakowski[,] burghers of Trembowla,[;] the famous Łukasz Drobnicki, Wojciech Szyszkiewicz, the jurisdicunts [i.e. lawyers/law enforcers] [of; resp., [,]] RtHon. Reverrend Parrson [sic] of Trembowla. The court, taking trust in the consciency of such ones, hath adjourned the oath date for the day of Monday falling near, in the mornyng, breckfast-less and under this condityon so that the party of the other six should at-least, as ordained, not put-forth these same ones prompetly for the vindicatyon of such a misfortune.

The knowing of the witnesses of a better evidence of the party of [scil., as regards] the perepichka that hath been found.

Done at Trembowla, on Monday prior to the feast of S[t] Adalbert the Bishop and Martyr[,] A.D. 1763 [i.e. 18th April].

Kondrat Prorok performed a corporeal jurament, [and] this is what he said in presence of all the witnesses which [sic] had been put forth from the party called for the oath: They were carrying to the cemetery the pasc[h]al-breads upon the cart of Fedek Citulski, [the ones of] four land-lords[:] Fedor Citulski, the old Prorok and Hryńko, my brother, and my own one. I was not with them myself, but was at Wolica in the Divine service, so as they came-along with their pasc[h]al-breads from the town and saw me there home, thereafter each took their troughs with pasc[h]al-bread, they went to the cottage, and I hid minesselfe, after that I climbed the cart to take my bread down, I sounded-out with my feet a perepichka smudged with mud underneath the straw and whittled the same one from the mud with a knife[,] in the cottage when already after the dinner[,] having slept a little[,] and ate that one, the perepichka [was] white, a mean one [resp., to-the-measure], lesser, like the bread [you can buy] in the town for two grosz.

Tandem [= At last][,] on this day of Monday did the called party[,] to the satisfaction of the sentsy [sic; = ‘sentency’] ordained by the decree, hath put forth the credible people[,] neighbours and not relatives[,] for the disswearing of such a reproach, unto whom hath the court ordained[,] each-one and everyone separately, the corporeal jurament to this oath: I[,] N., hereby swear to G.[od] the [L.]ord Almighty, One in the Holy Trinity, that we do know as [= that] Wasyl Hirczak, having lived in Trembowla from his young years, dealt with his wife in a good-heartted manner, earned-up a piece of bread with the work of his hands, entertained with no sorceries whatsoever, nor any evil thing hath ever appeared with respect to him, either, nor has it been brought-out from the Hirczak house or issued therefrom.

And as these people have withdrawn from the oath and willing were not to swear, the called party however[,] upon advice of RtHon. Lord the Mayor [and/of?] the mayor’s courts hath made appear for surety the individuals who are worthy-of-trust and fortunated [i.e. fortuned, endowed with wealth], and the court having also inclined whereto hath admitted those same ones [to act in the said capacity].


Done on Friday after the feast of S[t] Mark the Evangelist[i.e. 29th April][,] A.D. 1763.

We[,] herein-below expressed on the signatures, are aware of this present surety of ours, which we hereby toughen [sic; ascertain is actually meant] and are willing to hold awthentick, that[,] having seen over the foure Sundays [weeks] Anastazya Hirczaczka remaining in captivity, have requested the municipal office of Trembowla so the same one be released from this sequest[ration] [= detention], which we hereby take upon surety for further reason [= consideration/resolution], we shall ought to appose this same one to the said court, the same as we are now receiving; and were we not supposed to appose the same, then shall we ought to respond ourselves for this, unless death hath chased the same one prior thereto, then thereupon shall we be become released [sic] of this surety. Wherefor[,] for a better faith[,] we are signing in our own hands. Michał Tyszowiecki + Oleksa Citulski + Jan Picun + Jrzy [sic] Hamała + Petro Tokarz + Gabryel Milkiewicz + Matyasz Błotny  +.

Tandem [= At last][,] on the day of Tuesday before the Ascension of Christ the Lord [i.e. 10th May][,] being approbated with the [applicable] means, Hirczaczka hath owned not a thing. ---

[The trial of the perepichka breaks off at this point.]

1 K. Sochaniewicz, O potrzebie systematycznego wydawnictwa materjałów do historji procesów o czary w Polsce (On the need for a systematic edition of data for the history of witchcraft trials in Poland), “Lud” 1925, Vol. 4, series 2, pp. 165–169, here p. 166.

2 See: i.a.,: J. Jodkowski, O czarowniku Znaku na inkwizycji w Grodnie w 1691 roku i o ziołach czarodziejskich (On the ‘Sign’ sorcerer during the inquisition in Grodno in 1691 and magical herbs), “Lud” 1931, Vol. 10, pp. 202–211.

3 B. Baranowski, Procesy czarownic w Polsce w XVII i XVIII wieku (Trials of witches in Poland in the 17th and the 18th c.), Łódź 1952.

4 M. Pilaszek, Procesy o czary w Polsce w wiekach XV–XVIII (Witchcraft trials in Poland in the 15th-18th c.), Kraków 2008. Cf. review: J. Wijaczka, Procesy o czary w Polsce w epoce wczesnonowożytnej (Witchcraft trials in Poland in the early modern period), “Kwartalnik Historyczny” 116, 2009, No. 3, pp. 113-126.

5 After P. Szafran, Osadnictwo historycznej Krajny w XVI-XVIII w. (1511-1772) (Settlement of historical Krajna in the 16th-18th c. (1511-1772)), Gdańsk 1961, p. 28, I assume that Krajna encompassed the former district of Nakło.

6 A. Mietz, J. Pakulski, Łobżenica. Portret miasta i okolicy (Łobżenica. Portrait of the town and its neighbourhood), Łobżenica-Toruń 1993, p. 59.

7 Ibidem.

8 Przywilej miastu Łobżenice nadany przez Jana Korzboka Łąckiego (Privilege granted to the town of Łobżenica by Jan Korzbok Łącki), ed. by J. Lekszycki, Poznań 1883 (Vol. II, art. XXII. O woźnych, sługach miejskich i mistrzu (On apparitors, municipal servants and the master executioner).

9 Przywilej, p. 136; A. Mietz, A. Pakulski, Łobżenica, p. 62.

10 A. Mietz, A. Pakulski, Łobżenica, p. 71.

11 J. Wijaczka, Mężczyźni jako ofiary procesów o czary przed sądem łobżenickim w drugiej połowie XVII wieku (Males as victims of witchcraft trials at the court of Łobżenica in the second half of the 17th c.), “Czasy Nowożytne” 2004, Vol. 17, p. 20.

12 Archiwum Państwowe w Bydgoszczy (State Archive in Bydgoszcz; henceforth as: AP Bydgoszcz), Akta miasta Łobżenicy (Records of the town of Łobżenica), acc. No. 11, ff. 458r-v.

13 G. Gersmann, Gottessurteil und Alltagsbruch: Zur Bedeutung der Wasserprobe in der Frühen Neuzeit, in: Wasser. Internationaler Kongreß im Forum Kunst- und Austellungshalle Bonn 1998, Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, ed. by B. Busch, L. Förster, Bonn 2000, pp. 157-168.

14 AP Bydgoszcz, Akta miasta Łobżenicy, acc. No. 11, f. 458r.

15 Ibidem.

16 Bald mountain (in Polish: łysa góra) – in the folk tradition it is a place where witches meet (translator’s note).

17 This name does not appear in the records of other trials, which may mean that there were more such trials.

18 AP Bydgoszcz, Akta miasta Łobżenicy, acc. No. 11, f. 458v-459r.

19 Ibidem, f. 459v.

20 Ibidem.

21 Ibidem.

22 Ibidem, f. 460r.

23 Ibidem, f. 460v.

24 Ibidem, f. 461r.

25 Little is known about Maciej Działyński. The date of his birth is unknown; he died in 1694/95. He was the first son of Zygmunt (died 1685) and Katarzyna Franciszka Witosławska. Since they contracted the marriage in 1655, he must have been born after that date. He had three brothers: Paweł, Jan and Jakub. Paweł was the Voivode of Kalisz and little is known about the other brothers. Jan was a heir of the villages of Wielawa and Dziektarnia, see: K. Piwarski, Działyński Zygmunt (zm. 1685), woj. kaliski (Działyński Zygmunt, died 1685, Voivode of Kalisz), in: Polski słownik biograficzny (Polish biographical dictionary), Vol. 6, Kraków 1948, pp. 99-100; Genealogia dynastyczna (Dynastic genealogy) www.genealog.home.pl/gd/szablony/rodzina.php?-lang [accessed 20.10.2010]; Teki Dworzaczka. Materiały historyczno-genealogiczne do dziejów szlachty wielkopolskiej XV-XX wieku (Portfolios of Dworzaczek. Historical and genealogical data for the history of Greater Poland’s nobility of the 15th-20th c.), Kórnik 2004 – www.teki.bkpan.poznan.pl/index-glowna.html [accessed 20.10.2010]

26 Ibidem, f. 461r-v.

27 Ibidem, f. 461v.

28 Ibidem, f. 462r-v.

29 Ossowko = Osowo (German, Aspenau), parish of Zakrzewo, was first mentioned in 1591 (as ‘Ostragóra’). The alternative name ‘Ossowka sive Ostrogora’ was in use in 17th century. In 1653-16 95 there were nine peasants dwelling in the village; cf. P. Szafran, Osadnictwo historycznej Krainy, p. 178. The present trial files enable us to complement the picture of the village’s history: according to P. Szafran, op. cit., an inn functioned in Ossowko in 1773 while the files tell us that it had been in operation there a century earlier.

30 The ‘Bald Mountain’, prominently featuring in a local legend about witches’ Sabbaths.

31 Corporeal jurament, iuramentum corporale, is the witness’s own oath, as opposed to shared (collective) oath, made by so-called oath-helpers.

32 Mikołaj Rymbała was an Orthodox priest of Trembowla, chartered in this capacity in 1752 by King Augustus III. [Cf. Castr. Halic., vol. 262, pp. 1273-1277, at the Bernardine Archive.]

33 Libera Konfessata [scil., Confessata] means the testimony made without applying torture; testimony made under torture

34 Sady is a quarter in Trembowla, mostly inhabited by artisans and fruit growers; characteristic to the area are orchards appearing locally a great deal.

35 The correct date is 16th April.