Norway // Bergen and the western fjords //

Witchery in Bergen: Anne Pedersdatter

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In 1590, Anne Pedersdatter was burnt as a witch here in Bergen and, remarkably enough, the court proceedings have survived. They reveal a strong-willed and sharp-tongued woman, who antagonized many of her neighbours, whose chosen course of revenge was to accuse her of being a witch. As far as the judge was concerned, the crucial bit of evidence came from Anne’s maid, who said she had been used as a horse to transport her mistress to a Sabbat (Witches’ Sabbath). Clearly, Anne’s maid either had a grudge or was suborned, but no matter – and despite the objections of Bergen’s bishop – she went to the flames. Anne was not alone: 300 “witches” were executed in Norway in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries – 250 of them women – in a cruel mix of misogyny and superstition that had spread across most of Europe.

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