About the site

The archives of the ancient Duchy of Lorraine contain an exceptionally rich set of witchcraft trials, with full documentation surviving for about 400 cases. This probably represents around 20% of all the trials that took place within the Duchy proper between approximately 1570 and 1632. For the purposes of my research on witchcraft in Lorraine I have made abstracts of all these trials, which now form the core of this website. The first aim is to provide backup for my book The Witches of Lorraine (Oxford University Press, 2007, ISBN 978-0-19-822582-2); even in that long monograph it was not possible to include many fascinating details from the trials, while I am also very willing for others to test my conclusions against this evidence. This also applies to their extensive use in my earlier book Witches & Neighbours: The Social and Culural Context of European Witchcraft (2nd ed. Blackwells, Oxford, 2002, ISBN 0-631-23325-3 (hbk), 0-631-23326-1 (pbk). The other main purpose of the site is to place these materials within the public domain, to be used by other scholars carrying out independent research and to be available for teaching purposes.

The abstracts are English summaries with selective quotations in French, so do not offer full contact with the original French texts. Anyone who wishes to read the originals, and would prefer to avoid visiting Nancy for the purpose, can ask for access to the microfilms currently in my possession. Two trials from documents in the Bibliothèque municipale de Nancy can be accessed under the heading of Original documents, as examples of the general appearance of these texts, and a test for anyone’s ability to read handwriting from around 1600.

The sit also carries various ancillary materials. There is an index to the trials, and other lists of identifiable cases for specific areas, as well as a list of all the obvious references to witchcraft in the enormous Série B of the Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle at Nancy. Other evidence includes mentions of witchcraft, particularly the murder of suspected witches, from the large collection of lettres de rémission in the same archive, with some other more scattered references from Nancy and other local archives. The maps from my book are included, but I have been defeated by the problem of including suitable maps to show the local detail for the hundreds of villages involved. For my own work I have found the maps produced by the institut géographique national in their série verte (1 cm for 1 km) indispensable; the relevant numbers are 11, 12, 23, 30 and 31.

A bibliography of writings on Lorraine witchcraft is included, partly to supplement the briefer set of recommended readings given in The Witches of Lorraine. Finally there is a section that will in due course carry some of the results of the investigations currently under way by Dr Maryse Simon, supported by a Marie Curie Actions grant from the EU, into the position in such neighbouring territories as Luxemburg and Alsace; this may also house some additional material on Lorraine itself.