Sunday, December 11, 2016

Broom ride through Austria..........

My fascination with the history of witches is continually expanding.  Last week while C17 was
participating in the Barnes & Noble teen bookclub and A15 and her friends were running around the store, I came across a history magazine that caught my attention.  Witches and werewolves in Austria and a famous haunted castle called the Moosham Castle?  Chill bumps!

I had never heard anything about witches or werewolves in Austria before.  So here is what I found out about the European-craze to round up and kill witches as a part of every day life and how the werewolves were taken care of.

Just a wee bit of information regarding the time just before the famous Austrian witch trials.  In Austria, witchcraft began to peak during 1576 during the reign of Emperor Rudolf II a.k.a. The Mad Alchemist.  Rudolf was the product of first cousins.  He was a very moody, depressed, and a rageaholic.  (It is said that his son was far worse than he was but that is a story for another day).

Eventually, he became a recluse but not before he declared that anyone with a mental dysfunction (himself excluded) was a witch and must be burned at the stake.  It did not take much to prove someone had mental deficits (using the term loosely) since just having a container of homemade ointment, having a child accused you of being a witch, or simply having a bone would seal your fate.  Only children seven and under were safe.  Now fast-forward to 1675.

From 1675 to 1690 (17th century) in Salzburg, Austria, the most famous witch trials in the history of Austria unfolded ending with the execution of 139 people during the 15 year span.  An interesting note here is that the majority of the executions were of men.  This famous event is known as The Zauberjackl Trials, a.k.a. The Magician Jackls Process and was basically started by a 20-year-old with not much to do besides cause trouble.

The story goes something like this; Barbara Kollerin was put on trial for socery and theft in 1675. During the brutal torture of her and her partner, Paul Kalthenpacher, they proclaimed that her son, Paul Jacob Koller, had a pact with Satan.  After said confession, Barbara was executed and a warrant was put out for her son, Paul.  He earned the nickname Magician Jackl.  The Jackl was the leader of a gang of homeless children and teens.  He taught this gang to ruin crops, beg, steal, and be completely menacing to the city.  He was the devil and his gang were his minions.  The government was at a loss as they could not find this mysterious Jackl. There was wide-spread panic throughout the city so the homeless and poor were rounded up and executed.  There were 39 children between the ages of 10 and 14, at least 53 were between the ages of 15 and 21.

The majority of the executions took place in 1681.  Some were decapitated, some were hanged, and some burned alive.  Prior to execution, various forms of torure including being burned, hands were cut off, and branding with hot irons.  Basically, confessions were made to stop the torture.

A few noteworthy executed:

This is where Maria Pauer was locked away and tortured until her execution.
Maria Pauer was allegedly an Austrian witch.  January 1749, Maria (working as a maid) was sent by her employer to another house to do an errand.  The house was never the same.  Tales of torment by a poltergeist after Maria had been in the house.  After months of interrogation and torture, Maria gave up and confessed to witchcraft and was  sentenced to death, decapitation, and burning.  This was on October 6, 1750.  She was the last alleged witch to be executed for witchcraft.

Elsa Plainacher
Another noteworthy execution was that of Elsa Plainacher.  Elsa was the only person/witch executed for sorcery in Vienna.  Her parents ran a mill by the Danube River.  It is said that she was married at least three times and all of her husbands passed away mysteriously.  She was the guardian for at least four of her grandchildren.  Strangely enough, three of the four died and the other was stricken with epilepsy.  During this time period, epilepsy was believed to be a sign of the devil.  With at least seven dead people around her in a short period of time, she was accused of witchcraft and imprisoned in the city of Vienna. After exhausting interrogations and torture, she confessed and was subsequently burned alive (1583).

There was also a 12-year-old, handicap boy named Feldner Bettlerbub Dionysos, a 10-year-old boy named Hannerl, and an 80-year-old woman named Margarethe Reinberg who were all arrested, tortured, and executed due to witchcraft.  There are not a lot of records regarding these three.

PS...I love this pic!  Moosham Castle lock.

Finally, now to the Moosham Castle story, which is currently a museum.  Moosham Castle, a.k.a. The Witches' Castle, is near Salzburg, Austria.  It was built by Prince/Bishops of Salzburg back in 1191.

This castle is brimming with a multifaceted, mysterious, and evil past.

Legend has it that thousands of witches were beheaded/killed inside the castle and on the castle grounds.

As I explained above, executing "witches" was commonplace during this time period.  

Moosham Castle.

Fast-forward about a century after the conclusion of the witch trials during the 1800s.


Moosham was apparently plagued with werewolves.  Why not werewolves too, right?  I was really hoping to learn there was a vampire or two during all of these bloody events but I turned up nothing on vampires.  Back to the story, due to a high volume of  mutilated/dead cattle and deer immediately around the Moosham Castle, it was suspected that there must be a "wolf-like creature" who caused the destruction of the animals.  The locals decided to blame the castle's residents proclaiming that they were, indeed, werewolves.  So once again the torture started in the castle's dungeons which ultimately lead to the execution of these "alleged castle-dwelling werewolves."  Blaming the castle's inhabitants was a bust  and suspicion turned to the locals, now the locals were the werewolves, I bet you did not see that one coming.  They were called lycans.  The government rounded up the locals and brought them to the castle to be tortured, give confessions, and then ultimately executed.  Totally makes sense, right?

As it looks today as a museum.

As I said, the Moosham is now a museum which is privately owned.  The museum has a reputation of being haunted.  Staff and tourists alike report countless encounters of being touched, hearing footsteps, feeling breath on them, doors shutting, feeling the presence of lingering spirits, and images of white mist is random places.

No wonder the Moosham Castle is haunted, how could it not be considering the number of poor, unfortunate souls who endure brutality, dismemberment, branding irons, and death within the walls of the blood-soaked Moosham Castle.

Who, besides me, wants to go on a tour of the castle?  Don't let ghosts, witches, or werewolves stop you. Click here for more info.

Move over Harry Potter......Austria now has a witch school, yep, nothing like Hogwarts.  This is the real deal.  Classes start at around $165 American currency (155 Euro).

Pictures were a little hard to come by and took considerable looking around the web to get pictures.  I am posting what I found to be legit pictures of the Moosham Castle below.

Great view from the castle.
Random pic from outside.

Another outside view.

The dungeon.

A preserved room said to be left intact in original form with contents.
Tombstone on the castle grounds.
Another tombstone.


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