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The Anatomy of a Witch-Hunt: Fear and Terror in the French Basque Country

A seminar paper at The University of Melbourne


Image: Jan Ziarnko, Description and Depiction of the Witches' Sabbath, engraving, in Pierre de Lancre, Tableau de l’inconstance des mauvais anges et demons, second edition, Paris: Nicolas Buon, 1613, following p. 118. Cornell University Library

Date: Wednesday 4 December 2019
Time: 6:15pm–7:30pm
Venue: William Macmahon Ball Theatre, Old Arts bldg, The University of Melbourne
Contact: Dr Jenny Spinks (jspinks@unimelb.edu.au)

Download a copy of the event flyer


The largest French witch-hunt took place in the summer and autumn of 1609 at the very edge of the kingdom, in a Basque-speaking region called the Pays de Labourd. In a short span of time up to 80 women and men were executed or banished, many of them apparently accused by their own children. The story of this witch-hunt has often been told, since the first account of it appeared in 1612, written by one of the judges, but what really happened has remained hidden from view.

Jan Machielsen is Senior Lecturer in Early Modern History at Cardiff University. His first monograph, Martin Delrio: Demonology and Scholarship in the Counter-Reformation (2015), was shortlisted for the Royal Historical Society Gladstone Prize. He is currently working on a study of the 1609 witch-hunt conducted by the Bordeaux judge Pierre de Lancre in the French Basque country.