The city, the witch and the chancellery. Cover Image

A város, a boszorkány és a kancellária
The city, the witch and the chancellery.

The case of Mrs. Mátyás Horváth during the great Szeged witch-hunt (1728–1729)

Author(s): Gergely Brandl
Subject(s): 18th Century
Published by: AETAS Könyv- és Lapkiadó Egyesület

Summary/Abstract: The Szeged witch trials held between 1728 and 1744 included several proceedings, the most prominent period of which was the witch-craze of 1728–1729. This latter can be regarded not only one of the biggest but also well researched legal proceeding of the kind. The events have been thoroughly studied and we have a significant amount of literature and source publications at our disposal, but historians have not provided comprehensive explanations yet. Not even this paper can answer all the questions related to the great Szeged witch trial. Accordingly, it focuses on the triple relationship between a single defendant, the city conducting the trial and the chancellery that ordered the witchcraft investigation. Through this, it attempts to present how the events of the trial unfolded and how the economic and political interests of the city came into conflict with the centralizing reform efforts of the central government. It is especially interesting that it does so from a “low viewpoint” to let personal motivations and social roles manifest more sharply. In accordance with this, it explores the case of an accused woman: “Bogadussánné, Horváth Mátyásné Ilona aliter Eörse”. Through her trial we can also examine those social motivations and interests that were the driving force behind the largest Hungarian witch hunt. The life of Mrs. Mátyás Horváth is suitable for such an analysis as she was present at all the stages of the events and the vast majority of sources related her are available. Accordingly, the paper intends to discuss four topics in detail: the history of the trial according to the stages of the legal proceedings, the history of the town in the period preceding the trials, Mrs. Mátyás Horváth's role in the trial and her fate, as well as the investigation of the Hungarian Chancellery in the witch hunt case. Her case does not only raise the possibility of corrupt legal proceedings, which were a consequence of the city's internal discord, but it also pinpoints the reasons for the failure of the investigation by the court.

  • Issue Year: 2015
  • Issue No: 3
  • Page Range: 85-109
  • Page Count: 25
  • Language: Hungarian