Zugarramurdi Witches


The Zugarramurdi witch trial happened on 1610 in Basque particularly in the village of Zugarramurdi.  The trial was an attempt of the Spanish government to stop the mass hysteria about witches.  Coincidentally, some of the witches that were accused during the trial also exhibited signs of vampirism.  6 of the suspected witches were burned at stake.

The village of Zugarramurdi has a deep belief on witches and other undead stuff.    A body of water on the near area which they called the Infernukeorreka (Stream of Hell) was believed to be the gathering place of all the witches; this is also the place where they supposedly practice their craft.

Don Juan Valle Alvarado the lead investigator on the trial of these witches gathered evidences on statement of the local that put 300 men in suspicion of practicing an evil craft.  Not all of those people suspected were adults; some of them were supposedly children.  Sadly at that time, any testimony about demon manifestation is accepted without even further investigation.  Out of the 300 suspected witches, 40 of them were convicted and placed into trial.  They were dragged to Logrono to face the wrath of the 3 judges.  But compared to the previous witches’ trial, the youngest of the 3 judges is skeptic about the trial.  He claimed that he has not encountered any type of witches on his long years of travel; he also questioned the manner of investigation.  He said:

“The real question is: are we to believe that witchcraft occurred in a given situation simply because of what the witches claim? No: it is clear that the witches are not to be believed, and the judges should not pass sentence on anyone, unless the case can be proven with external and objective evidence sufficient to convince everyone who hears it. And who can accept the following: that a person can frequently fly through the air and travel a hundred leagues in an hour; that a woman can get through a space not big enough for a fly; that a person can make himself invisible; that he can be in a river or the open sea and not get wet; or that he can be in bed at the sabbath at the same time... and that a witch can turn herself into any shape she fancies, be it housefly or raven? Indeed, these claims go beyond all human reason and may even pass the limits permitted by the Devil.”

Based on the testimony, the Zuggaramurdi witches are member of an organization divided into different sectors.  The senior witches are the one who is on top and gave every command.  Those who are on the second level are responsible for teaching witchcraft and wizardry for the newbies.   And those who are freshly initiated are assigned to do poisons and other antidotes.  Children who were said to be present during the gathering were recruits.   They are also said to worship a gargoyle-like demon.

Besides their ability to cast spells, they are also suspected of having the ability to shape shift and take the form of an animal.  Just like the previous trial on witches and werewolves, they can transform with the help of an ointment.  Then once in a wolf form they will feel this sudden urge to kill someone.  The villagers also confessed about the missing children; the witches were supposedly taking them during night time to feed on their blood and eventually devouring what’s left of them.


Out of the 40 accused witches, 18 of them ask for repentance, they were given the chance to renew their faith on God.  5 of them died during the trial and 6 of them were burned at stake.  The remaining 11 has no account of conviction.

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