Which trials in Prlekija

The witchcraft trials in the Slovenian Styria took place, as elsewhere in Europe, mainly because of people's superstition and their fear of the devil. Their multitude was also influenced by various external factors, which people under the influence of the church attributed to the devil and his minions on earth, i.e. wizards and witches. The wine-growing region of the Slovenske Gorice was especially sensitive to natural disasters and accidents.

As for the number of processes in Slovenian Styria, we can see that the number of them reached its peak in the second half of the 17th century. This is also a time of frequent natural disasters (floods, fires), infectious diseases and wars that raged through our territory or its neighborhood. In the 16th and 17th centuries, fires were the fear and trembling not only of cities in the Slovenian Styria region, but throughout Europe, because most cities were made of wood and the houses stood next to each other.

Favorable ground for the outbreak of witch trials in the second half of the 17th century was created by the great floods that affected the Slovenian Styria in 1675 and 1684. This was joined by bad harvests in 1649, 1660, 1661 and 1690, as well as locusts, which decimated crops, and the worst evil of that time - the plague. In the 17th century, the plague or one of the plague diseases spread in Slovenian lands as many as eighty times, especially in the years 1600-1602, 1623-1631, 1641-1648, 1664-1669 and 1679-1683. In 1679, the plague was probably brought to us by soldiers from Vojna krajina, and it took a death toll in our regions between 1680 and 1683. In some places, the plague literally decimated the population, and it took quite a while for the affected places to recover.

The frequency and incomprehensibility of these accidents greatly alarmed the common people, and due to their ignorance, they looked for the causes of them in the work of dark forces - witches. This is also why the trials against them were so cruel and bloody, because in many cases people thereby reduced their own fear of the future.

The main centers of witch trials in the Slovenian Styria region were Hrastovec, Vurberg, Ormož, Ljutomer, Maribor, Ptuj, Radgona and Celje. In the years 1546 to 1746, which was the period of witchcraft trials in the Slovenian Styria region, there were 250 to 300 witchcraft trials, in which there were usually several defendants at the same time.

Statistical data on witch trials in Slovenian Styria between 1546 and 1746:

  • Accused women - 22
  • accused man - 36
  • accused - gender unknown - 172
  • total number of accused - 230
  • tortured - 56
  • sentenced to death - 170
  • sentenced to other punishments - usually flogged and exiled - 6
  • died in prison - 10
  • escaped - 3
  • acquitted - 21
  • unknown - 17
  • Total - 153