Inhalt dieser Ausgabe /
Content of this issue

Zeitschrift für Spiritualität und Transzendentale Psychologie 2012, 2 (2)

Inquisitions, Persecutions, Trials, and Sentences
in Valle Camonica in 1518


 (Original: Inquisizioni, persecuzioni, processi, condanne e roghi
in Valle Camonica nel 1518

Georgio Tortelli



In the northern Italian Valcamonica of 1518, there was a witch-hunt, of which the description of its course in the reports of eyewitnesses could shed light on the possible connections between the witch-hunts and anti-clerical tendencies in the remote valleys of this region.

Keywords: Witch-hunt, inquisition, sorcery



Im norditalienischen Valcamonica fand im Jahre 1518 eine Hexenverfolgung statt, deren Verlauf und Schilderung in den Berichten der Zeitzeugen Licht auf die möglichen Zusammenhänge der Hexenverfolgung mit antikirchlichen Tendenzen in den abgelegenen Tälern dieser Region werfen könnte. 

Schlüsselwörter: Hexenverfolgung, Inquisition, Hexerei



Before we begin the story of the witch hunt in Valcamonica in 1518, it is appropriate to draw some simple historical and legal coordinates that will allow us to understand the historical and social dynamics of what happened. Of particular importance in the repression against witchcraft was the bull "Summis desiderantes affectibus" of Pope Innocent VIII, issued on 5th December 1484. The papal document, issued as a result of the opposition of some bishops of Germany that viewed the inquisitors’ interference in administrative and religious affairs of the diocese entrusted to their mission as irregular, stated the introduction of inquisitorial canonical trials carried out only by ecclesiastical judges in cases of magic and witchcraft, and withdraw all interference of the lay courts in the proceedings and judgments proclaimed by the Inquisition. Another document being of direct relevance to the diocese of Brescia is the brief "Dilectus" posted on September 30, 1486 by Pope Innocent VIII to Bishop Paolo Zane and Dominican inquisitor, Antonio da Brescia. The Pope, informed that the officials of the city of Brescia had refused to enforce the sentences proclaimed against the whitches and unrepentant heretics, arguing that the crime of heresy was purely ecclesiastical, ordered to summon the secular officals and excommunicate "ipso facto" those that after six days had not carried out the sentences pronounced by the bishop, the inquisitor or their vicars. In the apostolic letter, everybody was prohibited to examine the pleadings, thus preventing any interference with the lay courts in the religious causes stating indirectly, but unmistakably, the supremacy of the inquisitorial court. Where the Inquisition worked there were thus two institutions that administered justice: the church that justified the reasons for its work in theology and in the temporal power of the church; this court had jurisdiction in all areas of Christian Europe and could take action against all believers; and the secular judiciary should operate in strict compliance with the statutory and, as regards the diocese of Brescia, in accordance with the orders of the Venetian Republic.

About the author:

Georgio Tortelli, doctor of history and schoolmaster in the Italian province of Brescia. Contact: 

If you want to read more, please purchase our yearbook containing all articles of 2012. This article will probably be available online in the summer of 2015 again.

Yearbook 2012