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An Epidemic of Witches

The city of Arras in Flanders is overrun with vauderie this year. It's an absolute epidemic! "Vauderie" refers to Peter Valdo, a 12th century preacher who embraced a radical form of Christianity for the time. His name became associated with heresy but 200 years later "vauderie" has come to mean sorcery and witchcraft. People are tortured and many are burned at the stake, but finally the Duke puts a halt to the killing and all the witches are pardoned... those that are left alive. There is a carnival atmosphere as the people celebrate. Those who had been killed as witches were soon forgotten. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The actual facts of the matter didn't matter. There were no witches in Arras, yet the accusations increased as their economic condition worsened. Merchants avoided the town, fearing being accused of witchcraft and that made the town's condition even worse. Accident, disease, crop failure, economic slumps must be explained and blame assigned. 150 years ago the peasantry thought that disasters were a punishment by God but after the Black Death, the Great Famine and the cattle disease, it became difficult to believe that these disasters were anything but the work of some evil force such as witches.

Coins for the Ferryman

King Charles the 7th of France has died at the age of 58. Experts think he died of diabetes due to the various infections he suffered, and the paranoia. (Diabetes can cause wild mood swings.) The King eventually starved to death. Royal funerals are elaborate affairs, but in France, the processions are punctuated by delays as various groups fight over the honor of carrying the king to his final resting place. This funeral is no exception. The monks put down the king's coffin and refuse to move until they are paid 10 Parisian pounds. Even after they reach their destination, there is yet another fight over the type of cloth to be laid down. [6] [7] [8] [9] [10]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
This reminds me of the very strange funeral of the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat. In 2004 he became very sick so he was airlifted to France for emergency treatment as the BBC reporter, Barbara Platt, cried real tears. He died soon thereafter at the age of 75. His coffin was paraded through throngs of well-wishers. As the coffin neared the grave site, the crowd became agitated until it seemed they might break into a riot. Officials decided to bury Arafat as quickly as possible and disperse the crowd. A few days later he was reburied because certain Islamic rituals had not been performed correctly. This reburial took place at 3 in the morning. The exact cause of Arafat's death is uncertain and several controversial theories have cropped up including that he died of AIDS but at age 75, one can assume he died of old age. [11] [12]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1461, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. Huizinga, Johan (1985). The Waning of the Middle Ages. New York: St. Martin's Press, 17-18. ISBN 0312855400. “The people of Arras celebrate the annulment of the sentences for witchcraft, which during the whole year 1461 had infested the town like an epidemic, by joyous “festivals and a competition in acting folies moralisees,” of which the prizes were a gold fleur-de-lis, a brace of capons, etc.; nobody, it seems, thought any more of the tortured and executed victims.” 
  2. Peter Waldo - Wikipedia (2014 [last modified]). Retrieved on 5 November 2014.
  3. Arras: Late Middle Ages - Wikipedia (2014 [last modified]). Retrieved on 5 November 2014.
  4. Thurston, Herbert (1912). Witchcraft, The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved on 5 Nov. 2014. 
  5. Huizinga, Johan (1985). The Waning of the Middle Ages. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0312855400. “During the horrible campaign of persecution against sorcerers in 1461, known as the “Vauderie d'Arras,” both the people and the magistrates gravely doubted the reality of the alleged crimes. [...] Nevertheless, the town suffered severely in consequence: people would no longer shelter its merchants or give them credit, for fear that, accused of witchcraft, on the morrow, perhaps, they might lose all their possessions by confiscation.” 
  6. Huizinga, Johan (1985). The Waning of the Middle Ages. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0312855400. “An analogous case occurred in 1461, at the funeral of Charles VII. In consequence of an altercation with the monks, the “henouars” put down the coffin when they have come halfway and refuse to carry it any further, unless they are paid ten pounds Paris. The Lord Grand Master of the Horse quiets them by promising to pay them out of his own pocket, but the delay had been so long that the cortege arrives at Saint Denis only towards eight at night. After the interment, a new conflict arises with regard to the pall of gold-cloth, between the monks and the Grand Master of the Horse himself.” 
  7. Charles VII of France - Wikipedia (2014 [last modified]). Retrieved on 6 November 2014.
  8. Styx - Wikipedia (2014 [last modified]). Retrieved on 6 November 2014.
  9. Charon's obol - Wikipedia (2014 [last modified]). Retrieved on 6 November 2014.
  10. Livre parisis - Wikipedia (2014 [last modified]). Retrieved on 6 November 2014.
  11. Yasser Arafat - Wikipedia (2014 [last modified]). Retrieved on 6 November 2014.
  12. Criticism of the BBC (Barbara Plett' tears for Yasser Arafat) - Wikipedia (2014 [last modified]). Retrieved on 6 November 2014.

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