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The Last Execution for Witchcraft in Europe

Catherine is 68 years old, and she has been making her way through her old age by begging and spinning wool. It is rumored that she is a Huguenot (a type of Calvinist) and a witch. The local bailiff investigates and notices that she is missing several toes on her left foot. Catherine explains that she was sleeping in a barn when two men and a woman set upon her and cut off her toes. The bailiff recalls a hunt in which he shot a fox in the leg. It screamed with a human voice and when he searched for it, it disappeared. He now believes that Catherine is the fox that he shot. He puts her on trial and people give testimony to her many crimes of sorcery. Nevertheless, the judge is not convinced so she is suspended by her arms until she confesses to flying on a broom and similar feats of magic. She is sentenced to strangulation by a rope and her body is burned at the stake. Catherine is the last woman in Europe to be executed for witchcraft. In 1782, Anna Göldi will be suspected of witchcraft but she will be executed for non-lethal poisoning. Normally people are not executed for failing to murder someone, so Anna will be exonerated in 2008. [1] [2] [3] [4]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Brace yourselves. I'm going to talk about menopause. In the 1500s and 1600s, 50% of the women who were accused of witchcraft were age 50 or above. Women going through menopause were often suspected of witchcraft. During the transition to menopause, a woman's mood swings will vary from general grumpiness to severe mood disorders. (See your doctor.) I am told this can be caused by water pressure on the brain to severe hormonal changes. As long as a husband knows what is going on he can generally resist strangling his wife in her sleep. It is easy to imagine the more severe cases being mistaken for possession, and even the women going through it might have believed that was exactly what was happening. Without information it must have been frightening. These severe mood swings do not happen to all women. My sense is that it doesn't even happen to the majority of women, but it happens often enough to cause worry. Once again, see your doctor. [5] [6] [7]

Franklin's First Public Library and Libraries Today

A few years ago Benjamin Franklin established a club for moral improvement called the Leather Apron Club. (It was also called the Junto after the Whig Junto in Great Britain which consisted of the Prime Minister and his cabinet.) Each Friday they meet and a subject is brought up for discussion. Often someone will reference a book to support his position, so the club members decide to keep their books at Mr. Grace's home. This is not as convenient as they first imagined so they take back their books and Franklin organizes a subscription library. A membership fee of 40 shillings is charged (over $400 in modern money) for free access to existing books and 10 shillings a year (over $100 in modern money) to go toward new purchases. This is a lot of money so only 50 people subscribe initially, mostly tradesmen. Non-members can borrow books after leaving a deposit equal to the replacement cost of the book. This is the first subscription library in the British colonies and it will grow into the Library Company of Philadelphia. It will remain the largest library in the United States until the Civil War. In the modern day it will become a history research library, and open to the public. [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The differences between a public library and subscription library have been blurred. A public library is usually funded by taxes, but that tax money is often spent on renting books from subscription services... essentially rental bookstores. A few books are purchased for the long term but to fill the need of the public, they will rent additional books for the initial surge. Ebooks and digital audiobooks are also rented. Libraries redirect their members to subscription websites. The library pays a fee to the subscription library so that public library members can have access to the subscription service. Thus, EBooks can be checked out and downloaded to one's Smart Phone. The big-building libraries are going the way of the dinosaur, so naturally the City of Austin, Texas is spending millions to build a shiny new library, opening in November of 2016. Apparently, those digital books take up a lot of space. [15] [16]

Significant Events

  • Martha Washington née Dandridge is born to a Virginia planter. As the wife of Pres. George Washington, she will be known simply as "Lady Washington." [17]
  • Independence Hall began as the Philadelphia State House constructed this year. [18]
  • Number 10 Downing Street is constructed this year. It is the residence of the British Prime Minister. [19]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1731, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. 1731: Catherine Repond, the last witch burned in Switzerland. ExecutedToday.com (2015). Retrieved on 26 May 2015. “A bailiff named Montenach while out hunting near Lake Gryere claimed to have wounded a fox on the foot, which shouted back at him in a human voice as it scampered away. Later, Repond, a 68-year-old vagabond with a pre-existing witchcraft reputation, turned up at a nearby farm where she sometimes hired out for odd jobs. Repond had a foot injury just like the fox.”
  2. Catherine Repond - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 26 May 2015. “Montenach had her arrested in April 1731 and taken to his castle in Corbières, where she was interrogated by torture to confess that she had flown on a broomstick to the witche's sabbath. She was then taken to Fribourg, where she was sentenced to death for witchcraft and executed by strangulation and burning.”
  3. Fribourg : Le château de Corbières. swisscastles.ch (2016). Retrieved on 14 February 2016. “En avril 1731, il interroge Catillon, en particulier sur l'origine de sa blessure au pied gauche, auquel manquent les orteils. Elle répond que, pendant son sommeil dans une grange au Gibloux, deux hommes et une femme les lui ont coupés. Ce fait intrigue le bailli qui pense trouver une explication à une aventure qu'il a vécu quelques temps auparavant. Lors d'une chasse au renard il blesse l'animal à la patte. Malgré les recherches, l'animal n'est pas retrouvé. Il imagine que Catillon, sorcière possédant la faculté de revêtir diverses apparences, était en fait ce renard volatilisé. Par conséquent, un mois plus tard, le 20 mai, la prison du château accueille sa nouvelle pensionnaire, Catherine Repond.”
  4. 'Last witch in Europe' cleared. swissinfo.ch (Aug 27, 2008). Retrieved on 14 February 2016. “Göldi, a 48-year-old servant in the house of prominent citizen Johann Jakob Tschudi, was convicted of 'bewitching' the family's eight-year-old daughter, causing her to spit pins and have convulsions.”
  5. Rowlands, Alison (November 2001). "Witchcraft and Old Women in Early Modern Germany". Past & Present (Oxford University Press on behalf of Past and Present Society) (173): 50-89. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3600840. Retrieved 14 February 2016. "Bever suggested instead that older women were most likely to display the hostility and aggression allegedly characteristic of accused witches because their gender and age rendered them particularly subject to pressing and frustrating socio-economic problems and sociocultural restrictions, and because the complex biological and psychological changes triggered by the menopause could cause the intensification of these 'negative personality traits' in some women.". 
  6. Perimenopause: Symptoms, Treatments, Weight Gain, and More. webmd.com (2016). Retrieved on 14 February 2016. “Other treatments available to help with the various symptoms of perimenopause may include antidepressant medications for mood swings. Talk to your doctor about your specific symptoms and goals of treatment. This will help him or her make a plan that is right for you.”
  7. Normal Menstrual Cycle-Perimenopausal Menstrual Cycle. webmd.com (2016). Retrieved on 14 February 2016. “Other common symptoms include mild to severe hot flashes, insomnia, cloudy thinking, headaches, heart palpitations, mood swings, irritability, depression, and anxiety.”
  8. Grun, Bernard. The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events. Simon and Schuster, 336-337. “Benjamin Franklin founds a subscription library, Philadelphia” 
  9. First Whig Junto - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 14 February 2016. “The First Whig Junto controlled the government of England from 1694 to 1699 and was the first part of the Whig Junto which had the sense of a cabal of people (self-interested group) controlling the most important political decisions.”
  10. Franklin, Benjamin. Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, The. The Macmillan Company. “Finding the advantage of this little collection, I propos'd to render the benefit from books more common, by commencing a public subscription library. I drew a sketch of the plan and rules that would be necessary, and got a skilful conveyancer, Mr. Charles Brockden, to put the whole in form of articles of agreement to be subscribed, by which each subscriber engag'd to pay a certain sum down for the first purchase of books, and an annual contribution for increasing them. So few were the readers at that time in Philadelphia, and the majority of us so poor, that I was not able, with great industry, to find more than fifty persons, mostly young tradesmen, willing to pay down for this purpose forty shillings each, and ten shillings per annum. On this little fund we began.” 
  11. Library Company of Philadelphia - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 14 February 2016. “In the back of the library's catalog from 1741, Franklin mentioned that the library was accessible to people who were not members. Those who were not members were allowed to borrow books. However they had leave enough money to cover the cost of the book. Apparently, their money was given back upon returning the book. The privilege of being a member meant that books could be borrowed for free.”
  12. The Library Company of Philadelphia (OFFICIAL SITE). librarycompany.org (2016). Retrieved on 14 February 2016. “The Library Company of Philadelphia is an independent research library specializing in American history and culture from the 17th through the 19th centuries. Open to the public free of charge, the Library Company houses an extensive collection of rare books, manuscripts, broadsides, ephemera, prints, photographs, and works of art. Founded in 1731 by Benjamin Franklin, the Library Company is America's oldest cultural institution and served as the Library of Congress from the Revolutionary War to 1800. The Library Company was the largest public library in America until the Civil War.”
  13. Measuring Worth - Purchase Power of the Pound. measuringworth.com (2016). Retrieved on 14 February 2016. “In 2014, the relative value of £2 0s 0d from 1731 ranges from £285.20 to £39,840.00.”
  14. Convert Pounds Sterling (GBP) and United States Dollars (USD): Currency Exchange Rate Conversion Calculator. coinmill.com (2016). Retrieved on 14 February 2016. “285.20 pounds to US dollars”
  15. New Central Library - Austin Public Library. library.austintexas.gov (2016). Retrieved on 14 February 2016. “Diverse and multiple building activities are underway at the New Central Library this month, with between 250 and 300 workers representing all construction trades employed at the site every day. Gypsum board walls and ceilings are rapidly being installed throughout the building as the ceramic tile installation is completed in restrooms, locker rooms and other potentially wet areas. Likewise, the raised access floors are nearly finished on all six levels of the library, allowing modular underfloor wiring to proceed.”
  16. Subscription library - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 14 February 2016. “A subscription library (also membership library or independent library) is a library that is financed by private funds either from membership fees or endowments. Unlike a public library, access is often restricted to members, but access rights can also be given to non-members, such as students.”
  17. Martha Washington - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 15 February 2016. “Although the title was not coined until after her death, Martha Washington is considered to be the first First Lady of the United States. During her lifetime she was often referred to as 'Lady Washington'.”
  18. Grun, Bernard. The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events. Simon and Schuster, 336-337. “Building of State House, Philadelphia, designed by Andrew Hamilton (--1751); later named Independence Hall” 
  19. Grun, Bernard. The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events. Simon and Schuster, 336-337. “10 Downing Street, Westminster, London residence of Brit. Prime ministers, built” 

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