Do you have witchcraft?!
Oudewater - A pointed hat. A huge nose. Warts on the chin. A black cat. The flying broom. All signs that someone is a witch. The archetypal image of what a witch looks like dates back to the 16th century. Just look at the prints of painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder. But in real life it was a lot harder to spot a witch. But the opposite was also true: prove you're not a witch! How do you do that? In the historic city of Oudewater they had a solution.
How do you prove you're not a witch?Someone who can fly on a broomstick probably weighs nothing. Sounds logical right? At that time, Oudewater had a thriving rope industry. There was a market and therefore also a Waag, a place to weigh goods. Like in many other places, this Waag was not only used to weigh goods, but also alleged witches.
Certificate of WehingheYou could have yourself weighed at the Waag van Oudewater for a fee. Was your weight good? Then you received a Certificate. You then had official proof that you were not a witch. Quite useful if you know that alleged witches were killed in a gruesome way at that time.
Funeral PyreAs a witch you were blamed for nasty diseases, crop failures and strange natural phenomena. Therefore, people feared witches. Between the 15th and 18th centuries, no fewer than twelve hundred women were burned at the stake in the Netherlands. Incidentally, this happened more often in the Southern than in the Northern Netherlands.
Privilege of Emperor Charles VSince 1545, the city of Oudewater in Utrecht has been the only one in Europe to have the privilege of a fair weighing process. Emperor Charles V wanted someone to weigh in the neighboring village of Polsbroek - but saw that it was not done fairly. He took the woman in question to the Waag in Oudewater and put her on the scales. The woman was acquitted and Oudewater was the only city to be given the privilege to weigh witches because it was done the right way here.
Servant Anna Göldi: The Last Witch of EuropeIt is estimated that around 50,000 people have been killed in Europe because of alleged witchcraft. The last witch to be sentenced to death in Europe was the maidservant Anna Göldi. She was accused of witchcraft in Switzerland and publicly beheaded in the summer of 1782.
Only in 2007(!) was the maidservant rehabilitated by the parliament of the canton of Glarus.