Sunday, August 01, 2010

Witch absolution in Oudewater

Many of us know that during the dark medieval period, between 1480 and 1700, thousands of innocent women, and men as well in Europe and North America were murdered ruthlessly by mad savage religious cohorts, bloodthirsty opportunists who held grudges against these innocent people, aided by primitive thinking officials who believe in superstitions and hearsays as emblems of truths. Even just a little neighbourly quarrel can lead to the women involved condemned as witches. Scary, what if I was born in one of these places during this dark turbulent period? Would I have survived???

The original wooden weighing scales in Oudewater circa 1482 used to weigh witches. Trivia: Did you know that about 50,000 people were found guilty of witchcraft and were murdered in Europe? Museum website: Witches Weighing House (Heksenwaag Museum)

The secret of the Heksenwaag (Witches Weighing House) in Oudewater (Utrecht, Netherlands), now a museum, is that it has saved countless innocent women from being burned at stake. The theory is that witches are lightweight, that they can suspend on air and fly away with their broomsticks, thus it is important to get their exact weight as evidence in order to try them in court.


The Heksenwaag Museum (Witches Weighing House Museum) is the terracotta coloured brick building. When visiting, you can get weighed on these original weighing scales and receive a verdict if you are guilty of witchcraft or not. If you are not, you get the certificate of freedom, if you are, then you are doomed! lol


This daunting looking life-size witch doll greets you when you enter the museum. Be nice now and say hi.


Left foto are genuine certificates (Certificaet van Weginghe) issued by the Oudewater Weighing House. Next foto, the Heksenprocessen, an old book about trialing witches in court.


An audio visual screen is in the second floor of the museum where it shows the history of witch hunt in the Netherlands. Language choices are Dutch and English. Next foto is the view from the museum’s window.


Legend says that in the beginning of the 1600’s Emperor Karel V of the Holy Roman Empire was on the road passing through Polsbroek when he saw a girl suspected of being a witch standing on a weighing scale. The scale says she weighs 5 pounds. The emperor did not believe what he saw and consequently brought the girl to Oudewater, known for its fair scales. Indeed, the girl weighed just over 100 pounds and was pronounced not a witch.

Thanks to Emperor Karel V, a kind-hearted and liberal man very much ahead of his years he instituted Oudewater as the only official witches weighing house in Europe. Women, and men as well, all over Europe alleged of the crime of sorcery come to Oudewater to be weighed, and it is always the case that they leave with a certificate of authenticity in hand, freed from the curse.



Travel Period: July 2010
Destination: Oudewater (Utrecht), The Netherlands

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