The horrors of the Inquisition, which operated for several centuries in Europe and America, are well known to all of us since our school days. But we know almost nothing about the hunt for domestic witches. Were there witches in Russia, and if so, how at ease they felt where there was no Catholic church court with its tortures and bonfires.
In the West, the conversation with witches and sorcerers was short - a slight suspicion was enough for a person to be seized, brutally tortured and, having snatched out a confession, sent to the fire, gallows or a whirlpool. People were killed and sometimes unusual appearance, strange behavior and even hostility of neighbors became the reason for the reprisal.
In Russia, everything was different - we have never had an organized witch hunt and, moreover, mass executions. We had a more complicated attitude towards witches, sorcerers, sorcerers and seers. By no means always a person engaged in magic was not only executed, but even condemned by rumor. But, as history shows, witches could not feel absolutely safe with us either.
Witchcraft in our country was condemned by the church at all times - it was considered a sinful and unworthy deed. But, unlike Europe, they turned a blind eye to sorcerers and healers in Russia, if, of course, they did not create problems for anyone. Among the people, people with secret knowledge and supernatural abilities were respected and feared.
At the same time, it was customary among the people to turn to sorcerers for help. In the villages, a witch or a healer was the only person who could help a sick person, heal livestock, and give practical advice on personal matters. The witch did not always act using otherworldly forces - often the help was applied and based on knowledge of herbs, natural phenomena and the properties of minerals.
But they were relatively loyal only to paths, healers and seers who did not encroach on church canons with their activities. The use of church utensils, symbols or books in witchcraft rites could be a good reason to accuse the magician of heresy or apostasy.
Heretics in Russia were much more likely to be tortured and executed than witches. The trials of the Old Believers are well known, who in the 17th century did not recognize the church reform and therefore were accused of heresy.
Many more of these people were burned at church fires than witches and sorcerers. The apostates were executed differently than in Europe. Instead of a pillar and brushwood, a wooden frame was used, in which several sentenced prisoners could be placed at once and burn them together.
Special cases can be considered situations when a witch was accused of causing harm to people, pets or crops. In these cases, both ecclesiastical and secular courts were ruthless to the accused.
Moreover, the suspect of sabotage or, God forbid, murder, had a good chance not to live up to any official trial at all. The human trial was simple and quick - a witch or a sorcerer was drowned in a sack, burned right in the house, or simply beaten to death.
If a person accused of witchcraft dangerous to life or health fell into the hands of justice, then first the secular authorities dealt with him, and only then the church authorities. Indicative is the case of the peasant woman Martha Koroleva, who in 1752 was accused of causing damage.
This girl was a serf of a military brigadier - a stern man and quick to reprisal. The officer's daughter had an affair with a serf, and her father, upon learning of this, ordered the gentleman to be flogged with whips.The queen was on friendly terms with the punished and therefore decided to take revenge.
During interrogation at the police office, the girl said that they wanted to kill the master. To do this, she took out the trail of the foreman from the ground, sentencing him to get sick and die. We also found out that the Queen also spoke water so that another courtyard girl named Domna was in a bad mood.
But the most terrible crime of the peasant woman was a conspiracy for a crop failure, which she confessed when she was interrogated with passion. Martha broke several ears of corn in the field while casting a spell. In the chancellery, they reasoned quite sensibly that it was not for them to judge such lofty matters as damage and spells, and they handed the witch over to the church court.
After the serf was tried by the Belgorod bishop, who was extremely categorical and quickly sentenced the girl to be burnt in a log house. But since in the 18th century the church was not authorized to execute, Martha Koroleva was sent back to the secular authorities to carry out the sentence. After that, her traces are lost, but it seems to us that the "witch" got off with a good flogging, since in those days, quite enlightened, for witchcraft, by the verdict of the court, they were no longer burned.
In Russia, in the Middle Ages, witches caught on spoilage were treated in a completely different way. An almost detective story of the 17th century has come down to us, concerning the family of the first sovereign from the Romanov family - Mikhail Fedorovich. His second wife, Evdokia Streshneva, was terrified of the evil eye, damage or any other witchcraft for illness or death.
The queen was constantly in search of obvious or indirect signs of witchcraft, and if she found them, she immediately took action. As soon as the empress discovered a suspicious bun of hair or a cunningly twisted thread, she was mistaken for prayers and slander, and the found "witchcraft" things were rolled into church candles and burned to the accompaniment of psalms.
All the servants, without exception, were under the suspicion of the queen, and one day her finest hour struck. The gold seamstress Daria Lomanova once invited an unknown woman to her place, whom none of the royal courtyards knew.
They whispered for a while, and after the stranger left, Daria asked the tsar's servants to keep quiet about this meeting. To be more convincing, Lomanova handed out to people the scraps left over from the manufacture of the royal tablecloth.
On the evening of the same day, a gold embroiderer stole from the workshop a piece of linen intended for sewing shirts for tsar's children. Lomanova behaved strangely - having covered her head with this canvas, she sat down on a cart and went alone somewhere across the Moskva River. Of course, no bribes prevented the courtyards from denouncing Daria, and soon she and the closest friend of the gold seamstress Avdotya Yaryshkina were arrested by the sovereign's people.
During the first interrogation, it turned out that Daria stole the fabric for profit, and went in a cart to her secret lover. But it was not so easy for her to get out and after some physical influences the witch confessed everything. Lomanova said that she wanted to destroy the queen, for which she secretly followed her and sprinkled ashes on her tracks.
The case took a serious turn and already smelled like an attempt on the life of the reigning person. Lomanova and the innocent Yaryshkina were hung up on their hind legs and began to be interrogated with even greater partiality. No wonder that when the joints of the women’s hands were twisted, other confessions fell out of them. The gold seamstress remembered a certain path Nastasya, who taught her witchcraft.
Soon, a witch brought from Zamoskvorechya was also in the torture basement. Nastasya practiced conspiracies for love and consent, helping to reconcile spouses and get reciprocity from gentlemen.
Lomanova went on a cart to her then to meet with her lover - a pathway rented a corner in her house for love pleasures. But these confessions were not enough, and they took the pimp no less seriously than the servants.
They began to torture Nastasya and she said that she taught Lomanova to burn the canvas from the children's shirts of the Tsarevichs and sprinkle ashes on the tracks of the Queen so that she would respond positively to petitions and be angry for nothing. It seemed that everything fell into place - Daria rode across the river to secretly indulge in fornication, and conjured in order to get privileges.
But once they got into the basement to the interrogators and the foremen, it was not so easy to get out so easily. The girls were reared back again, and new confessions poured out of them like peas. As a result, in just a few hours, a whole witchcraft conspiracy was revealed against the queen and her offspring, with the participation of several witches and witches.
So in the basement were residents of Moscow Manka Kozlikha, Ulka, Dunka and Feklitsa. These women were also tortured to find out what and why they did to the detriment of the royal family. To the disappointment of the investigation, it turned out that the women were not at all aware of the events and the case was at an impasse. The whole gang of sorcerers, pretty shabby, had to be released, making a strict suggestion to keep quiet.
But the story of the Kremlin sorcerers did not end there. Just a year after the events described, in 1639, two tragedies occurred one after the other in the royal family. First, the young Tsarevich Ivan died, and just two months later, his brother, Tsarevich Vasily.
The entire witchcraft company, led by the gold embroiderer Daria, was again thrown into the basement and began to be interrogated with addiction and witchcraft and other malicious intent. It all ended with Ulka and Nastasitsa giving their souls to God, unable to withstand the torture, and the rest of the witches went on foot to explore the new Siberian possessions of the Russian crown.
As we can see, despite the harsh times and the severity of the burden of suspicion, in Russia everything was not as neglected as in Germany, France or Spain, and the witches had a small chance to justify themselves. Needless to say - the Russian people have always been distinguished by their kindness, easygoingness and a thirst for truth.
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