Medieval Europe could be a frightful place for a woman of strength, especially one with the wisdom of a midwife and the proclivities of a healer. Intensified by her status as an elderly widow in 16th-century Germany, Walpurga Hausmännin made the perfect witch. Accused of over 40 heinous crimes against children including vampirism and murder, her graphic confessions were even more shocking, bringing forth stories of demonic sex, cannibalism, and heresy. But the historical question remains: was she in league with evil spirits or just an unfortunate figure caught in a maelstrom of puritanical fear? Either way, the story of Walpurga Hausmännin provides an unforgettable glimpse into the dark mythology of witchcraft and the horrific violence that made it real.
Living as a respectable midwife for almost 20 years, Walpurga Hausmännin was a fixture in the Bavarian town of Dillingen until that fateful day when she was accused of witchcraft. Although it's unclear who started the rumor, suspicion grew when she delivered several stillborn infants in a short period of time - a tragic situation that drew the attention and fear of her provincial community.
As gossip began to fly, Hausmännin’s reputation grew, and she soon found herself in chains, facing serious charges of maleficia for infanticide, destruction of the harvest, and the death of her neighbor’s cattle. “Kindly questioning” soon gave way to severe torture, and it wasn’t long before Hausmännin buckled under the pain and admitted everything, offering one of the most disturbingly detailed confessions in the history of witchcraft.
According to her own admissions, her bond with the devil had been forged some thirty years before, in 1556, when she sought the company of a neighbor in the lonely days following her husband’s death. Through flirtation and provocative behavior, she convinced the man to meet her for a lover’s tryst at her home nearby. But when the agreed-upon evening arrived, it wasn’t her neighbor who appeared, but rather a demon in disguise named Federlin who tricked her into having sex with him.
After intercourse, she felt his cloven hoof - cold and hard like a piece of wood - and she knew he was a figure of evil. In her fear, she called upon the name of Jesus and the devil immediately fled.
The rest of her confession was enough to curl the toenails of even the most amoral citizen, an unraveling of a sorceress's darkest secrets. As expected, Federlin appeared the next night and took Hausmännin again, promising her security and protection if she pledged herself to him body and soul. She did, and they sealed the filthy pact with a toast, drinking wine and dining on the roasted flesh of an innocent child. Despite her protests, she was persuaded to serve the Devil in many ways, seeking the destruction of her neighbors, their children, and their livelihood.
Federline appeared constantly, forcing her to have sex in public places and giving her an evil ointment to be used in her machinations against others. Hausmännin confessed to injuring both animals and people by secretly rubbing the wicked salve on the bodies of young mothers at her mercy and on pristine newborn infants under her care, all of whom died soon thereafter. She admitted to killing many children during her time as a midwife, infecting them with her villainous medicine and even sucking their blood with other witches, afterward using their hair and bones in her diabolical spells.
Shocking as her confession was, what proved most revolting to her community was her brazen rejection of God. Hausmännin had apparently not only killed countless innocents with her sorcery, but she had smuggled out church sacraments and symbols (using them in black masses with the devil) and had renounced all of Christendom along with any chance of salvation.
Sex with a demon was one thing, but offering the Body of Christ to the Evil One was beyond comprehension for the folks of 16th-century Bavaria, and the imperial court along with the Archbishop of Augsburg immediately sentenced her to death. Her property was confiscated, and she was imprisoned in the local dungeon to await her day of execution.