Hundreds of Women Executed for ‘Witchcraft’ Were Just Pardoned

Catalonia’s regional parliament has pardoned over 700 women who were wrongly tortured and killed hundreds of years ago.
An illustration depicts a woman being burned at the stake for the crime of engaging in witchcraft.
An illustration depicts a woman being burned at the stake for the crime of engaging in witchcraft. Photo: Kean Collection/Getty Images

Catalonia’s regional parliament has pardoned hundreds of women who were executed for witchcraft between the 15th and 18th centuries, when more than 700 women were tortured and put to death.

“We are the heiresses of the witches, the poisoners and the healers,” said Jenn Díaz, a member of parliament representing the left-wing Esquerra party. “There has been an evolution – today they call us feminazis. There is a connection between witch hunts and femicide. We want reparation and an understanding that the past is not as distant as we think.”

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“We are holding a coven in Parliament,” Diaz added.

The chamber approved the pardon with 114 votes in favour, with the 21 votes against coming from the conservative People’s Party, and Vox, Spain’s increasingly popular far-right party. 

Similar pardons for women tortured and executed as ‘witches’ have also been made across Europe. In Switzerland, a posthumous pardon has been given to Anna Goeldi, the last "‘witch’ to be killed in Europe, 200 years after she was beheaded for a young girl’s death, while 120,000 Swiss francs have been earmarked towards a play about her life. In 2011, Norway unveiled its Steilneset Memorial in Vardø to commemorate 91 women executed for witchcraft in 1621.

The Scottish government is also expected to pass similar measures this summer.

As well as the pardons, the resolution in Catalonia also approved new research into those that were killed, as well as encouraging localities to revise some of their street names and consider dedicating them to women executed for witchcraft.