The Moosham Castle The Cruelest Trial In Witch Hunt History

When we think about the European witch hunt, we think about the mediaeval period, but what if I told you one castle hosted children as its primary victims?

The Moosham Castle Purpose

The Austria spur castle can sit over a Roman fortress’ foundation. A spur castle is a term used to indicate a mediaeval fortress resting on the spur of a hill or mountain as a defence mechanism.

Another example is the Poenari Castle in Romania, which belonged to Vlad the Impaler. Usually, the only weakness of such a castle resides where the hill links to the spur from which it projects. It also means that the spur castle would have three sides by steep hillsides for the best protection.

Austria - Moosham Castle
Austria – Moosham Castle

The location of the Moosham Castle or Schloss Moosham in its original Germanic language is nearly eleven thousand metres high in the mountain—3’540 feet. The castle is in the Lungau region near Unternberg of Salzburg, Austria.

Prince Archbishops of Salzburg besieged the Moosham Castle around 1285, placing it right in the Dark Ages. But nobody knows who it originally belonged to, only that the castle went under construction in 1191.

TRIGGER WARNING! : Mediaeval Torture | Abuse | Children Abuse | Death.

Records Missing Where History Picked Up

As of the fourteenth century onwards, the castle served as a residence. Under the previous owners, the castle went under construction for extensions. During the German Peasants’ War of 1524-1525, they besieged the fortress after becoming an administrative seat in 1520 for the Lungau region.

Wandering Bands of Insurgents — German Peasants War
Wandering Bands of Insurgents — German Peasants War

It is worth noting that the witch hunt in Europe lasted for over three hundred years, and Austria was one of the cruellest places for those accused of witchery. 

However, its most infamous hosting was when Moosham Castle served as the administrative centre while the Zaubererjackl Witch Trials occurred. It took place between 1675 and 1690.

Death Is Never Enough For Anyone In History

While the trials executed a hundred and thirty-nine people, most of them males, many think the numbers not to be high, but the tragedy isn’t the number. 

Thirty-nine of those victims were between the tender age of ten and fourteen years old, fifty-three were merely teenagers at fifteen and twenty-one, and twenty-one had no record of their ages. A total of hundred and thirteen were of the male gender.

Torture Rack
Torture Rack

The youngest to suffer execution was Hannerl, at ten years old, and the oldest was Margarethe Reinberg, at eighty. Those people went through an evil amount of torture, including fire torture. 

Historians found a total of a hundred and nine victims that met their deaths in 1681. While some of them suffered at the stake alive, others got the noose before their bodies burned to ashes. But most victims had their hands cut off first after receiving an iron brand to mark them as witches.

Torture Is The Best Way To Get A False Confession

It was in the year 1675 that a witch and thief named Barbara Kollerin confessed through torture that her son made a pact with Satan. Her husband, Paul Kalthenpacher, confirmed the allegation as he was also tortured at the time.

Knight Hall
Knight Hall

The mother and partner described Paul Jacob Koller, a twenty-year-old boy and son of an executioner’s assistant. Barbara taught him the ways of ‘begging’ and the not-so-legal profession of theft and fraud. 

Because of her ‘career,’ Barbara Kollerin met her execution in August 1675. As for her son, a warrant for his arrest spread out, and he became Witch Jackl and Magician Jackl.

The Trial Of A Jackl Who’s Reputation Grew Too Dark

A twelve-year-old disabled beggar boy named Dionysos Feldner, or ‘Dirty Animal,’ was under arrest. He confessed to having contact with Jackl three weeks earlier. In fact, he explained that out of the poor beggar children and teenagers from the slum gang, Jackl was the leader and taught black magic.

Because of Dirty Animal’s confession, mass arrests of homeless children and teenagers occurred. It created a mass hysteria that spread through the entire archbishopric.

More folklore regarding Jackl surfaced during the interrogation of the captive homeless children. What would one expect when exposing children to torture? The children would say that Jackl could turn invisible and order rodents to do his bidding so it could ruin the harvests of farmers.

The homeless children portrayed the young man as a murderer, and the stories kept darkening around Jackl. His reputation turned so evil that officials preferred avoiding crossing paths with Jackl. He became the most famous witch in their town’s history. Jackl is the one that got away, and maybe for the best.

But the witch trial continued, and the mass arrest of the homeless, beggars, poor children and teenagers grew. They accused those children of causing the lousy weather that took place years before their arrest. Those acting in groups became the primary target.

Hello, Darkness, My Old Friend

Sebastian Ziller was the prosecutor and judge in the Salzburg Witch Trials. Because everyone believed Jackl to be dead, the question asked during the witch trial was, “Did you know the witch, Jackl?” 

That was a preferred question. However, if Sebastian Ziller wasn’t satisfied, torture would follow, as dwellers believed it to be the method to expel the devil out of those accused so they could speak the truth.

However, some victims were capable of enduring the pain of the torture they inflicted upon them. They would confess nothing, insinuating they were witches or bad people. 

Salzburg — Austria
Salzburg — Austria

They would endure extreme mediaeval torture and remain silent. Torture was a method to speed up a trial and get what the tribunal wanted from those accused. Torture was an instrument, a tool, but some people endured rather than submit.

Then again, there was no way to win once accused of witchery. If under torture, the demons leave, and you confess, you’re guilty. If you endure the torture, the devil possesses you, and you’re guilty. 

Once arrested, there was almost no way out of the torture and death sentence. Children, teenagers, adults, pregnant women, elderly, no one was safe during the witch hunt.

The Witch Hunt Was The Blind Leading The Blind

The Moosham Castle served as a harsh and cruel tribunal for those accused of witchery. While not the only castle to welcome trials of this sort, it became one of the most infamous because of the young age of the accused.

Torture and death were common in Europe during the three hundred years of witch trials. It happened among Catholic and Protestant communities alike. However, the worst of those trials would occur in the smaller communities away from bigger cities. Salzburg was one of those smaller communities where the Moosham Castle sat.

The Testing Of A Witch By Weight
The Testing Of A Witch By Weight

Another common trait of the witch trials would vary in popularity among the villagers. Something would often link the times it would gain traction with lousy weather or diseases. The Moosham Castle was no exception to that rule, but the pattern didn’t strike the villagers as a possible result of their fear. Someone had to pay for poor harvests and illnesses.

The disproportion in those accused of witchery was also a factor that didn’t catch anyone’s attention. While those in charge of the landmark wanted clean streets, it was in their favour that villagers would accuse them of witchery. 

The targets were beggars, thieves, the homeless, the elderly, and widows. Those without futures or provenance, orphans, were the primary victims of the witch hunt.

The Haunting Of An Infamous Castle

While the Moosham Castle now belongs to a private owner, its history in the haunting and paranormal community is exceptionally rich in itself. Home of lies, forced confessions, torture, and false accusations. The castle became a connection between the living and the dead.

It isn’t uncommon for any building to retain energy from the past. A residual left behind by those who came and gone within the walls of said building. 

The Moosham Castle became a place of torment and lamentation, pure Hell for those accused of witchery. Often trauma is the leading cause of hauntings, and the castle knew at least a hundred and thirty-nine deaths.

Horror - Silhouette
Horror – Silhouette

Before private ownership of the castle, Moosham Castle was a tourist attraction in Austria. The most popular place for its visitors was the torture chamber. 

There is a morbid aspect to it and a historical moment of learning about what humans can inflict upon one another. The greatest lesson here is that education and knowledge are the keys to avoiding such atrocities.

People who visited the castle shared their paranormal encounters with series such as Ghost Adventures and Ghost Hunters, among others. The site is alive and drenched in the blood of those who died wrongly and want peace. That is often what those who visited the haunted castle would report.

An Intelligent Residual Haunting

An intelligent residual haunting is a contradiction in itself. An intelligent haunting occurs when the entity is aware of its death and makes itself known to those present. On the other hand, residual haunting happens in a loop. It’s like a glitch that always plays the same sequence repeatedly.

Why do I call Moosham Castle home of both hauntings? Because it saw so many people that it is quite possible that while some are aware of their deaths, others might not be. Both hauntings are possibilities and not uncommon on traumatic grounds. The reports left by those who encountered the entities vary.

Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau Salzburg
Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau Salzburg

The Moosham Castle saw the entire witch trials in Austria. Yet, its most infamous moment was the Jackl trial, where children were victims. I don’t know if some of them became their own martyrs, but they surely deserve the title. Justice is supposed to be blind, not brainless.

Some believed the witch hunt to be the precursor of what would occur in the world wars. It was like a warning of what would come to pass if we didn’t change our thinking. I am not someone who has great hope for humanity. I’m more of a nihilistic person and misanthrope. I love ancient history because I see the similarities between the past and present and find it ironic.

Moosham Castle is no different to me. It is a ground of infamy in history and a site for morbid eyes. Sadly, only a little more is available in records and historical archives because of its location.

The OCD Vampire

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