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Medieval Archives

MAP86: Alice Kyteler: The Witch of Kilkenny

Medieval Archives
Medieval Archives

It’s Halloween again, the air turns colder, the nights grow darker and spirits roam in the shadows. On this year’s Halloween episode we are traveling to the Emerald Isle. In 1324 Kilkenny, Ireland witnessed it’s first witchcraft trial and the first execution carried out by burning at the stake.

Alice Kyteler was a popular, beautiful inn keeper who's husbands had a bad habit of dying mysterious deaths. Her fourth and final husband, certain Alice was poisoning him, told his children and the church.

The zealous Bishop of Ossory, Bishop Ledrede, took up the case. He was a firm believer the devil walked among the people and made it his duty to banish evil. Ledrede beleived Alice Kyteler was not only a witch, but the leader of a coven of witches based in the Kilkenny area.

Alice Kyteler had powerful allies from her four marriages and her successful business. When Bishop Ledrede tried to have her arrested the tables were turned and Ledrede was thrown in jail.

When Ledrede was released from prison he resumed his case against Kyteler and her followers. The charges brought against Kyteler were murder, heresy, seeking advice from demons, sacrificing animals, making potions and having sexual relations with a demon.

Serious charges to be sure.

Could Ledrede prove them in court? Would Alice Kyteler be burned at the stake as a witch?

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