Maribor, Slovenia, during the Middle Ages, was deeply entrenched in the widespread witch hunts that pervaded Europe. Steered by fear and hysteria, these witch trials led to the execution of thousands, predominantly women, accused of practicing witchcraft.

A remarkable case unfolded in Maribor in 1546, marking a day of mass execution where ten individuals were burned at the stake. This event was far from isolated, with many instances where large groups faced death sentences simultaneously. Educated, well-read men often headed the courts, compelling victims to confess to supposed pacts with the devil. Accusations of witchcraft encompassed a broad spectrum of misfortunes, from diseases and natural disasters to poor harvests, with the frequency of witch burnings escalating during periods of significant social unrest.

Remarkably, the victims of these trials weren’t exclusively women. Approximately 15% of the accused were men, with accusations occasionally extending to children and priests. Interrogations were grueling and lengthy, often involving hours or even days of torture before a confession was elicited.

The phenomenon of witch trials in Maribor, and Slovenia more broadly, persisted until the 18th century. The last recorded witch burning in Slovenia transpired in the town of Krško in 1714. Despite Empress Maria Theresa’s edict formally outlawing witch burnings in the Austrian Empire, certain remote country courts continued the practice until 1746.

Today, the historical town of Ribnica hosts a museum, Miklova Hiša, which offers a permanent exhibition on witch burnings. This exhibition serves as a poignant reminder of this dark chapter in European history.