On the site today, I’d like to welcome back the amazing author Catherine Cavendish. She just happens to be one of my favorite Gothic and horror writers with whom I share a love of history and legend. It’s always a real treat for me when she releases a new book, as not only do I want to devour it, but also I get to host these wonderful articles that I hope historical and Gothic/horror readers will both enjoy. She’s just released a new book with Lyrical Undergroud (Kensington) called Wrath of the Ancients (Oct. 24) and you won’t want to miss this one. Perfect for a Halloween read. Enjoy reading about the life and trial of The Witch of Vienna….I’ll be back with a review of this book soon!
Elisabeth Plainacher – The Witch of Vienna
My latest book – Wrath of the Ancients – centres largely on sinister and ghostly activities within a magnificent haunted house in Vienna, Austria’s elegant and fascinating capital.
Vienna is the sort of city where ghosts walk by your side at night through quaint, winding streets in the old part of the city. Music forms the breath of the city and you can almost hear the haunting strains of The Blue Danube as you wonder at the grandeur of its many palaces.
But this isn’t by any means the whole story. In fact, you could travel a vast distance to find a more quirky, original and enigmatic city – but one with its own dark past.
Compared with many parts of Europe, Vienna’s history of witchcraft is relatively bloodless. Only one recorded execution of a convicted witch compared with hundreds in, say, Scotland.
Her name is variously given as Elisabeth, Elise or Elsa Plainacher and toward the end of the 16th century, she was living in Lower Austria where she had married and given birth to a daughter, Margaret. The girl grew up, married and bore four children of her own but, sadly, she died and Elisabeth took it upon herself to raise the children while Margaret’s husband went his own way.
More tragedy abounded when one after the other three of the children died. Elisabeth was a practising Lutheran and took her remaining granddaughter, Mary, to church every Sunday.
Mary grew into a teenager and developed epilepsy which was then seen as a devil’s curse. She was subject to Grand Mal seizures, and tongues began wagging. Meanwhile Margaret’s widower came back on the scene. He was a Catholic and started pointing the finger at Elisabeth, accusing her of practising witchcraft, casting spells on his sick daughter. Furthermore, he accused her of killing his three other children and murdering her own husband.
The case came to the attention of a fervent Jesuit priest – Georg Scherer – whose lifelong mission was to rid the world of witches. He examined the girl and performed a series of exorcisms, claiming to have released 12,652 demons from her body.
Scherer and his fellow priests pressured Mary to say that her grandmother kept demons in bottles in the form of flies and that she had used these to bewitch the girl. Finally, Mary broke down and said that Elisabeth had indeed bewitched her by giving her an apple infected by the devil. She had eaten it and had become possessed.
The bishop of Vienna, Kaspar Neubeck, arrested Elisabeth and tortured and questioned her until she too broke down and agreed that she had indeed fed her granddaughter the poisoned apple. Quite which forms of torture were used to extract such a bizarre confession are unrecorded but it doesn’t take too much imagination to conclude that she must have been under unbearable strain.
Having confessed to witchcraft, she was tied to a horse and dragged through the streets of Vienna to Richgasse. There she was bound to a stake and burned to death. The year was 1583 and she was 70 years old. Here in Vienna, at least, there were many who did not agree with the severity or nature of the punishment. Indeed, the mayor of Vienna found the woman’s confession so improbable that he appealed to the Emperor, Rudolf II to overturn it. But Georg Scherer remained steadfast and applied ecclesiastical pressure on the Emperor who, also being Holy Roman Emperor, found himself in an impossible situation. The mayor’s petition was denied. Scherer later preached a lengthy sermon urging the need for vigilance against the ever-present threat of witchcraft in all its many forms.
As for Elisabeth, she did at least have a couple of streets named after her – one in Vienna and the other in her home town of Mank.
Wrath of the Ancients, Synopsis –
Destiny In Death
Eminent archaeologist Dr. Emeryk Quintillus has unearthed the burial chamber of Cleopatra. But this tomb raider’s obsession with the Queen of the Nile has nothing to do with preserving history. Stealing sacred and priceless relics, he murders his expedition crew, and flees—escaping the quake that swallows the site beneath the desert sands . . .
Young widow Adeline Ogilvy has accepted employment at the mansion of Dr. Quintillus, transcribing the late professor’s memoirs. Within the pages of his journals, she discovers the ravings of a madman convinced he possessed the ability to reincarnate Cleopatra. Within the walls of his home, she is assailed by unexplained phenomena: strange sounds, shadowy figures, and apparitions of hieroglyphics.
Something pursued Dr. Quintillus from Egypt. Something dark, something hungry. Something tied to the fate and future of Adeline Ogilvy . . .
Purchase Wrath Of The Ancients –
Catherine Cavendish, Biography –
Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Catherine Cavendish is now the full-time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. She was the joint winner of the Samhain Gothic Horror Anthology Competition, with Linden Manor. Cat’s novels include the Nemesis of the Gods trilogy – Wrath of the Ancients, Waking the Ancients and Damned by the Ancients, plus The Devil’s Serenade, The Pendle Curse, Saving Grace Devine and many more. She lives with her long-suffering husband, and a black cat who has never forgotten that her species used to be worshiped in ancient Egypt. She sees no reason why that practice should not continue. Cat and her family divide their time between Liverpool and a 260-year-old haunted apartment in North Wales.
You can connect with Cat here:
Thank for sharing this with us, Cat!