29 October 1390

The first trial for witchcraft in Paris leads to the death of three people.

The witch trials in France provide a particularly interesting and unique case study of witch-hunting in Europe during the early modern period. Although the region had an early history of witch accusations and executions in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, during the pinnacle of the trials in Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, France had a relatively low involvement compared to many other regions.[i] In fact, aside from isolated trials and cases of demonic possession, there was only one large-scale witch-hunt in France during the early modern period. Unlike in countries such as Scotland[ii] and Sweden where widespread, nearly ubiquitous hysteria and collective action prompted large numbers of prosecutions and executions in various towns and villages, the theories and actions of individual men were primarily responsible for promoting and executing the trials in France. The strong tradition of widely disseminated French demonological theory, which had a significant effect on trials both domestically and in other areas of Europe, was largely a product of a small group of powerful, elite demonologists such as Pierre de Lancre and Nicolas Remy. These same men also had a key role in perpetuating witch belief and even presiding over trials in the regions under their jurisdiction.