Moosham Castle

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Mass Arrest of Homeless Children, Charged as Witches

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Moosham Castle served as the administrative center during the Zaubererjackl witch trials. In 1675, Barbara Kollerin was put on trial for theft and sorcery in Salzburg together with one Paul Kalthenpacher. During torture, she confessed that her son, Paul Jacob Koller, had a pact with Satan. Her partner, Kaltenbacher, confirmed this and described Jacob as a man of 20, the son of an executioner's assistant. Barbara was to have taught him the "profession" of begging, theft and fraud. Barbara Kollerin was executed in August 1675. The authorities issued a warrant for the arrest of her son. He became known as Wizard Jackl or Magician Jackl or Jäckel. In 1677, the government said to have received the news that Jackl was dead. They had arrested the beggar boy Dionysos Feldner, a handicapped 12-year-old who was called "Dirty animal", and who was to have had contact with Jackl three weeks earlier. The boy confessed that Jackl was the leader of gangs of poor beggar-children and teenagers from the slum, whom he taught black magic. This led to mass arrests of homeless children and teenagers. The hysteria spread to the entire archbishopric. During the interrogations of the captive beggar-teenagers, the confessions of the prisoners lead to more and more myths about Jackl. He was claimed to be able to make himself invisible and enchant mice and rats, which ruined the harvests of the farmers. He was portrayed as a murderer and the rumors eventually made him so cruel that the officials preferred to avoid capturing him. He was the most famous wizard in the city's history, but he was never captured himself. The witch trial, on the other hand developed into a great hunt of beggars, homeless and poor children and teenagers. Especially gangs were targeted. Many were accused of having caused some of the bad weather from the previous years.
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Moosham Castle (German: Schloss Moosham) is a medieval castle near Unternberg in the Lungau region of Salzburg, Austria. The spur castle is situated at a height of 1,079 metres (3,540ft).

Possibly built on the foundations of a Roman castrum fortress, the castle was first documented in an 1191 deed. It was seized by the Prince-Archbishops of Salzburg about 1285 and from the 14th century onwards served as the residence of an episcopal burgrave. Under the rule of Prince-Archbishop Leonhard von Keutschach from 1495, the castle was rebuilt and extended. In 1520, it became an administrative seat of the Lungau region and was besieged during the German Peasants' War of 1524–25. Archbishop Wolf Dietrich Raitenau stayed here on his flight from Salzburg in October 1611, shortly before he was captured.

Moosham Castle served as the administrative center during the Zaubererjackl witch trialsbetween 1675–1690. These trials led to the execution of 139 people. Unusually, most of those executed were male. Among those executed, 39 were children (between 10 and 14 years old), 53 were teenagers and young adults (between 15 and 21), 21 of unknown age; 113 were of male gender; everyone except two were beggars. The youngest was Hannerl, 10 years old, and the oldest was Margarethe Reinberg, 80 years old. 109 were executed during 1681. They were tortured and burned; some of them alive, others after having been hanged or decapitated – some of them after having had their hands cut off and marked with a burning iron.

Archbishop Count Hieronymus von Colloredo dissolved the Moosham bailiwick in 1790, whereafter the castle decayed. In 1886, the Austrian explorer and patron of the arts Count Johann Nepomuk Wilczek purchased the ruin and had it restored. Up to today, the complex is private property, though its rooms featuring Wilczek's extensive art collection are accessible to the public.

This article was initially translated from the German Wikipedia.

Coordinates: 47°06′07″N 13°42′22″E / 47.102°N 13.706°E / 47.102; 13.706


Wikipedia Article
  • English: Moosham Castle, Unternberg Austria
  • English: Moosham castle in Unternberg, Austria
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