And she confessed to what?

…and in particular, she saw the Devil disguised as a man and seated on a grey looking chair and dressed (in colors) in between grey and black and with two big horns on top of his head. And upon this penitent woman’s arrival, the Devil lowered his head in a gesture of welcome. And he told her to kiss him on his lower parts. And this penitent woman did kiss him. And afterwards, the Devil told her to relax and be seated with those who were already there. And this penitent woman did so. And after a little while, they arose dancing, everyone dancing in circles with much contentment. And after having finished the dance, everyone went (in a line?) to kiss the Devil on the lower part under the tail. And after kissing him, everyone was seated and they ate bread and wine…

This translation of mine is only a section of the Inquisitorial record of María de Ulibarri’s confession to witchcraft in the year 1611. It is a good example of how complete confession and inquisitorial records were, and to what extent they would include minute details on the practices of witchcraft and interactions with the devil. From confessions like these, we know what inquisitors were looking for, but also know what it is that people thought witches did.

This document we were given this week is by far the hardest, with a sloppy and cramped handwriting style, but after reading it and comparing it to earlier weeks, I realized that even though there were more words that I couldn’t decipher, in the end my comprehension was just about as good. This scribe doesn’t use as many abbreviations as others did, which makes reading it more straightforward, but he does have a style of spelling all his own. Another difficult part was the proper names that appear later on in the record when she was asked to relate who she remembered seeing at the gathering with the Devil. I was able to get all the first names, but the last names were difficult. Nonetheless, by the end of the document (at least before the names), I was getting just about every word. This record was only the beginning of a longer record, and I am looking forward to the rest.

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