This Day In Crime History

August 7, 1620: Katharina Kepler arrested for witchcraft in Germany

Katharina was the mother of the famous astronomer Johannes Kepler.

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In 1615, a witch trial was initiated by a man named Lutherus Einhorn. He was the Vogt of the town of Leonberg. He had accused 15 women of sorcery. Eight of them were executed. He issued an arrest of Katharina that same year after a woman named Ursula Reinbold accused her of giving her a potion after an argument. The potion allegedly made her sick. She was also accused of killing animals and of turning herself into a cat.

Johannes Kepler defended his mother himself during her trial. He often abandoned his own work to help her. Johannes discovered that planets move in ellipses, and he also discovered the three laws of planetary motion. And, he was a very good son. He even took his mother away to Linz, Germany in 1616. Four years later, though, she returned to Leonberg where she was arrested on August 7. She was sent to jail for a year and two months. In prison, Katharina was attached with an iron chain to a floor of a cell and tortured mercilessly. 

In October 1621, her astronomer son was able to get her released from prison. 

Witch hunts were rampant in Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries. It is believed that around 50,000 people were executed as so-called witches between 1500 and 1700.

[Photo: Flickr]

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