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(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

In England, during the persecutions, a confession alone carried little weight. As evidence of witchcraft guilt, the English courts sought concrete proof, such as devil's marks. But in Continental Europe, confessions were a major part of the prosecution process. Indeed, obtaining a confession was in many cases of primary importance, since there was frequently very little in the way of concrete evidence. But exactly how the confession was obtained was irrelevent.

The Malleus Maleficarum of 1486, by the two monks Jakob Sprenger and Heinrich Kramer, presumed the guilt of anyone charged with witchcraft and advocated torture to obtain a confession. Part Three of their infamous work dealt with "how the trial is to be proceeded with and continued, whether the witch is to be imprisoned; what is to be done after the arrest; points to be observed by the Judge before the formal examination in the place of detention and torture; how she must be questioned; the continuing of the torture; how they are to be shaved in those parts where they use to conceal the Devil's marks and tokens; various means of overcoming their obstinacy in keeping silence and refusal to confess; the trial by red-hot iron; the manner of pronouncing sentence. . . ." Torture was a necessary part of the investigation and the "continuing of the torture" was to ensure a full confession.

In the first half of the seventeenth century, Friedrich von Spee tried to slow the hysterical persecutions. A German Jesuit, he wrote Cautio Criminalis (Cologne, 1632) in which he said that even the healthiest of witches had "affirmed that no crime can be imagined which they would not at once confess to if it could bring down ever so little relief and they would welcome ten deaths to escape repetition." He further stated "a single innocent person, compelled by torture to confess guilt, is forced to denounce others of whom she knows nothing; so it fares with these, and thus there is scarcely an end to accusers and accused, and, as none dares retract, all are marked for death."

During the Salem witch trials in New England, torture was not supposed to be applied. Yet there were varying degrees of duress, such as keeping the accused awake for many days and nights without sleep, starving her, and beating her. Confession was important to the authorities. If the accused pleaded (whether guilty or not guilty was immaterial) they could lay claim to all personal property and possessions. No trial could proceed until the accused had pleaded. Giles Cory, an eighty-yearold farmer, was aware of this point and consequently, when he was charged, he refused to say a word. His wife, Martha, had been charged and found guilty. To try to make Giles talk, the court subjected him to the peine forte et dure (literally, "a penalty harsh and severe," the only time in American history that this punishment has ever been inflicted). This entailed laying him on the ground and piling rocks on his body. But Giles held out until he was finally crushed to death under the weight of the rocks.

An immediate confession to a charge of witchcraft was no guarantee against torture. The accused would be tortured anyway, to confirm the confession. Having obtained a confession, the authorities might then allow the victim to partially recover before repeating their questions. This second confession allowed them to say that it had been obtained without duress, even though it was invariably made out of fear of further torture.


Rousseau (1712–1778) reveals details of an erratic and rebellious life. [Fr.Lit.: Benét, 218]
References in periodicals archive ?
Finalement, on pouvait faire ce qu'on voulait puis apres se confesser.
Meme dans sa premiere rencontre avec Romuald a l'eglise, elle a l'audace de lui confesser son desir de le posseder: "Si tu veux etre a moi, je te ferai plus heureux que Dieu lui-meme dans son paradis; les anges te jalouseront.
On the reverse side, it was also revealing to find that words such as vaisseau, confesser, passe, and lasser were geminated by at least one subject.
Plessis insistait sur les << fonctions sacerdotales >> : precher, catechiser et confesser (p.
Et toi que les fenetres observent la honte te retient D'entrer dans une eglise et de t'y confesser ce matin Tu lis les prospectus les catalogues les affiches qui chantent tout haut Voila la poesie ce matin et pour la prose il y ales journaux II y ales livraisons a 25 centimes pleines d'aventures policieres Portraits des grand hommes et mille titres divers
First, it risks doing for the novel what the novel explicitly refuses to do for itself; its epigraph, taken from Stevenson, is, after all, "II est plus honnete de confesser immediatement a quel point je suis peu accessible au desir d'exactitude" (9).
Avec l'apotre Paul, l'assemblee est invitee a confesser << lorsque je suis faible, alors je suis fort >>.
Premierement, le vaudou est charge d'une serie de stereotypes negatifs aux Etats-Unis et au Canada, les personnes interrogees ne peuvent donc s'y apparenter que difficilement (ou bien confesser leur foi).
Il est vrai que la repulsion qu'inspirent les cadavres est souvent exploitee: Charles le Temeraire, alias le Solitaire dans le roman eponyme du vicomte d'Arlincourt--l'un des plus grands succes romanesques de la Restauration, qui rendait jaloux un Lucien de Rubempre fraichement arrive a Paris--, choisit de confesser ses crimes dans un "monument voute d'ossements humains; entre des colonnes formees de squelettes entasses" (2: 92), Han d'Islande boit dans un crane humain, etc.
Les bureaucraties modernes ont invente toutes sortes de moyens pour mesurer la foi, la confiance en l'avenir: celle des consommateurs, en leur faisant avouer leurs intentions d'achat, celle des investisseurs en leur faisant confesser le niveau de risque qu'ils sont prets a assumer avec l'argent des epargnants, qui croient eux-memes a leur tour leurs capitaux a l'abri.