Criminalis Carolina

Criminalis Carolina

Juliette van der Molen

why won’t you remember those
on Gallow’s Hill1, how they
hung and swung,
twitched and turned
unless they were lucky—
gifted with a hangman
adept at wrapping nooses
to snap necks
of those accused.

your blood lust demands
that they were tried by
fire, those witches,
my mother,
writhing in toxic
fumes, charred putrefaction
for the appeasement
of the holy.

O Constitutio Criminalis Carolina2
enter in the inquisition,
tamed into confession licked fire.

you won’t imagine tears
of a child,
me—
harbinger of death
from my birth cry,
stealer of souls,
life’s litany lost
inside the mouth
of my serpent familiar
coiled red-hot,
forked tongue a-flame.

O Constitutio Criminalis Carolina
inscribe history’s memory,
branding the woman i blamed.

1) This was the place where condemned witches from the Salem Witch Trials were taken to die by hanging, in accordance with English Law. (Source: Evan Andrews: Were witches burned at the stake during the Salem Witch Trials, The History Channel)

2) This was the first recognized body of German law which was enacted into law in 1532 during the Diet of Regensburg. This law defined certain crimes as severe and included the crime of witchcraft. It authorized the use of torture to gain confessions and was one of the earliest laws utlized during the inquisition. Punishment for being found guilty of this law was death by burning. (Source: Carnell, Elisabeth: Crimen Excepta: Torture, Jesuits and Witches in Early Seventeenth Century Germany)

Juliette van der Molen

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