Dietrich Flade (?–1589). Probably the highest-ranking victim of any witch-hunt in European history, Flade was a prominent citizen of Trier, an archbishopric and also at that time an independent electoral principality of the German Empire. He was selected by the prince-archbishop to oppose the spread of Protestantism in the region and he became head of the secular courts. In 1580, he also became vice-governor of Trier, and in 1586, he was appointed as rector of the university there even though he was a layman and not a cleric.
In the 1580s, the number of witch trials in Trier began to escalate, apparently because of a period of bad weather, agrarian failures, and economic difficulties. At first, the secular courts, under Flade’s direction, were hesitant and cautious in cases of witchcraft. This, however, roused the opposition of more zealous witch-hunting authorities, notably the suffragan bishop of Trier, Peter Binsfeld.
Eventually, Flade himself was accused of witchcraft. He fled from Trier in 1588 but was captured and returned to the city. Put on trial in August of 1589, he confessed a month later and was executed.