Vienna Possession (1583)


The Vienna Possession (1583) was about a teenaged girl possessed of more than 12,000 Demons, allegedly sent by her grandmother.

The Vienna Possession case has political overtones of anti-Protestant propaganda.

In 1583, a 16-year-old girl in the village of Manx near Vienna, Austria, began suffering from severe cramps. She was determined by local authorities to be possessed and was sent to Vienna to the Jesuit chapel of St. Barbara for Exorcism. After eight weeks of intense daily exorcisms, the priests succeeded in expelling 12,652 Demons, one of the highest numbers on record in Demonic possession cases. The thousands of Demons who had possessed her made her so heavy that she could scarcely be carried from place to place. The wagoner who transported her every day from the hospital to the chapel said that she seemed to be made of lead and iron, and the horses sweated profusely in pulling her cart.

The priests, of course, sought to assign blame. The girl told them that she was often in the company of her grandmother, Elisabeth Pleinarcher, who took her to Lutheran weddings and church services. The priests pressured her to state that Pleinarcher kept Demons in the forms of flies in a bottle, and she had used these against the girl. The confession enabled Kaspar Neubeck, the bishop of Vienna, to arrest Pleinarcher.

The 70-year-old woman was imprisoned and tortured until she said that her granddaughter’s story was true that she had accomplished the possession by sending the Devil into an APPLE that she had given the girl to eat. Pleinarcher also confessed to attending Sabbats for 50 years. She had copulated with the Devil in the forms of a cat, a goat, and even a ball of thread. Pleinarcher was tied to the tail of a horse and dragged through Vienna to the Richplatz, where she was burned alive.

Not long after the execution, a Jesuit priest, Georg Scherer, preached a lengthy sermon about the case, urging Viennese officials to increase their diligence against Witchcraft.


– Lea, Henry Charles. Materials toward a History of Witchcraft. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1939.

The Encyclopedia of Demons and Demonology – Written by Rosemary Ellen Guiley – Copyright © 2009 by Visionary Living, Inc.