Kyteler, Dame Alice (ca. 1280–ca. 1325)
Fourteenth-century accused sorcerer of Kilkenny, Ireland,
of a good Anglo-Norman family. Members of her fourth husband’s
family, attempting to break the will that left her in control
of most of the family fortune, accused her of malevolent
magic. She was indicted by Bishop de Ledrede, but with her
connections and wealth she was able to defy the church. The
bishop, however, moved to excommunicate her. Kyteler responded
by imprisoning the bishop, who responded by indicting
the whole community.
However, the lord justice, who supported Kyteler, obliged
the bishop to lift his ban. The bishop eventually succeeded in
instituting a case against Kyteler and others accused with her
of sorcery, but she fled to England. Her maid Petronilla de
Meath was arrested and flogged, only after which she confessed
to various orgies involving Kyteler. Petronilla was excommunicated
and burned for her part in Kyteler’s supposed crimes at
Kilkenny on November 3, 1324. Kyteler eventually lost her estate
but spent the rest of her life peacefully in England. The
case is significant as the first witchcraft (i.e., sorcery) trial in
Ireland. A full account is printed as volume 24 in the series of
the Camden Society, England, under the title A Contemporary
Narrative of the Proceedings against Dame Alice Kyteler, prosecuted
for Sorcery in 1324, edited by Thomas Wright, 1843.
Robbins, Rossell Hope. The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology.
New York Crown Publishers, 1959.
Russell, Jeffrey Burton. Witchcraft in the Middle Ages. Ithaca,
N.Y. Cornell University Press, 1972.
Wright, Thomas, ed. A Contemporary Narrative of the Proceedings
Against Dame Alice Kyteler. 1843. Reprint, New York AMS
Press, 1968.

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