A secret tribunal that during the Middle Ages, exercised a
peculiar jurisdiction in Germany and especially in Westphalia.
Its origin is uncertain. The sessions were often held in secret,
and the uninitiated were forbidden to attend them on pain of
death. Various stories have been circulated concerning the
group, but these have been discounted by modern research.
Far from dabbling in the occult, these courts frequently punished
persons convicted of witchcraft and sorcery (malevolent