Friday, January 20, 2017

Belief In Witchcraft Causes Cold Blooded Murder France 1904

Mr. Daviot, a young farmer in Nievre Assizes, France Morvan District murdered his cousin Francis Daviot on August 8 1904. He was sentenced to five years of servitude on August 27.

According to the reports Daviot had a strong belief that his cousin was dabbling in witchcraft. The farmer had succumbed to many misfortunes which could not be explained. When his ill fortunes spread to his live stalk (several cows died suddenly and his horse had gone lame) Daviot paid a visit to a local sorcerer.

The sorcerer informed him that his cousin Francis had "the gift of  the evil eye," and the only way to break free of the curse was by "preforming sundry strange practices." No matter what rituals Daviot carried out he could not break the spell and his misfortunes continued. His superstition festered into paranoia.  

Daviot laid in wait for Francis on the night of August 8 and when his cousin passed he shot him with a revolver. Francis lived just long enough to mutter the name of his killer and Daviot was arrested later that night. 

Daviot confessed and his story won much sympathy at his trial which resulted in a sentence reduced to servitude rather than hard prison time.

Perhaps the sorcerer may have gotten his in the end! On the same day as the Deviot was sentenced a bricklayer named Merot from Saint-Georges-sur-Moulon (a few towns over) was being tried for beating the village sorcerer to death with a brick. 

His story always gained the sympathetic ears of the jury. Merot was acquitted.  

Apparently Merot was told that he was inflicted by his neighbors "evil eye," and the sorcerer would predict the misfortunes preyed on him from the neighbor's demonic powers. 

Merot confessed he was "goaded by terror and fear," as the sorcerer would pronounce wild predictions. He believed in the sorcery and the evil powers of his neighbor, but the fortune telling sessions left him with stomach aches and on two occasions with complete paralysis.

On the day of the murder Merot saw the sorcerer who said to him: "What! Not dead yet! You only have a week to live!" And as the saying goes: The messenger always gets killed!  

  • France Eugene Weber Harvard University Press 1986
  • "Slew Man With Evil Eye-French peasant resorts to Homicide over Superstition" The Inter Ocean Chicago August 28 1904
  • "An Extraordinary Trial" Mount Alexander Mail September 19 1902 
  • "Belief In Witchcraft. Causes Cold Blooded Murder of One Cousin by Another in Remote Section." Plain Dealer Cleveland Ohio August 28 1904
  • :Beat Sorcerer to Death!" The Muskogee Cimeter Oklahoma September 29 1904
  • "Power of the Evil Eye" London Chronicle London, England August 28 1904
  • Also reprinted in Harrisburg Daily Independent Harrisburg, Pennsylvania  August 30 1904

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