Sixty-year-old Maria Bertoletti Toldini wasn’t an extraordinary woman, but she was accused of incredibly terrible things. Living in Brentonico, Italy, she was a childless widow who remarried before she was arrested in August 1715 and accused of witchcraft. Though it is unclear who first pointed a finger in her direction, Toldini was found guilty by a secular tribune of crimes like the murder of children, damaging a local vineyard, blasphemy, and heresy. Her accusers went as far to say that she put a 5-year-old in a pot of boiling cheese, and Toldini was beheaded and burned in a public square. Now a council has decided to rehear the trial of Toldini — 300 years later.
After watching a theatrical re-enactment of her story, local culture minister Quinto Canali was moved to clear her name. “There was a murder that was not justified, that should not have happened. They killed a person with motivations that didn’t exist. She was innocent,” he said. “If you let something go that happened 300 years ago, maybe you will let something go that happens now. The past is yesterday, but it is also 300 years ago.” His effort has received the support of Brentonico’s mayor, Christian Perenzoni, who said there is value in a retrial because the case was one among many similar “historic injustice[s] against women.” Historians believe that between 50,000-60,000 people were killed for witchcraft in Europe between the 15th and 18th centuries.
Read the full story at The Guardian.