January 2, 1621
Quedlinburg, Saxony, Holy Roman Empire (current day Germany)
Heinrich Rosenzweig kills his wife and six children with a sword and axe

Rosenzweig was a Jew in a time and place that saw much antisemitism, so the validity of the account is debatable. The woodcut-illustrated account of the murder reports Rosenzweig, a wealthy baker, was an alcoholic and a chronic gambler. After losing a large sum of money playing dice, Rosenzweig supposedly called upon the Devil for more money with which to gamble. The Devil appeared and, while he did not need the money, Rosenzweig took the Devil’s money to gamble further. He lost all of it. “Completely mad and senseless,” Rosenzweig then went home and slaughtered his family with a sword and axe.

Rosenzweig was tortured and executed for the murders, his flesh pulled from his body with hot pincers before he was executed in the breaking wheel where his body remained on public display for some time.

Image source:
Sing, Jacob. “News of Heinrich Rosenzweig, Who Murdered page 18 His Wife and Six Children in Quedlinburg, Saxony, 2 January 1621.” Woodcut, circa 1621 (http://www.zeno.org/Kunstwerke/B/Singe,+Jacob%3A+Nachricht+von+Heinrich+Rosenzweig)

Wiltenburg, Joy. Crime and Culture in Early Modern Germany. University of Virginia Press, 2012
Ruff, Julius R. Violence in Early Modern Europe 1500-1800. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001

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