The Great Nightmen Conspiracy explores the little-known magico-religious history of eighteenth-century Denmark.
Essential tasks carried out by the nightmen, such as dealing with carcasses and assisting with executions, generated contempt from the rest of society but also led to the nightmen becoming deeply feared because of the dark and magical forces associated with their occupation. The discovery of a dead peasant at the edge of the fjord on 4 December 1734 led to the arrest of the nightmen Mikkel and Hans in the nearby market town of Kalundborg in Zealand. In court, their interrogation focused not on the suspected murder but on thefts of livestock, immorality and other provocations committed by these socially ostracised nightmen. The court case became the largest of its time, implicating nightmen across half of Zealand and exposing divisions within society. This book uses a minutely researched set of incidents centring on the Danish "pariah caste" of nightmen to bring to light this unknown magico-religious side of Denmark.
Through microhistorical methodology, The Great Nightmen Conspiracy presents a detailed insight into the lives of the nightmen in Kalundborg and the society that constructed their alienation. It is ideal for academics and postgraduate students of microhistory and urban history.
Table of Contents
Introduction; Part one; 1: The missing peasant; 2: The nightmen conspiracy; 3: The prosecutor Niels Lind; Part two; 4: Dishonour as a profession; 5: Dishonour and magic; 6: The case of Morten Tailor; 7: The nightmen and the Christian community; 8: The sad tale of Hans Møller; 9: The Zealand underworld; 10: A den of thieves – the nightmen’s story; Part three; 11: In the dungeon: torture and escape; 12: The final sentence and its execution; 13: Niels Lind’s last battle with merchant Borthig; 14: What later befell the nightman family; Afterword
Tyge Krogh is a Senior Researcher at the Danish National Archives, Denmark. He has published titles on Danish early modern cultural and criminal history.