The Great Nightmen Conspiracy: A Tale of the 18th Century’s Dishonourable Underworld, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Great Nightmen Conspiracy

A Tale of the 18th Century’s Dishonourable Underworld, 1st Edition

By Tyge Krogh


176 pages

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Hardback: 9781138324008
pub: 2019-09-10
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The Great Nightmen Conspiracy explores the little known magico-religious history of 18th 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 4th December 1734 led to the arrest of the nightmen Mikkel and Hans in the nearby market town of Kalundborg on 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 centering 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

About the Author

Tyge Krogh is a Senior Researcher at the Danish National Archives, Denmark. He has published titles on Danish early modern cultural and criminal history.

About the Series


Microhistories is open to books employing different microhistorical approaches. Global microhistories aimed at grasping world-wide connections in local research, social history trying to find determining historical structures through a micro-analysis and cultural history in the form of microhistories that relate directly to large or small scale historical contexts are equally welcome. We will also publish interesting stories, bringing the everyday life and culture of common people of the past close to the readers, without the aspiration of finding answers to general "big questions" or relating them to the grand narratives of history. In other worlds, we plan to have the quality of the manuscript deciding its fate. The series is open to publishing both theoretical and empirical works. It is, indeed, often hard to separate the two, especially in microhistory. However, our main focus will be on empirical monographs which are likely to communicate stories from the past which will capture the imagination of our readers. The geographical scope of the series is global and so non- European works or those which cross territorial boundaries are welcome. Any scholar who wishes to contribute to the series will be asked to make sure that they address important issues that can be researched with the methods of microhistory.

For more information about the series and the proposal process, please contact the series editors, Sigurður Gylfi Magnússon ( and István M. Szijártó (

The members of the editorial board are the following scholars: Andrew Bergerson, Simona Cerutti, Chuanfei Chin, Dagmar Freist, Carlo Ginzburg, Binne de Haan, Karl Jacoby, Giovanni Levi, Edward Muir, Matti Peltonen, Hans Renders, Jacques Revel, and Dana Sajdi.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
HISTORY / Europe / General
HISTORY / Modern / 17th Century
HISTORY / Modern / 18th Century
HISTORY / Europe / Scandinavia