les sans pagEs, sorcières, Wikipedia

Resurrection of an Interractive Witch Map

Let’s face it, the interactive witch map was not feeling cozy on Wikipedia (the francophone one). It struggled and produces strange jargon : « the time allotted for running scripts has expired ».

And as a result it was removed from Wkipedia because no one knew how to fix it, even after submitting the issue during the Wikitechstorm in November 2019. But oh, miracle, during a Wikimidi, the weekly online meeting of les sans pagEs, the magic of the collective allowed a solution to emerge: let’s publish it on our website, you know, the one we use too little!

And so we are « thrilled and excited » (to put an american touch to our frenglish accent hoping this will prompt mass sharing for our map) to present you with a disorderly presentation of versions of the famous map. The map fetches the data entered on Wikidata (by the way, if you know of a person executed or condemned for witchcraft, send it to us, along with the references) and then, thanks to the power of geolocalisation,it allows you to visualise them all!

Interractive witch map of people executed or condemned as witches

You can click on the little red dots which will take you on a journey through Wikidata and Wikipedia articles about witches in several languages (English, French, Spanish and German) when the articles exist.

Cartography of scottisch witches’ occupation

Map of executed witches by gender

So where can one find the old map showing the people executed according to their gender? Well, for that you have to go back to the francophone Wikipedia where an old version of the map has been put back online.

Alas this one resist to deportation to WordPress (wink wink looking for a tech person to come and help us solve this). It is currently not updated, because beyond 600 witches (roughly I don’t remember the exact number) the system can’t keep up and generates the famous error message « the time allowed for the execution of scripts has expired ».

So the only solution at the moment is to generate a static map that remains with non-updated data…. Everybody is perfect!

However, this previous version did some cool stuff that I can’t resist to talk about here :

It would give the link to the related Wikipedia articles in several languages if they exist, and it would even show a popo up with a witches pic like this :

Example of an image that appears when hovering over a geolocated point representing the place of death of a person accused of witchcraft

It showed men convicted of witchcraft in green and women in red (some might be happy for the sake of non binarity of the disappearance of this feature), and added a white dot when there was a corresponding Wikipedia article.

This is what it looked like :

Map of people executed for witchcraft in Europe
Map of people executed for witchcraft in the world generated from data imported from Wikidata

Other wikidata generated maps can show witches by date of execution:

One finds very ancient documented cases of people ostracised for witchcraft. for example, Empress Chen Jiao, in China, died in 110 BC, or in Greece, Theoris of Lemnos is another occurrence.

In the course of our work we found a few odd things, like the discovery that in Iceland we have almost only men executed for witchcraft, although it is not clear whether this is because we have not yet recorded women or because a majority of men have been sentenced (a little nudge here if you – yep you- know about this!).

Mapping of executed witches in Iceland, with green dots representing male persons.

There are also very few witches in Brittany (and Vigneron, a fellow wikipedian and wikidata evangelist tried hard to find one, he thought we had forgotten his home region) :

On the other hand, a large number of people were executed along the Alpine arc, many in Switzerland and Germany :

The witch-hunt in Europe began in 1428 in Sion, Wallis, with a large percentage of prosecuter men at the beginning. One of the emblematic cases is undoubtedly that of Pierre and Nycolin de Torrenté in 1481, victims of the concupiscence of Walter Supersaxo, Prince Bishop of Sion, who confiscated their property after their public execution (they were burned at the stake) and installed his illegitimate son at the head of Val de Bagnes. The descendants of Torrenté, wishing to clear their name, asked an archivist from the Ecole des Chartes, Chantal Amman, to research their ancestor in 15th century notarial deeds stored until very recently in the cathedral chapter of Sion.

Other wikidata generated maps present witches by date of execution:

One can find ancient documented cases of persecuted witches : Chen Jiao, in China 110 BFC Theoris de Lemnos in Grease.

All this work was done with the help of people involved in the francophone Wikipedia project: JohnNewton8, Touam, Viking59, Tatakdh and our dedicated cartographer 0x010C (I’m sure I’m forgetting some) as well as all the people who entered the data for this map on Wikidata.

If you find a forgotten witch and want to get invloved mapping here are a few projects :