Kyteler, Dame Alice (ca. 1280-ca. 1325)

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Kyteler, Dame Alice (ca. 1280-ca. 1325)

Fourteenth-century accused sorcerer of Kilkenny, Ireland, of a good Anglo-Norman family. Members of her fourth husband's family, attempting to break the will that left her in control of most of the family fortune, accused her of malevolent magic. She was indicted by Bishop de Ledrede, but with her connections and wealth she was able to defy the church. The bishop, however, moved to excommunicate her. Kyteler responded by imprisoning the bishop, who responded by indicting the whole community.

However, the lord justice, who supported Kyteler, obliged the bishop to lift his ban. The bishop eventually succeeded in instituting a case against Kyteler and others accused with her of sorcery, but she fled to England. Her maid Petronilla de Meath was arrested and flogged, only after which she confessed to various orgies involving Kyteler. Petronilla was excommunicated and burned for her part in Kyteler's supposed crimes at Kilkenny on November 3, 1324. Kyteler eventually lost her estate but spent the rest of her life peacefully in England. The case is significant as the first witchcraft (i.e., sorcery) trial in Ireland. A full account is printed as volume 24 in the series of the Camden Society, England, under the title A Contemporary Narrative of the Proceedings against Dame Alice Kyteler, prosecuted for Sorcery in 1324, edited by Thomas Wright, 1843.


Robbins, Rossell Hope. The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology. New York: Crown Publishers, 1959.

Russell, Jeffrey Burton. Witchcraft in the Middle Ages. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1972. Wright, Thomas, ed. A Contemporary Narrative of the Proceedings Against Dame Alice Kyteler. 1843. Reprint, New York: AMS Press, 1968.