Making a deal with the Devil — did Daniel Salthenius succeed in January 1718?

Thomas Arctaedius
5 min readJan 21, 2021
Saint Augustine and the devil. Public Domain.

On Sunday the 30th of January 30 1718, Daniel Salthenius enters into a pact with the Devil. He writes a note with his own blood, walks into the woods close to his home, the Clergy house in the small village Markim north of Stockholm and puts up the note on the parish’s sacred and magical old oak.

The Clergy house in Markim Januari 2021, Photo:Thomas Arctaedius

“I Daniel Salhtenius do with you Satan this Contract, which is That You shall now soon give me the Black Book, and leave her by this Oak, that I tomorrow when Icome here, find her, or instead of her, a purse that is never empty of Rixdaler Caroliner and fifty cent pieces inside. Then I promise you to serve you in my lifetime and after my death belong to you with body and soul. Anno 1718, 30 January”

The pact written in blood, photo by T. Arctaedius.

In exchange for Daniel‘s soul, Daniel wants the big book of spells (the Black Book) and a purse that should always contain money, like a small cornucopia.

It goes badly for Daniel — the note is discovered; the local police are called in and Daniel is brought to justice. The punishment for covenants with the devil was death at that time. The trial was held at the old courthouse near Daniel’s home. The district chief was Petter Abrahamsson, a tough judge but an experienced district chief, who 9 years later would be knighted by Sweden’s King Fredrik the 1st.

The judge sighs and reads —”You Daniel Salthenius, in accordance with the royal decree on oaths and Sabbath break of 1687, Article 1 §9, has been sentenced to death by this district court. Decapitation must be carried out.”

But now Daniels luck turns. Since he is a student at Uppsala University and a minor, the sentence must be determined by the university’s consistory. The consistory considers Daniel’s youth, the fact that Daniel was unusually gifted and converts the death penalty to one month in prison on water and bread.

Thomas Arctaedius

Professor in entrepreneurship, PhD in Nuclear Physics. Entrepreneur and researcher. From Stockholm Sweden