Agatha Dietschi aka Hans Kaiser c. 1547
gouache on paper, 11 x 7 inches

Hans Kaiser, also found under the name Schnitterhensli, worked as a migrant farm laborer in the Danube valley of Germany. He was married to a woman named Anna Reuli, who was also a farm laborer. Within their community they were seen as a model couple in a happy marriage. In reality that was not the case.

Hans was arrested in Freiburg im Breisgau in 1547 after an investigation brought about by Anna.

Nearly two years into their marriage, Anna had discovered that Hans had once been known as Agatha Dietschi. Upon this discovery Anna apparently tried to convince Hans to go back to living as Agatha, even offering to procure Hans women’s clothing. Hans refused, declaring that he was bewitched and could never “live as a woman or love a man.” Despite this development in their relationship, they stayed married for eight years.

However, at some point Anna met Marx Gross. The relationship between Anna and Marx made Hans extremely jealous. Marx and Anna began threatening Hans with exposure in order to secure Anna a divorce. Eventually Anna revealed his secret, bringing about an investigation and an eventual trial.

At the trial, Anna (who had also been arrested) first said that she did not know that her husband was female, and then she admitted she had found out, but stayed quiet out of fear of the repercussions from the community. She also insisted that they had never had sexual intercourse. Hans, on the other hand, was found in possession of a “phallic tool” and admitted to using it numerous times with Anna. Witnesses also came forward having seen Anna and Hans engaged in “erotic play” in the barn. Marx came to Anna’s defense testifying that she was a virgin. The trial also revealed that Hans had been married before, both to a man (as Agatha) and to a woman.

The court may have believed that their marriage had not been consummated because not only is there is no record of a punishment for Anna, but Hans was sentenced to stand in the pillory with an iron collar and was banished from the city, a considerably light sentence given that similar situations were punished with execution during this time period.


Puff, Helmut. Sodomy in Reformation Germany and Switzerland, 1400-1600. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003.

Puff, Helmut. “The Sodomites Clothes: Gift-Giving and Sexual Excess in Early Modern Germany and Switzerland.” The Material Culture of Sex, Procreation, and Marriage in Premodern Europe. (2002): 251-272.

Simon-Muscheid, Katharina. “Geschlecht, Identität und Soziale Rolle: Weiblicher Transvestismus vor Gericht, 15. / 16. Jahrhundert.” Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Wirtschafts- und Sozialgeschichte 13 (1995): 45-57.