Catharina Linck aka Anastasius c. 1687-1721 Prussia
gouache on paper, 11 x 7 inches
In the collection of the Davis Museum at Wellesley College

Catharina Margaretha Linck aka Anastasius Lagrantinus Rosenstengel was executed for sodomy in Prussia in 1721.  The trial records from the Prussian Secret State Archives were published in 1891 by Dr F. C. Müller and translated into English by Brigitte Eriksson in 1980.

Catharina or Anastasius lived sometimes as a man, sometimes as a woman, and was employed variously as a prophet, a soldier or a textile worker.  Anastasius married Catharina Margaretha Mühlhahn at the age of 23. The marriage was tumultuous, but they stayed together for four years. It was Mühlhahn’s mother who eventually turned them in to authorities. At the trial Catharina insisted that Mühlhahn and her mother knew “the truth” before their marriage. Mühlhahn was sentenced to three years in prison and then banished from the country. Catharina was convicted of sodomy with a “lifeless instrument,” for wearing men’s clothes and for being baptized multiple times. 

The court deliberated over an appropriate punishment, debating over the use of a “lifeless instrument” and the criminal nature of female sodomy. At the time, death by sword or burning alive were punishments for male or female sodomy. Some jurists were unsure if the death penalty should apply to female sodomy since no “fleshly union” had occurred.  The final verdict was left to king Frederick William I who ordered Catharina Linck beheaded and the body burned.


Crompton, Louis.  Homosexuality & Civilization.  Harvard University Press, 2003.

Eriksson, Brigette. “A Lesbian Execution in Germany, 1721: The Trial Records” Journal of Homosexuality Fall-Winter; 6.1-2 (1980 -1981): 27- 40.

Norton, Rictor. “Catharina alias Anastasius”, Lesbian History, 1 Aug. 2003, updated 13 June 2008.

Rupp, Leila J.  Sapphistries: A Global History of Love Between Women.  New York University Press, 2009.

Zagria.  “Anastasius Lagrantinus Rosenstengel (1694 - 1721) button maker, prophet, soldier.” Web blog post.  A Gender Variance Who’s Who: Essays on trans, intersex, cis and other persons and topics from a trans perspective. Blogspot, 26 Sept. 2010. 2010.