VOLUME III - [continued]
SORCERY AND OCCULT ARTS.
FEW things are so indestructible as a superstitious belief once fairly implanted in human credulity. It passes from one race to another and is handed down through countless generations; it adapts itself successively to every form of religious faith; persecution may stifle its outward manifestation, but it continues to be cherished in secret, perhaps the more earnestly that it is unlawful. Religion may succeed religion, but the change only multiplies the methods by which man seeks to supplement his impotence by obtaining control over supernatural powers, and to guard his weakness by lifting the veil of the future. The sacred rites of the superseded faith become the forbidden magic of its successor. Its gods become evil spirits, as the Devas or deities of the Veda became the Daevas or demons of the Avesta; as the bull-worship of the early Hebrews became idolatry under the prophets, and as the gods of Greece and Rome were malignant devils to the Christian Fathers.
Europe thus was the unhappy inheritor of an accumulated mass of superstitions which colored the life and controlled the actions of every man. They were vivified with a peculiar intensity by the powerful conception of the Mazdean Ahriman--the embodiment of the destructive forces of nature and the evil passions of man--which, transfused through Judaism and adorned with the imaginings of the Haggadah, became a fixed article of the creed as the fallen prince of angels, Satan, who drew with him in rebellion half of the infinite angelic hosts, and thenceforth devoted powers inferior only to those of God himself to the spiritual and material perdition of mankind. Omnipresent, and well-nigh omnipotent and omniscient, Satan and his demons were ever and everywhere at work to obtain, by cunning arts, control over the souls of men, to cross their purposes, and to vex their bodies. The food of these beings was the suffering of the damned, and human salvation their most exquisite torment. To effect their objects human agents were indispensable, and Satan was always ready to impart a portion of his power, or to consign a subordinate demon, to any one who would serve him. Thus a dualistic system sprang up, less hopeful and inspiring than that of Zarathustra Spitama, which in its vivid realization of the ever-present and ever-acting Evil Principle, cast a sombre shadow over the kindly teachings of Christ. Some even held that human affairs were governed by demons, and this belief grew sufficiently prevalent to induce Chrysostom to undertake its refutation. He admitted that they were inspired with a fierce and irreconcilable hatred for man, with whom they carried on an immortal war, but he argued that the evil of the world was the just punishment inflicted by God. *
Man thus lived surrounded by an infinite world of spirits, good and bad, whose sole object was his salvation or his perdition, and who were ever on the watch to save him or to lure him to destruction. Thus was solved the eternal problem of the origin of evil, which has perplexed the human soul since it first began to think, and thus grew up a demonology of immense detail which formed part of the articles of faith. Almost every race has shared in such belief, whether the evil spirits were of supernatural origin, as with the Malazdeans and Assyrians, or whether, as with the Buddhists and Egyptians, they were the souls of the damned seeking to gratify their vindictiveness. Although Greece and Rome had no such distinctive class, yet had they peopled the world with a countless number of genii and inferior supernatural beings, who were accepted by Christianity and placed at the service of Satan. As theology grew to be a science in which every detail of the dealings of God with man was defined with the most rigid precision, it became necessary to determine the nature and functions of the spirit world with exactitude, and the ardent intellects which framed the vast structure of orthodoxy did not shrink from the
* Minuc. Felicis Octavius (Mag. Bib. Pat. Ed. 1618, III. 7, 8).-- Tertull. dc Idololat. x.-- Lactant. Divin. Instit. II. 9.-- Augustin. de vera Relig. c. 13, c. 40 No. 75; De Genesi ad Litt. xi. 13, 17, 22, 27; Sermon. Append. No. 278 (Edit. Benedict.).-- Gregor. PP. I. Moral. in Job IV. 13, 17, 32.-- Chrysoston. de Imbecillitate Diaboli Homil. I. No. 6.
task. The numberless references to the character and attributes of demons in patristic literature show how large a space the subject occupied in the thoughts of men and the confidence which was felt in the accuracy of knowledge concerning it. *
Origen informs us that every man is surrounded by countless spirits eager to help or harm him. His virtues and good deeds are attributable to good angels; his sins and crimes are the work of demons of pride and lust and wrath, and of all passions and vices. Powerful as these are, however, the human soul is still superior to them and can destroy their capacity for evil; if a holy man baffles the spirit of lust who has tempted him, the conquered demon is cast into outer darkness or into the abyss, and loses his potency forever. This was received throughout the Middle Ages as orthodox doctrine. Gregory the Great tells us how the nun of a convent, walking in the garden, ate a lettuce-leaf without making the cautionary sign of the cross, and was immediately possessed of a demon. St. Equitius tortured the spirit with his exorcisms till the unhappy imp exclaimed, "What have I done? I was sitting on the leaf and she ate me;" but Equitius would listen to no excuse and forced him to depart. Cæsarius of Heisterbach relates a vast number of cases proving the perpetual interference of demons with human affairs, though he asserts as a well-known fact that Satan drew with him only one tenth of the hosts of heaven, and he proceeds to show, on the authority of Gregory the Great, that at the Day of Judgment the saved will be nine times as numerous as the devils, and of course the damned greatly more in excess; yet at the death-bed of a monk of Hemmenrode fifteen thousand demons gathered together, and at that of a Benedictine abbess more assembled than there are leaves in the forest of Kottinhold. Thomas of Cantimpré, though less profuse in his illustrative examples, is equally emphatic in showing that man is surrounded with evil spirits, who lose no opportunity to tempt, to seduce, to mislead, and to vex him. The blessed Reichhelm, Abbot of Schöngau, about 1270, had received from God the gift of being
* Minuc. Felic. loc. cit.--Tertull. Apol. adv. Gentes c. 22.-- Lactant. Divin. Instit. v. 22.-- Testam. XII. Patriarch. I. 2-3.-- Augustin. de Divin. Dænon. c. 3, 4, 5, 6; de Civ. Dei xv. 23, xxi. 10; Enarrat. in Psalm. 61, 63.-- Isidor. Hispalens. Lib. de Ord. Creatur. c. 8.
able to discern the aerial bodies of these creatures, and often saw them as a thick dust or as motes in a sunbeam, or as thickly falling rain. He describes their numbers as so great that the atmosphere is merely a crowd of them; all material sounds, water falling, stones clashing, winds blowing, are their voices. Sometimes they would materialize as a woman to tempt him, or as a huge cat or a bear to terrify him, but their efforts were mostly directed to diverting the thoughts from pious duties and contemplations, and to inciting to evil passions, which they could well do, as an innumerable army was assigned to each individual man. These enemies of man were ever on the watch to take advantage of every unguarded thought or act. Sprenger tells us that if an impatient husband says to a pregnant wife, "Devil take you," the child will be subject to Satan; such children, he says, are often seen; five nurses will not satisfy the appetite of one, and yet they are miserably emaciated, while their weight is great. Thus man was at all times exposed to the assaults of supernatural enemies, striving to lead him to sin, to torture his body with disease, or to afflict him with material damage. We cannot understand the motives and acts of our forefathers unless we take into consideration the mental condition engendered by the consciousness of this daily and hourly personal conflict with Satan. *
It is true that all demons were not equally malignant. The converted Barbarians of Europe could not wholly give up their belief in helpful spirits, and as Christianity classed them all as devils, it was necessary to find an explanation by suggesting that their characters varied with the amount of pride and envy of God which they entertained before the fall. Those who merely followed their companions and have repented are not always mali-
* Origen. sup. Jesu Nave Homil. XV. 5, 6.-- Ivon. Carnotens. Decret. XI. 106. -- Pselli de Operat. Dæmon. Dial.--Gregor. PP. I. Dial. I. 4.-- Cæsar. Heisterb. Dial. Dist. IV., V., XI. 17, XII. 5.-- B. Richalmi Lib. de Insid. Dæmon. ( Pez Thesaur . Anecd. I. II. 376).-- S. Hildegardæ Epist. 67 ( Martene Ampl. Coll. II. 1100). -- Mall. Maleficar. P. II. Q. 1. c. 3. It was not every one who, like St. Francis, when demons were threatening to torment him, could coolly welcome them, saying that his body was his worst enemy, and that they were free to do with it whatever Christ would permit--a view of the case which so abashed them that they incontinently departed.-Amoni, Legenda S. Francisci, Append. c. liii.
cious. Cæsarius tells us of one who faithfully served a knight for a long while, saved him from his enemies, and cured his wife of a mortal illness by fetching from Arabia lion's milk with which to anoint her. This aroused the knight's suspicions, and the demon confessed, explaining that it was a great consolation to him to be with the children of men. Fearing to retain such a servitor, the knight dismissed him, offering half of his possessions as a reward, but the demon would accept only five sous, and these he returned, asking the knight to purchase with them a bell and hang it on a certain desolate church, that the faithful might be called to divine service on Sundays. Froissart's picturesque narrative is well known of the demon Orton, who served the Sieur de Corasse out of pure love, bringing to him every night tidings of events from all parts of the world, and finally abandoning him in consequence of his imprudent demand to see his nocturnal visitor. Froissart himself was at Ortais in 1385, when the Count of Foix miraculously had news of the disastrous battle of Aljubarotta in Portugal the day after it occurred, and the courtiers explained that he heard of it through the Sieur de Corasse. Thus, for good or for evil, the barriers which divided the material from the spiritual world were slight, and intercourse between them was too frequent to excite incredulity. *
It was inevitable that this facility of intercourse should encourage belief in the Incubi and Succubi who play so large a part in mediæval sorcery, for such a belief has belonged to superstition in all ages. The Akkads had their Gelal and Kiel-Gelal, the Assyrians their Lil and Lilit, and the Gauls their Dusii, lustful spirits of either sex who gratified their passions with men and women, while the Welsh legends of the Middle Ages show the continuance of the belief among the Celtic tribes. The Egyptians drew a distinction and admitted of Incubi but not of Succubi. The Jews accepted the text concerning the sons of God and daughters of men ( Gen. VI. 1) as proving that fruitful intercourse could occur between spiritual and human beings, and they had their legends of the evil spirit Lilith, the first wife of Adam, who bore to him the innumerable multitude of demons. The anthropomorphic mythology and hero-worship of Greece consisted of little else, and the
* Cæsar. Heisterb. III. 26, V. 9, 10, 35, 36.-- Froissart, III. 22.
name of Satyr has passed into a proverb. The simpler and purer Latin pantheon had yet its Sylvans and Fauns, who, as St. Augustin tells us, "are commonly called Incubi." The medical faculty in vain explained the belief by Ephialtes or nightmare, and recommended for it belladonna rather than exorcisms. Though St. Augustin, who did so much to transmit pagan superstitions to succeeding ages, hesitates to believe in the possibility of such powers on the part of aerial spirits, even he dares not deny it, and though Chrysostom ridiculed it, other authorities accepted it as a matter of course. Thus it came to be received as a truth which few thought of disputing. In 1249 an incubus child was born on the Welsh marches, which in half a year had a full set of teeth and the stature of a youth of seventeen, while the mother wasted away and died. The belief grew still more definite as perfected processes of trial enabled judges to extort from their victims whatever confessions they desired, such as that of Angèle de la Barthe, who, in the Toulousain in 1275, admitted that she had habitual intercourse with Satan, to whom, seven years before, at the age of fifty-three, she had borne a son--a monster with a wolf's head and a serpent's tail, which she fed for two years on the flesh of year-old babies whom she stole by night, after which it disappeared; or those of the witches of Arras, in 1460, who were brought to confess that their demon lovers wore the shapes of hares, or foxes, or bulls. Innocent VIII. asserts the existence of such connections in the most positive manner, and Silvester Prierias declares that to deny it is both unorthodox and unphilosophical, and could only be prompted by sheer wantonness. *
Liaisons of this kind would be entered into with demons, and
* Fr. Lenormant, La Magie chez les Chaldéens, p. 36.-- Plutarch. vit. Numæ, rv.-- Joseph. Antiq. Jud. I. 3.-- Augustin. de Civ. Dei III. 5; XV. 23.-- Gualt. Mapes de Nugis Curialium Dist. II. c. xi., xii., xiii.-- Paul. Æginet. Instit. Med. III. 15.-- Chrysost. Homil. in Genesim XXII., No. 2.-- Clem. Alexand. Stromat. Libb. III., V. ( Ed. Sylburg. pp. 450, 550).-- Tertull. Apol. adv. Gentes, c. xxii.; De Carne Christi c. vi., xiv.-- Hincmar. de Divort. Lothar. Interrog. XV.-- Guibert. Noviogent . de Vita sua Lib. III. c. 19.-- Cæsar. Heisterb. III. 8, 11, 13.-- Gervas. Tilberien . Otia Imp. Decis. III. c. 86.-- Matt. Paris. ann. 1249 (p. 514).-- Chron. Bardin. ( Vaissette, IV. Pr. 5).-- Mémoires de Jacques Du Clercq, Liv. IV. c. 8.-Innoc. PP. VIII. Bull. Summis desiderantes, 2 Dec. 1484.-- Silv. Pricriat. de Strigimagar. Lib. I. C. 2; Lib. II. C.
would be maintained with the utmost fidelity on both sides for thirty or forty years; and the connection thus established was proof against all the ordinary arts of the exorciser. Alvaro Pelayo relates that in a nunnery under his direction it prevailed among the nuns, and he was utterly powerless to put a stop to it. In fact, it was peculiarly frequent in such pious establishments. As a special crime it grew to have a special name, and was known among canonists and casuists as Demoniality; and Sprenger, whose authority in such matters is supreme, assures us that to its attractiveness was due the alarming development of witchcraft in the fifteenth century. The few who, like Ulric Molitoris, while admitting the existence of Incubi, denied to them the power of procreation, were silenced by the authority of Thomas Aquinas, who explained how, by acting alternately as Succubus and Incubus, the demon could accomplish the object, and by the indubitable facts that the Huns were sprung from demons, and that an island in Egypt, or, as some said, Cyprus, was peopled wholly by descendants of Incubi, to say nothing of the popular legend which attributed such paternity to the prophet and enchanter, Merlin. Into the physiological speculations by which these possibilities were proved, it is not worth our while to enter. There is nothing fouler in all literature than the stories and illustrative examples by which these theories were supported. *
As Satan's principal object in his warfare with God was to seduce human souls from their divine allegiance, he was ever ready with whatever temptation seemed most likely to effect his purpose. Some were to be won by physical indulgence such as that just alluded to; others by conferring on them powers enabling them apparently to forecast the future, to discover hidden things, to gratify enmity, and to acquire wealth, whether through forbidden
* Gianfrancesco, Pico della Mirandola, La Strega, Milano, 1864, p. 80.-- Thomæ Cantimpratens , Bonum universale, Lib. II. C. .55.-- Alvar. Pelag. de Planct. Eccles. Lib. II. Art. xlv. No. 102.-- Prieriatis de Strigimagar. II. iii., xi.-- Sinistrari de Dæmonialitate No. 1-3.-- Mall. Maleficar. P. II. Q. i. c. 4-8; P. II. Q. ii. c. 1.-Ulric. Molitor. Dial. de Python. Mulieribus Conclus. v.-- Th. Aquin. Summ. I. li. Art. iii. No. 6.-- Nider Formicar. Lib. v. c. ix., x.-- Guill. Arvern. Episc. Paris. de Universo ( Wright, Proceedings against Dame Alice Kyteler, Camden Soc. p. xxxviii.).-- Villemarqué Myrdhinn, ou l'Enchanteur Merlin, p. 11.- Alonso de Spina , Fortalicium Fidei, Ed. 1494, fol. 282.
arts or by the services of a familiar demon subject to their orders. As the neophyte in receiving baptism renounced the devil, his pomps and his angels, * it was necessary for the Christian who desired the aid of Satan to renounce God. Moreover, as Satan when he tempted Christ offered him the kingdoms of the earth in return for adoration--" If thou therefore wilt worship me all shall be thine" ( Luke IV. 7)--there naturally arose the idea that to obtain this aid it was necessary to render allegiance to the princes of hell. Thence came the idea, so fruitful in the development of sorcery, of compacts with Satan by which sorcerers became his slaves, binding themselves to do all the evil they could encompass and to win over as many converts as they could to follow their example. Thus the sorcerer or witch was an enemy of all the human race as well as of God, the most efficient agent of hell, in its sempiternal conflict with heaven. His destruction, by any method, was therefore the plainest duty of man.
This was the perfected theory of sorcery and witchcraft by which the gentile superstitions inherited and adopted from all sides were fitted into the Christian dispensation and formed part of its accepted creed. From the earliest periods of which records have reached us there have been practitioners of magic who were credited with the ability of controlling the spirit world, of divining the future, and of interfering with the ordinary operations of nature. When this was accomplished by the ritual of an established religion it was praiseworthy, like the augural and oracular divination of classic times, or the exorcism of spirits, the excommunication of caterpillars, and the miraculous cures wrought by relics or pilgrimages to noted shrines. When it worked through the invocation of hostile deities, or of a religion which had been superseded, it was blameworthy and forbidden. The Yatudhana, or sorcerer of the Vedas, doubtless sought his ends through the invocation of the Rakshasas and other dethroned divinities of the conquered Dasyu. His powers were virtually the same as those of the medieval sorcerer: with his yatu, or magic, he could encompass the death of his enemies or destroy their harvests and their herds; his kritya, or charmed images and other objects, had an evil influence which could only be overcome by discovering
* Tertull. de Corona c. iii.
and removing them, exactly as we find it in the Europe of the fifteenth century; while the counter-charms and imprecations employed against him show that there was virtually no difference between sacred and prohibited magic. * The same lesson is taught by Hebrew tradition, which admitted that wonders could be wrought by the Elohim acherin, or "other gods," as instanced in the contest between Moses and the Chakamim, or wise men of Egypt. The Talmudists inform us that when he changed his rod into a serpent Pharaoh laughed at him for parading such tricks in a land full of magicians, and sent for some little children who readily performed the same feat, but the failure of Jannes and Jambres to cope with him when he came to the plague of the lice was because their art would not extend to the imitation of things smaller than a barleycorn. The connection between their magic and the worship of false gods is seen in the legend that it was Jannes and Jambres who fabricated for Aaron the golden calf. A similar indication is seen in the Samaritan tradition that the falling away of the Hebrews from the ancient faith was explicable by the magic arts of Eli and Samuel, who studied them in the books of Balaam, gaining thereby wealth and power, and seducing the people from the worship of Jehovah. †
How great was the impression produced on the surrounding nations by the powers of the Egyptian Chakamim is shown by the later Jews, who, familiar as they were with the mysteries of the Magi and Chaldeans, yet declared that of the ten portions of magic bestowed upon the earth, nine had fallen to the lot of Egypt. That kingdom therefore furnishes naturally enough the oldest record of a trial for sorcery, occurring about 1300 B.C., showing that the use of magic was not regarded as criminal of itself, but only when employed by an unauthorized person for wrongful ends.
* Rig Veda V. VIII. iv. 15, 16, 24 ( Ludwig Rig Veda, Prag, 1876-8, II379, III. 345).-- Atharva Veda II. 27, III. 6, IV. 18, V. 14, VI. 37, 75 ( Grill, Hundert Lieder des Atharva Veda, Tübingen, 1879).
† Polano, Selections from the Talmud, pp., 174, 176.-- Augustin. de Trinitate Lib. III. C. 8, 9.-- Targum of Palestine on Exod. i.; vii. 11; Numb. xxii. 22.-- Fabricii Cod . Pseudepig. Vet. Testam. I. 813; II. 106.-- Chron. Samaritan. xli., xliii.
Curiously enough, the fame as magicians of Moses and of his opponents was preserved together. Pliny ( N. H., xxx. 2) attributes the founding of what he calls the second school of magic to "Moses and Jannes and Lotapes."
The proceedings in the case recite that a certain Penhaiben, a farm superintendent of cattle, when passing by chance the Khen, or hall in the royal palace where the rolls of mystic lore were kept, was seized with a desire to obtain access to their secrets for his personal advantage. Procuring the assistance of a worker in stone named Atirma, he penetrated into the sacred recesses of the Khen and secured a book of dangerous formulas belonging to his master, Raameses III. Mastering their use, he soon was able to perform all the feats of the doctors of mysteries. He composed charms which, when carried into the royal palace, corrupted the concubines of the Pharaoh; he caused hatred between men, fascinated or tormerited them, paralyzed their limbs, and in short, as the report of the tribunal states, "He sought and found the real way to execute all the abominations and all the wickedness that his heart conceived, and he performed them, with other great crimes, the horror of every god and goddess. Consequently he has endured the great punishment, even unto death, which the divine writings say that he merited." *
Hebrew belief, which necessarily served as a standard for orthodox Christianity, drew from these various sources an ample store of magic practitioners. There was the At, or charmer; the Asshaph, Kasshaph, Mekassheph, the enchanter or sorcerer; the Kosem, or diviner; the Ob, Shoel Ob, Baal Ob, the consulter with evil spirits, or necromancer (the Witch of Endor was a Baalath Ob); the Chober Chaber, or worker with spells and ligatures; the Doresh el Hammathim, or consulter with the dead; the Meonen, or augur, divining by the drift of clouds or voices of birds--the "observer of times" of the A. V. ; the Menachesh, or augur by enchantments; the Jiddoni, or wizard; the Chakam, or sage; the Chartom, or hierogrammatist; the Mahgim, or mutterers of spells; and in later times there were the Istaginen, or astrologer; the Charori, or soothsayer; the Magush, Amgosh, or enchanter; the Raten, or magus; the Negida, or necromancer; and the Pithom, inspired by evil spirits. There was here an ample field in which Christian superstition could go astray.
Greece contributed her share, although of strictly Goetic magic
* Talmud Kiddushin Babli, fol. 49b ( Wagenseilii Sota, pp. 502-3).-- Thonissen , Droit Criminel des Anciens, II. 222 sqq.
--the invocation of malignant spirits or the use of illicit means for wrongful ends--there was little need, in a religion of which the deities, great and small, were subject to all the weaknesses of humanity, were ready at any moment to inflict on man the direst calamities to gratify their love or their spleen or their caprice, and could be purchased by a prayer or a sacrifice to exercise their omnipotence irrespective of justice or morality. In such a religion the priest exercises the functions which in purer faiths are relegated to the sorcerer. Yet it is only necessary to mention the names of Zetheus and Amphion, of Orpheus and Pythagoras, of Epimenides, Empedocles, and Apollonius of Tyana to show that both tradition and history taught the existence and power of thaumaturgy and theurgy. * This theurgy was developed to its fullest extent in the marvels related of the Neo-Platonists, thus directly influencing Christian thought, which necessarily ascribed its miracles to the invocations of demons. † Yet by the side of all this there was no lack of Goetic magic, such as the legends attribute to the Cretan Dactyls or Curetes, to the Telchines, to Medea, and to Circe. ‡ This is said to have received a powerful impetus in the Medic wars, when the Magian Osthanes, who accompanied Xerxes, scattered the seeds of his unholy lore throughout Greece. Plato speaks with the strongest reprobation of the venal sorcerers who hire themselves at slender wages to those desirous of destroying enemies with magic arts and incantations, ligatures, and the figurines, or waxen images, which have always been one of the favorite resources of malignant magic, and which in Greece wrought their evil work by being set up in the cross-roads, or affixed to the door of the victim or to the tomb of his ancestors. Philtres, or love-potions, which would excite or arrest love at will
* Hesiod. Frag. 202.--Pherecyd. Frag. 102, 102a.--Pansan. VI. XX.; IX. xviii., XXX.--Apollodor. I. ix. 25.-- Plut. de Defectu. Orac.13; de Pythize Orac.12.-Diog. Laert. VIII. ii. 4; viii. 20.-- Iambl. Vit. Pytha. 134-5, 222.- Philost. Vit. Apollon. passini.--Æl. Lamprid. Alex. Sever. xxix.-- Flav. Vopisc. Aurelian. xxiv.--Cedren. Hist. Compend. sub Claud. et Domit.
† Porphyr. de Abstinent. II. 41, 52-3.-- Marini Vit. Procli23, 26-8.-- Damascii Vit. Isidori107, 116, 126.-- Porphyr. Vit. Plotini10, 11.
‡ Apollon. Rhod. Argonaut. I. 1128-31.-Pherecyd. Frag. 7.--Diod, Sicul. v. 55-6.--Ovid. Metam. VII. 365-7.--Suidas s. V. ?e????e?.--Strabon X.--Odyss. X. 211-396.
were among their ordinary resources. Even the triform Ilecate was subject to their spells; they could arrest the course of nature and bring the moon to earth. The fearful rites which superstition attributed to these sorcerers are indicated in one of the charges brought against Apollonius of Tyana when tried before Domitian --that of sacrificing a child. *
In Rome the gods of the nether world furnished a link between the sacred ceremonies of the priest and the incantations of the sorcezer, for while they were objects of worship to the pious, they were also the customary sources of the magician's power. Lucan's terrible witch, Erichtho, is a favorite with Erebus; she wanders among tombs from which she draws their shades; she works her spells with funeral-torches and with the bones and ashes of the dead; her incantations are Stygian; gluing her lips to those of a dying man,. she sends her dire messages to the under-world. Horace's Canidia and Sagana seek their power at the same source, and the description of their hideous doings bears a curious resemblance to much that sixteen centuries later occupied the attention of half the courts in Christendom. It is the same throughout all the allusions to Latin sorcery--the deities invoked are infernal, and the rites are celebrated at night. † The identity of the means employed with those of modern sorcery is perfect. When Germanicus Cæsar, the idol of the empire, was doomed by the secret jealousy of Tiberius; when his subordinate in command of the East, Cneius Piso, was commissioned to make way with him, and Germanicus was stricken with mortal illness, it reads like a passage in Grillandus or Delrio to see that his friends, suspecting Piso's enmity, dug from the ground and the walls of his house the objects placed there to effect his destruction--fragments of human bodies, halfburned ashes smeared with corruption, leaden plates inscribed with his name, charms, and other accursed things, by which, says Tacitus, it is believed that souls may be dedicated to the infernal gods. The ordinary feats of the witch could be more easily per-
* Plin. N. H. xxx. ii.--Platon. de Repub. II.; de Legg. I.; IX. (Ed. Astius, IV. 80; VI. 68, 348-50).-- Luciani Philopseud. 14.-- Philost. Vit. Apollon. VIII. 5.
† Ovid. Fastor. II. 571-82.--Lucan. Pharsal. VI. 507-28, 534-7, 567-9, 766.-Appul. de Magia Orat. pp. 37, 62-4 (Ed. Bipont.).--Horat. Sat. I. viii.; Epod. v. --Petron. Arb. Satyr.-- Pauli Sentt. Receptt. v. xxxiii. 15.
formed. A simple incantation would blight; the harvest; or dry the running fountain, would destroy the acorn on the oak and the ripening fruit on the bough. The figurine, or waxen image, of the person to be assailed, familiar to Hindu, Egyptian, and Greek sorcery, assumes in Rome the shape in which we find it in the Middle Ages. Sometimes the name of the victim was traced on it in letters of red wax. If a mortal disease was to be induced in any organ, a needle was thrust in the corresponding part of the image; or if he was to waste away in an incurable malady, it was melted with incantations at a fire. The victim could moreover be transformed into a beast--a feat which St. Augustin endeavors to explain by doemonic delusion. * It is observable that the terrible magician is almost always an old woman--the saga, strix, or volatica --the wise-woman or nocturnal bird or night-flyer-corresponding precisely with the hag who in mediæval Europe almost monopolized sorcery. But the male sorcerer, like his modern descendant, had the power of transforming himself into a wolf, and was thus the prototype of the wet-wolves, or loups-garoux, who form so picturesque a feature in the history of witchcraft. †
The philtres, charms, and ligatures for exciting desire or preventing its fruition, or for arousing hatred, which meet us at every step in modern sorcery, were equally prevalent in that of Rome. The virtual insanity of Caligula was attributed to powerful drugs administered to him in a love-potion by Cæsonia, whom he married after the death of his sister and concubine Drusilla, and so firm was the conviction of this that when he was assassinated she was likewise put to death for having thus brought the greatest calamities on the republic. That such a man as Marcus Aurelius could be supposed to have caused his wife Faustina to bathe in the blood of the luckless gladiator who was the object of her affections before seeking his own embraces, while doubtless invented to account for the character of his son Commodus, shows the profound belief accorded to such arts. Appuleius found this to his cost when he was tried for his life on the charge of having
* Tacit. Annal. II. 69; III. 13.--Sueton. Calig. 3.--Ovid. Amor. III. vii. 29-34; Heroid. VI. 90-2.--Horat. Sat. I. viii. 29-32, 42-3.--August. de Civ. Dei XVIII. 18.
† Festus S. V. Strigæ.--Virg. Eclog. VIII. 97.--August. de Civ. Dei XVIII. 17. -- Paul Æginet. Instit. Medic. III. 16.-- Gervas. Tilberiens. Otia Imperial. Decis. III. c. 120.--Cf. Volsunga Saga V., VIII.
by incantations and sorcery secured the affections of his bride Pudentilla, a woman of mature age who had been fourteen years a widow. Had the court, like those of the Middle Ages, enjoyed the infallible resource of torture, he would readily have been forced to confession, with the attendant death-penalty; but as there was no charge of treason involved, he was free to disculpate himself by evidence and argument, and he escaped. *
The severest penalties of the law, in fact, were traditionally directed against all practitioners of magic. The surviving fragments of the Decemviral legislation show that this dated from an early period of the republic. With the spread of the Roman conquests, the introduction of Orientalized Hellenism was followed by the magic of the East, more imposing than the homelier native practices, arousing the liveliest fear and indignation. In 184: B. C. the praetor L. Nævius was detained for four months from proceeding to his province of Sardinia, by the duty assigned to him of prosecuting cases of sorcery. A large portion of these were scattered through the suburbicarian regions; the culprits had a short shrift, and he manifested a diligence which Pierre Cella or Bernard de Caux might envy, if the account be true that he condemned no less than two thousand sorcerers. Under the empire decrees against magicians, astrologers, and diviners were frequent, and from the manner in which accusations of sorcery were brought against prominent personages the charge would seem to have been then, as it proved in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, one of those convenient ones, easy to make and hard to disprove, which are welcome in personal and political intrigue. Nero persecuted magic with such severity that he included philosophers among magicians, and the cloak or distinctive garment of the philosopher was sufficient to bring its wearer before the tribunals. Musonius the Babylonian, who ranked next to Apollonius of Tyana in wisdom and power, was incarcerated, and would have perished as intended but for the exceptional robustness which enabled him to endure the rigors of his prison. Caracalla went even further and
* Propert. IV. V. 18.--Virg. Æneid. IV. 512-16.--Plin. N. II. VIII. 56.--Livii XXXIX. 11.--Joseph. Antiq. Jud. XIX. 12.--Tibull. I. viii. 5-6.--Ovid. Amor. III. vii. 27-35.--Petron. Arb. Sat.--Jul. Capitolin. Marc. Aurel. 19.--Appul. de Magia Orat.
punished those who merely wore on their necks amulets for the cure of tertian and quartan fevers. The darker practices of magic were repressed with relentless rigor. To perform or procure the performance of impious nocturnal rites with the object of bewitching any one was punished with the severest penalties known to the Roman law--crucifixion or the beasts. For immolating a man or offering human blood in sacrifices the penalty was simple death or the beasts, according to the station of the offender. Accomplices in magic practices were subjected to crucifixion or the beasts, while magicians themselves were burned alive. The knowledge of the art was forbidden as well as its exercise; all books of magic were to be burned, and their owners subjected to deportation or capital punishment, according to their rank. When the cross became the emblem of salvation, it of course passed out of use as an instrument of punishment; with the abolition of the arena the beasts were no longer available; but the fagot and stake remained, and for long centuries continued to be the punishment for more or less harmless impostors. *
With the triumph of Christianity the circle of forbidden practices was enormously enlarged. A new sacred magic was introduced which superseded and condemned as sorcery and demonworship a vast array of observances and beliefs, which had become an integral and almost ineradicable part of popular life. The struggle between the rival thaumaturgies is indicated already in Tertullian's complaint, that when in droughts the Christians by prayers and mortifications had extorted rain from God, the credit was given to the sacrifices offered to Jove; he challenges the pagans to bring before their own tribunals a demoniac, when a Christian will force the possessing spirit to confess himself a demon. The triumph of the new system was typified in the encounter between St. Peter and Simon Magus, when the flight through the air of the heathen theurgist was arrested by the prayers of the Christian, and he fell with a disastrous crash, breaking a hip-bone and both heels. If, as conjectured by some modern
* Legg. XII. Tabul. Tab. viii.-- Senecæ Quæst. Natural. Lib. IV. C. 7.-Plin. N. H. XXVIII. 4.--Liv. XXXIX. 41.--Tacit. Annal. II. 32; IV. 22, 52; XVI. 28-31. -- Philost. Vit. Apollon. IV. 35.-- Spartian. Anton. Caracall. 5.--Lib. XLVII. Dig. viii. 14.-- Pauli Sententt. Receptt. V. xxiii. 14-18.
critics, Simon Magus is the Petrine designation of St. Paul, the partisans of the latter were not behindhand in recounting the triumph of their leader over the older thaumaturgists, for when he wrought wonders at Ephesus and the Jewish conjurers were put to shame, then "many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together and burned them before all men; and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver." *
Still more convincing was the incident which occurred to Marcus Aurelius in the Marcomannic war when, in the territory of the Quadi, he was cut off from water, so that his army was perishing from thirst. Though he had persecuted the Christians, he had recourse to the intervention of Christ, when a sudden tempest supplied the Romans abundantly with water, while the lightning slew the Teutons and dispersed them, so that they were readily slaughtered. When, finally, the new faith and the old met in their deathgrapple, Eusebius describes Constantine as preparing for the struggle by calling around him his most holy priests and marching under the shade of the sacred Labarum. Licinius on his side collected diviners and Egyptian prophets and magicians. They offered sacrifices and endeavored to learn the result from their deities. Oracles everywhere promised victory; the sacrificial auguries were favorable; the interpreters of dreams announced success. On the eve of the first battle Licinius assembled his chief captains in a sacred grove where there were many idols, and explained to them that this was to be the decisive test between the gods of their ancestors and the unknown deity of the barbarians--if they were vanquished it would show that their gods were dethroned. In the ensuing combat the cross bore down everything before it; the enemy fled when it appeared, and Constantine seeing this sent the Labarum as an amulet of victory, wherever his troops were sore bestead, and at once the battle would be restored. Defeat only hardened the heart of Licinius, and again he had recourse to his magicians. Constantine, on the other hand, arranged an oratory in his camp, to which before battle he would retire to pray with the men of God, and then sallying forth would give the signal for
* Tertull. Apol. 23, 40.--Constitt. Apostol VI. 9.--Arnob. adv. Gentes II. 12. --Hippol. Refut. omn. Hæres. Lib. VI. Acts XIX. 19.
attack, when his troops would slay all who dared to stand before them. So complete became the trust enjoined in the efficacy of the invocation of God, that enthusiasts denounced it as unworthy a Christian to rely upon human prudence and sagacity in trouble. St. Nilus tells us that in cases of sickness recourse is to be had to prayer, rather than to physicians and physic; and St. Augustin, in his recital of miraculous cures beyond the reach of science to effect, evidently regards the appeal to God and the saints as far more trustworthy than all the resources of the medical art. *
It was inevitable that the triumphant theurgy should set to work with remorseless vigor to extirpate its fallen rival, as soon as it could fully control the powers of the State. It was not so much the worship and propitiation of the pagan gods that was first attacked, as the thousand methods of divination and devices to avert evil which had become ingrained in daily life--oracles and auguries and portents and omens and soothsaying. Their efficacy was the work of Satan to deceive and seduce mankind, and their use was the direct or indirect invocation of demons. To attempt to foretell the future in any way was sorcery, and all sorcery was the work of the devil; and it was the same with the amulets and charms, the observance of lucliy and unlucky days, and the innumerable trivial superstitions which amused the popu-
* Pauli Diac. Hist. Miscell. X., XI.-- Euseb. Vit. Constant. II. 4-7, 11-12.- S. Nili Capita parænetica No. 61.--S. August. de Civ. Dei XXII. 8. Cf. Evodii de Mirac. S. Stephani.
The Labarum of Constantine was the Greek cross with four equal arms, a symbol frequently seen on Chaldean and Assyrian, cylinders. Oppert attaches to it the root ???, thus explaining the word Labarum, the derivation of which has never been understood ( Oppert ct Menant, Documents juridiques de I'Assyrie, Paris, 1877, p. 209). The fetichism connected with the cross probably took its rise from the Labarum. Maxentius, we are told, was an ardent adept in magic, and relied upon it for success against Constantine, who was much alarmed until reassured by the vision of the cross and its starry inscription, "In hoc vince" (Euseb. H. E. IX. 9; Vit. Const. I. 28-31, 36.-- Pauli Diac. Hist. Miscell. Lib. XI.--Zonaræ Annal. T. III.).
The melting of pagan superstitions into Christian is illustrated by the incident that when Constantine routed Maxentius at the Milvian Bridge he was preceded in battle by an armed cavalier bearing a cross, and at Adrianople two youths were seen who slaughtered the troops of Licinius (Zonaræ Annal. T. III.). The Christian annalists had no difficulty in identifying with angels of God those whom Pagan writers would designate as Castores.
lar imagination. Zeal for the repression of every species of magic was not only stimulated by the conviction that it was an essential part of the conflict with a personal Satan, but by obedience to the commands of God in the Mosaic law. The awful words, "Thou shalt not suffer a witch (Mekasshepha) to live" have rung through the centuries, and have served as a justification for probably more judicial slaughter than any other sentence in the history of human jurisprudence. Rabbinical Judaism enforced this relentlessly in spite of the kindliness of the rabbis and their extreme indisposition to shed human blood. One of the first reforms of the Pharisees on coming into power after the persecution of Alexander Jannai was the abrogation of the Mosaic penal code in favor of milder laws. The leader in the revolution was Simon ben Shetach, who in organizing the Sanhedrin refused the presidency and conferred it on Judah ben Tabbai. The latter chanced to condemn a man for false witness on the testimony of a single person, though the law required two, when Simon reproached him as blood-guilty, and he resigned. Yet this man, so scrupulous about taking life, had no hesitation in hanging at Ascalon eighty witches in a single day. According to the Mishna, the Pithom and the Jiddoni are to be stoned, and false diviners and those who read the future in the name of idols are to be hanged, while the Talmud adds that he who learns a single word from a Magus is to be put to death. Christianity thus derived from Judaism the complete assurance that in ruthlessly exterminating all thaumaturgy save that of its own priesthood it was obeying the unquestioned command of God. *
The machinery of the Church was therefore early set to work to exhort and persuade the faithful against a sin so unpardonable and apparently so ineradicable; and as soon as it gathered its prelates together in councils it commenced to legislate for the suppression of such practices. † When it grew powerful enough to
* Cohen, Les Pharisiens, I. 311.-- Lightfooti Horæ Hebraicæ, Matt. XXIV. 24.-Mishna, Sanhedrin, VII. 7; X. 16.--Talmud Babli, Shabbath, 75 a ( Buxtorfi Lexicon , p. 1170).
† Minuc. Felic. Octavius (Bib. Mag. Pat. III. 7-8).--Tertull. Apol. 35; de Anima 57.--Acta SS. Justin. et Cyprian. (Martene Theseur. II. 1629).--Constitt. Apostol. II. 66.--Lactant. Divin. Inst. II. 17.--Concil. Ancyrens. ann. 314 c. 24. --C. Laodicens, ann. 320 c. 36.--C. Eliberitan. circa 324 c. 6.
influence the head of the State it procured a series of cruel edicts which doubtless were effective in destroying the remains of tolerated paganism as well as in suppressing the special practices so offensive in the eyes of the orthodox. It was not difficult to commence with the time-honored practices of divination, for, although these had formed part of the machinery of State, yet when the State was centred in the person of its master, any inquiry into the future of public affairs was an inquiry into the fortune and fate of the monarch, and no crime was more jealously repressed and more promptly punished than this. Even so warm an admirer of ancestral institutions as Cato the Elder had long before warned his paterfamilias to forbid his villicus, or farm-steward, to consult any haruspex or augur. These gentry had a way of breeding trouble, and it boded no good to the master when the slaves were over-curious and too well-informed. In the same spirit Tiberius prohibited the secret consultation of haruspices. Constantine was thus serving a double purpose when, as early as 319, he threatened with burning the haruspex who ventured to cross another's threshold, even on pretext of friendship; the man who called him in was punished with confiscation and deportation, and the informer was rewarded. Priest and augur were only to celebrate their rites in public. Even this was withdrawn by Constantius in 357; any consultation with diviners was punishable with death, and the practitioners themselves, whether of magic or augury, or the expounding of dreams, when on trial were deprived of exemption from torture and could be subjected to the rack or the hooks to extort confession. * Under this Constantius organized an active persecution throughout the East, in which numbers were put to death upon the slightest pretext; passing among the tombs at night was evidence of necromancy, and hanging a charm around the neck for the cure of a quartan was proof of forbidden arts. The witch-trials of modern times were prefigured and anticipated. Under Julian there was a reaction, and in 364 Valentinian and Valens proclaimed freedom of belief; in 371 they included in this the old religious divination, while capital punishment was restricted
* Cato. Rei Rust. 5.--Sucton. Tiber. 63.--Lib. IX. Cod. Theod. xvi. 1-6.
For the care with which the Romans suppressed unauthorized soothsaying see Livy, xxxix. 16, and Pauli Sententt. Receptt. v. xxi. 1, 2, 3.
to magic arts, but the persecution in the East under Valens in 374, following the conspiracy of Theodore, obliterated all distinction. Commencing, with those accused of magic, it extended to all who were noted for letters or philosophy. Terror reigned throughout the East; all who had libraries burned them. The prisons were insufficient to contain the prisoners, and in some towns it was said that fewer were left than were taken. Many were put to death, and the rest were stripped of their property. In the West, under Valentinian, persecution was not so sweeping, but the laws were enforced, at least in Rome, with sufficient energy to reduce greatly the number of sorcerers; and a law of Honorius, in 409, by its reference to the bishops, shows that the Church was beginning to participate with the State in the supervision over such offenders. * Yet that even the faithful could not be restrained from indulging in these forbidden practices is seen in the earnest exhortations addressed to them by their teachers, and the elaborate repetition of proofs that all such exhibitions of supernatural power were the work of demons. †
The Eastern Empire maintained its severity of legislation and continued with more or less success to repress the inextinguishable thirst for forbidden arts. From some transactions under Manuel and Andronicus Comnenus in the latter half of the twelfth century we learn that blinding was a usual punishment for such offences, that the classical forms of augury had disappeared to be replaced by necromantic formulas, and that such accusations were a convenient method of disposing of enemies. ‡
* Ammian. Marcellin. XIX. xii. 14; XXVI. iii.; XXIX. i. 5-14, ii. 1-5.--Zozimi IV. 14.--Lib. IX. Cod. Theod. xvi. 7-12. Yet favoritism led Valens to pardon Pollentianus, a military tribune, who confessed that, for the purpose of ascertaining the destiny of the imperial crown, he had ripped open a living woman and extracted her unborn babe to perform a hideous rite of necromancy (Am. Marcell. xxix. ii. 17). In the later Roman augury, contaminated with Eastern rites, omens of the highest significance were found in the entrails of human victims, especially in those of the fœtus (Æl. Lamprid. Elagabal. 8.--Euseb. H. E. VII. 10, VIII. 14.-- Paul. Diac. Hist. Miscell. XI.).
† Augustin. de Civ. Dei x. 9; XXI. 6; de Genesi ad Litteram XI.; de Divinat. Dæmon. v.; de Doctr. Christ. II. 20-4; Serm. 278.--Concil. Carthag. IV. ann. 398, c. 89.--Dracont. de Deo II. 324-7.--Leon. PP. I. Serm. XXVII. c. 3.
‡ Lib. IX. Cod. xviii. 2-6.--Basilicon Lib. LX. Tit. xxxix. 3, 28-32.--Photii
In the West the Barbarian domination introduced a new element. The Ostrogoths, who occupied Italy under Theodoric, were, it is true, so much Romanized that, although Arians, they adopted and enforced the laws against magic. Divination was classed with paganism and was capitally punished. About the year 500 we hear of a persecution which drove all the sorcerers from Rome, and Basilius, the chief thaumaturge among them, although he escaped at the time, was burned on venturing to return. When Italy fell back into the hands of the Eastern Empire the prosecution of these offences seems to have been committed to the Church as a part of its ever-widening sphere of influence and jurisdiction. *
The Wisigoths who took possession of Aquitaine and Spain, although less civilized than their Eastern brethren, were profoundly influenced by Roman legislation, and their princes issued repeated enactments to discourage the forbidden arts. It is significant of the Barbarian tenderness for human life, however, that the penalties were greatly less than those of the savage Roman edicts. A law of Recared declares magicians and diviners and those who consult them to be incapable of bearing testimony; one of Egiza places these crimes in the class for which a slave could be tortured against his accused master; and several edicts of Chindaswind provide, for those who invoke demons or bring hail upon vineyards, or use ligatures or charms to injure men or cattle or harvests, scourging with two hundred lashes, shaving, and carrying around for exhibition in the vicinage, to be followed by imprisonment. Those who consult diviners about the health of the king or of others are threatened with scourging and enslavement to the fisc, including confiscation, if their children are accomplices; judges who have recourse to divination for guidance in doubtful cases are subjected to the same penalties, while the simple observation of auguries is visited with fifty lashes. These provisions, which were mostly carried with little change into the Fuero Juzgo, remained the law of the Spanish Peninsula until the Middle Ages
Nomocanon. Tit. ix. cap. 25.-- Nicet. Choniat. Man. Comnen. Lib. IV.; Andron. Lib. II.
* Edict. Theodorici c. 108.-- Gregor. PP. I. Dial. Lib. I. c. 4.-- Cassiodor. Variar. IV. 22, 23, IX. 18.-- Gregor. PP. I. Epist. XI. 53.
were well advanced. They show how impossible it had been to eradicate the old superstitions, and that the pagan observances and auguries still flourished among all classes, which is confirmed by the denunciations of the Spanish councils and ecclesiastical writers. They have a further significance as presenting a middle term between the severity of Rome and the laxity of the other Barbarian tribes. *
These latter were ruder and less amenable to Roman influences. In their conversion the Church rendered an immense service to humanity, and it did not dare to interfere too rudely with the customs and prejudices of its unruly neophytes; in fact, it harmonized its own with them as far as it could, and became considerably modified in consequence. This process is well symbolized in the instructions of Gregory the Great to Augustin, his missionary to England, to convert the pagan temples into churches by sprinkling them with holy water, so that converts might grow accustomed to their new faith by worshipping in the wonted places, while the sacrifices to demons were to be replaced by processions in honor of some saint or martyr, when oxen were to be slaughtered, not to propitiate idols, but in praise of God, to be eaten by the faithful. In this assimilation of Christianity to paganism it is not surprising that Redwald, King of East Anglia, after his conversion set up in his temple two altars, at one of which he worshipped the true God and at the other offered sacrifices to demons. † The similar adoption by Christian magic of elements from that which it supplanted is well illustrated by the hymn, or rather incantation, known as the Lorica of St. Patrick, in which the forces of nature and the Deity are both summoned as by an enchanter to the assistance of the thaumaturge. A MS. of the seventh century assures us that "Every person who sings it every day with all his attention on God shall not have demons appearing to his face. It will be a safeguard to him against sudden death. It will be a protection to him against every poison and envy. It will be an armor to his soul after his death. Patrick sang this at
* Ll. Wisigoth. II. iv. 1; VI. i. 4; VI. ii. 1, 3, 4, 5.--Fuero Juzgo II. iv. 1; VI. ii. 1, 3, 5.--Concil. Bracarens. II. ann. 572 c. 71.--Conc. Toletan. IV. ann. 633 c. 28.--Isidor. Hispalens. Etymol. VIII. 9; de Ord. Creatur. viii.--S. Pirmiani de Libb. Canon. Scarapsus.
† Haddan and Stubbs, Concil. III. 37.-- Bedæ H. E. II. 15.
the time that the snares were set for him by Loegaire, so that it appeared to those who were lying in ambush that they were wild deer and a fawn after them." *
The Barbarians brought with them their own superstitions, whether transmitted from the prehistoric Aryan home, or acquired in the course of their wanderings, and they readily added to these such as they found among their new subjects, whether they were under the ban of the Church or not. They had parted from their brethren before the religious revolution caused by Zoroaster's dualistic conception of Hormazd and Ahriman, and their religions have no trace of a personification of the Evil Principle. Loki, its nearest representative, was rather tricky than incorrigible. It is true that there were evil beings, such as the Hrimthursar, Trolls,
* Haddan and Stubbs, II. 320-3. Three stanzas of the eleven of which the hymn consists will show its character as an incantation: 1.
I bind to myself to-day
The strong power of an invocation of the Trinity,
The faith of the Trinity in Unity,
The Creator of the elements.
I bind to myself to-day
The power of Heaven,
The light of the Sun,
The whiteness of Snow,
The force of Fire,
The flashing of Lightning,
The velocity of Wind,
The stability of the Earth,
The hardness of Rocks.
I have set around me all these powers,
Against every hostile savage power,
Directed against my body and my soul,
Against the incantations of false prophets,
Against the black laws of heathenism,
Against the false laws of heresy,
Against the deceits of idolatry,
Against the spells of women and smiths and druids,
Against all knowledge which blinds the soul of man.
or Jotuns, the Jotun-dragon Fafnir, the wolf Fenrir, Beowulf's Grendal and others, but they were none of them analogous to the Mazdean Ahriman or the Christian Satan, and when the Teutonic races adopted the latter they came to represent him, as Grimm well points out, rather as the blundering Jotun than as the arch-enemy. To how late a period the ancestral conceptions of the spirit-world prevailed in Germany may be seen in the answers of the learned Abbot John of Trittenheim to the questions of Maximilian I. *
The Teutonic tribes had little to learn from the conquered peoples in the wide circle of the magic arts, for in no race, probably, has the supernatural formed a larger portion of daily life, or claimed greater power over both the natural and the spiritual worlds. Divination in all its forms was universally practised. Gifted beings known as menn forspair could predict the future either by second sight, or by incantations, or by expounding dreams. Still more dreaded and respected was the Vala or prophetess, who was worshipped as superhuman and regarded as in some way an embodiment of the subordinate Norns or Fates, as in the case of Veleda, Aurinia, and others who, as Tacitus assures us, were regarded as goddesses, in accordance with the German custom of thus venerating their fatidical women; and in the Volüspa the Vala communes on equal terms with Odin himself. † For those not thus specially gifted there was ample store of means to forecast the future. The most ordinary method was by necromancy, either by placing under the tongue of a corpse a piece of wood carved with appropriate runes, or by raising the shades of the dead precisely as the Witch of Endor did with Samuel, or as was practised in Rome. ‡ The lot was also used extensively, whether to ascertain the divine will, like the Hebrew Urim and Thummim, or to ascertain the future with a bundle of sticks, apparently almost identical with the Chinese trigrams and hexagrams. § As in Greece and Rome, sacrifices were often offered
* Grimm's Teutonic Mythol., Stallybrass's Transl. III. 1028.--Trithem. Lib. Quæst. Q. VI.
§ Cæsar. de Bell. Gall. I. 53.--Remberti Vit. S. Anscharii c. 16, 23, 24, 27.--
† Volsunga Saga. XXIV., XXV., XXXII.--Gripispa.-- Keyser Religion of the Northmen, Pennock's Transl. pp. 191, 285-7.--Tacit. Histor. IV. 61, 65; German. viii.-- Volüspa, 2, 21, 22.
‡ Saxo. Grammat. Lib. I.-- Havamal, 159.-- Grougaldr, 1.-- Vegtamskvida, 9.
to the gods in expectation of a response; auguries were drawn from the flight of birds as carefully as by the Roman augurs, while the sacred chickens were replaced with white horses consecrated to the gods, whose motions and actions when harnessed to the sacred chariot were carefully observed. * Saving the Etruscan haruspicium and the omens derived from sacrificial victims, Hellenic and Italiote divination had little to distinguish it from that of the Teutons.
As regards magic, scarce any limit can be set to the power of the sorcerer. In no literature do his marvels fill a larger space, nor are the feats of wizard or witch received with more unquestioning faith than in what remains to us of the sagas of the North. Especially were the lands around the Baltic regarded as the peculiar home and nursery of sorcerers, whither people from every land, even from distant Greece and Spain, resorted for instruction or for special aid. In Adam of Bremen's "Churland" every house was full of diviners and necromancers, while the people of northern Norway could tell what every man in the world was doing, and could perform with ease all the evil deeds ascribed to witches in Holy Writ. Both Saxo Grammaticus and Snorri Sturlason, in their widely differing rationalistic accounts of the origin of the Æsir, or gods, agree that the founders of the Northern kingdom owed their deification solely to the magic skill which led their subjects and descendants to venerate them as divine. †
Tacit. German. X.--Ammian. Marcellin. XXXI. 2.--Carolomanni Capit. II. ad Liptinas.--Carol. Mag. Capit. de Partibus Saxon. c. 23.
* Tacit. German. ix., x.
† Adam. Bremens. IV. 16, 31.--Saxon. Grammat. Lib. I.-- Ynglinga Saga, 6, 7 (Laing's Heimskringla).
The Finns were not behind their neighbors in the powers attributed to spells and incantations. In the Kalevala, Louhi, the sorceress of the North, steals the sun and moon, which had come down from heaven to listen to Wainamoinen's singing, and hides them in a mountain, but is compelled to let them out again through dread of counter-spells. The powers of magic song are fairly summarized in the final contest between Wainamoinen and Youkahainen:
"Bravely sang the ancient minstrel,
Till the flinty rocks and ledges
Heard the trumpet tone and trembled,
And the copper-bearing mountains
Norse magic was roughly classified into that which was legitimate, or galder, and that which was wicked, or seid. To the former belonged the infinite powers of runes, whether sung as incantations or carved as talismans and amulets. Their invention was attributed to the ancient Hrimthursar or Jotuns, and it was his profound knowledge of this magic lore which enabled Odin to achieve his supremacy. Runes it was that kept the sun upon his course and maintained the order of nature. All runes were mingled together in the sacred drink of the Æsir, whence were derived their supernatural attributes, and some have been allowed
Shook along their deep foundations,
Flinty rocks flew straight asunder,
Falling cliffs afar were scattered,
All the solid earth resounded,
And the ocean billows answered.
And, alas! for Youkahainen,
Lo! his sledge so fairly fashioned,
Floats, a waif upon the ocean.
Lo! his pearl-enamelled birch-rod
Lies, a weed upon the margin.
Lo! his steed of shining forehead
Stands, a statue in the torrent,
And his hame is but a fir-bough
And his collar naught but corn-straw.
Still the minstrel sings unceasing,
And, alas! for Youkahainen,
Sings his sword from out his scabbard,
Hangs it in the sky before him
As it were a gleam of lightning;
Sings his bow, so gayly blazoned,
Into driftwood on the ocean;
Sings his finely feathered arrows
Into swift and screaming eagles;
Sings his dog, with crooked muzzle,
Into stone-dog squatting near him;
Into sea-flowers sings his gauntlets,
And his vizor into vapor,
And himself, the sorry fellow,
Ever deeper in his torture,
In the quicksand to the shoulder,
To his hip in mud and water."
-- Porter's Selections from the Kalevala, pp. 84-5.
to reach man, which were carefully classified and studied. * As an adjunct of these was the seidstaf, or wand, so indispensable to the magician of all races. The Icelandic Vala Thordis had one of these known as Hangnud, which would deprive of memory him whom it touched on the right cheek and restore it with a touch on the left cheek. Philtres and love-potions, causing irresistible desire or indifference or hatred, were among the ordinary resources of Norse magic. Pricking with the sleep-thorn produced magic sleep for an indefinite time. Magicians could also throw themselves into a deep trance, while the spirit wandered abroad in some other form: women who were accustomed to do this were called hamleypur, and if the ham, or assumed form, were injured, the hurt would be found on the real body--a belief common to almost all races. † The adept, moreover, could assume any form at will, as in the historical case of the wizard who in the shape of a whale swain to Iceland as a spy for Harold Gorinsson of Denmark, when the latter was planning an expedition thither; or two persons could exchange appearances, as Signy did with a witch-wife, or Sigurd with Gunnar, when Brynhild was deceived into marrying
* Havamal, 142, 150-63.-- Harbarsdliod, 20.-- Sigrdrifumal, 6-13, 15-18.-Skirnismal, 36.-- Rigsmal, 40, 41.-- Grougaldr, 6-14.
† Harbardsliod, 20.-- Skirnismal, 26-34.-- Keyser, op. cit. pp. 270, 293.-Hyndluliod, 43.--Lays of Sigurd and Brynhild.-- Gudrunarkvida, II. 21.-- Sigrdrifumal , 4.
At the close of the fifteenth century, Sprenger relates (Mall. Maleficar. P. II. Q. i. c. 9) as a recent occurrence in a town in the diocese of Strassburg, that a laborer cutting wood in a forest was attacked by three enormous cats, which after a fierce encounter he succeeded in beating off with a stick. An hour afterwards he was arrested and cast in a dungeon on the charge of brutally beating three ladies of the best families in the town, who were so injured as to be confined to their beds, and it was not without considerable difficulty that he proved his case and was discharged under strict injunctions of secrecy. Gervais of Tilbury, early in the thirteenth century, had already referred to such occurrences as an established fact (Otia Imp. Decis. III. c. 93).
The same belief was current among the Slavs. Prior to the conversion of Bohemia, in a civil war under Necla, a youth summoned to battle had a witch stepmother who predicted defeat, but counselled him, if he wished to escape, to kill the first enemy he met, cut off his ears and put them in his pocket. He obeyed and returned home in safety, but found his dearly beloved bride dead, with a sword-thrust in the bosom and both ears off--which he had in his pocket.--Æn. Sylv. Hist. Bohem. c. 10.
the latter. * Enchanted swords that nothing could resist, enchanted coats that nothing could penetrate, caps of darkness which, like the Greek helm of Pluto, rendered the wearer invisible, are of frequent occurrence in Norse legendary history. †
All this was more or less lawful magic, while the impious sorcery known as seid or trolldom was based on a knowledge of the evil secrets of nature or the invocation of malignant spirits, such as the Jotuns and their troll-wives. Seid is apparently derived from sjoda, to seethe or boil, indicating that its spells were wrought by boiling in a caldron the ingredients of the witches' hell-broth, as we see it done in Macbeth. It was deemed infamous, unworthy of men, and was mostly left to women, known as seid konur, or seid wives, and as "riders of the night." In the oldest text of the Salic law, which shows no trace of Christian influence, the only allusion to sorcery is a fine imposed for calling a woman a witch, or for stigmatizing a man as one who carries the caldron for a witch. ‡ Scarce any limit was assigned to the power of these sorcerers. One of their most ordinary feats was the raising and allaying of tempests, and to such perfection was this brought that storm and calm could be enclosed in bags for use by the possessor, like those which Æolus gave to Ulysses. As Christianity spread, this power gave rise to trials of strength between the old and the new religion, such as we have seen when Constantine overcame Licinius. St. Olaf's first expedition to Finland barely escaped destruction from a dreadful tempest excited by the Finnish sorcerers. Olaf Tryggvesson was more fortunate in one of his missionary raids, when he defeated Raud the Strong and drove him to his fastness on Godo Island in the Salten Fiord--a piece of water whose fierce tidal currents were more dreaded than the Maelström itself. Repeated attempts to follow him were vain, for, no matter how fair was the weather outside, inside Raud maintained a storm in which no ship could live. At length Olaf invoked the aid of Bishop Sigurd, who promised to test whether
* Olaf Tryggvesson Saga, 37 (Laing's Heimskringla).-- Volsunga Saga, VII., XXVII.-- Sigurdtharkvida Fafnisbana I. 37, 38).
† Olaf Haraldsson's Saga, 204, 240 (Laing's Heimskringla).-- Volsunga Saga, III. 15.-- Keyser, op. cit. p. 294.
‡ Havamal, 157.-- Harbardsliod, 20.--L. Salic. Tit. lxiv. (First Text of Pardessus).
God would vouchsafe to overcome the devil. Tapers and vestments and holy water and sacred texts were too much for the evil spirits; the king's ships sailed into the fiord with smooth water around them, though everywhere else the waves ran high enough to hide the mountains: Raud was captured, and, as he obstinately refused baptism, Olaf put him to the most cruel death that his ingenuity could devise. *
The sorcerer also had endless power of creating illusions. A beleaguered wizard could cause a flock of sheep to appear like a band of warriors hastening to his assistance. Yet this would appear superfluous, since by his glances alone he could convulse nature and cause instant death. Gunhild, who married King Eric Blood-Axe, says of the two Lap sorcerers who taught her magic: "When they are angry the very earth turns away in terror and whatever living thing they look upon falls dead." When she betrayed them to Eric she cast them into a deep sleep and drew sealskin bags over their heads, so that Eric and his men could despatch them in safety. Similarly when Olaf Pa surprised Stigandi asleep he drew a skin over the wizard's head. There chanced to be a small hole in it through which Stigandi's glance fell upon the grassy slope of an opposite mountain, whereupon the spot was torn up with a whirlwind and living herb never grew there again. †
One of the most terrifying powers of the witch was her fearful cannibalism, a belief which the Teutons shared with the Romans. This is referred to in some of the texts of the Salic law and in the legislation of Charlemagne, and the unlimited extent of popular credulity with regard to it is seen in an adventure of Thorodd, an envoy of St. Olaf, who saw a witch-wife tear eleven men to pieces, throw them on the fire, and commence devouring them, when she was driven off. ‡
* Grougaldr.--Olaf Haraldsson's Saga, 8.--Olaf Tryggvesson's Saga, 85-7. (Laing's Heimskringla).
† Keyser, op. cit. pp. 268, 271-2.--Harald Harfaager's Saga, 34 (Laing's Heimskringla).--All this is nearly equalled by the powers attributed in 1437 by Eugenius IV. to the witches of his time, who by a simple word or touch or sign could regulate the weather or bewitch whom they pleased ( Raynald. ann. 1437, No. 27).
‡ L. Salic. Text. Herold, Tit. lxvii (also in the third text of Pardessus, and the L. Emendata Tit. lxvii., but not in the others).--Capit. Carol. Mag. de Partibus
The trolla-thing, or nocturnal gathering of witches, where they danced and sang and prepared their unholy brewage in the caldron, was a customary observance of these wise-women, especially on the first of May (St. Walpurgis' Night), which was the great festival of pagandom. * We shall see hereafter the portentous growth of this, which developed into the Witches' Sabbat. It is a feature common to the superstition of many races, the origin of which cannot be definitely assigned to any.
That the practice of this impious sorcery was deemed infamous is clear from the provision of the Salic law, already alluded to, imposing a fine of eighty-nine sols for calling a free woman a witch without being able to prove it. Yet the mere addiction to it in pagan times was not a penal offence, and penalties were only inflicted for injuries thus committed on person or property. In extreme cases, where death was encompassed, there seems to have been a popular punishment of lapidation, which was the fate incurred, after due sentence, by three noted sorcerers, Katla and Kotkel and Grima. The codified laws of the barbarians, however, never prescribed the death penalty, fines being the universal retribution for crime, and in a later text of the Salic law two hundred sols is designated for the witch who eats a man. Yet individual cases can be found of persecution, such as that by Harald Harfaager, whose early experience had inspired him with intense hatred of the art. One of his sons, Rögnvald Rettilbein, received from him the government of Hadeland, where he learned sorcery and became a great adept; so when Vitgeir, a noted wizard of Hordeland, was ordered by Harald to abandon his evil ways he retorted:
"The danger surely is not great,
From wizard born of mean estate,
When Harald's son in Hadeland,
King Rögnvald, to the art lays hand."
Rögnvald's wrong-doing being thus betrayed, Harald lost no time in despatching Eric Blood-Axe, his son by another wife, who promptly burned his half-brother in a house, along with eighty
Saxoniæ ann. 794, c. vi.--Olaf Haraldsson's Saga, 151 (Laing's Heimskringla). Cf. Horace (Ars Poet.), "Neu pransæ Lamiæ vivum puerum extrahat alvo."
* Grimm, op. cit. III. 1044, 1050-1.
other sorcerers--a piece of practical justice which we are told met with general popular applause. *
Such were the beliefs and practices of the races with which the Church had to do in its efforts to obliterate paganism and sorcery. There was little difference between the provinces which had belonged to the empire and the regions over which Christianity began for the first time to spread, for in the former the conquerors and the conquered were imbued, as we have just seen, with superstitions nearly akin. The exchange of imperial for barbarian rule worked the same result as to sorcery as that related in a former chapter with regard to the persecution of heresy, though it must be borne in mind that, while heresy almost disappeared in the intellectual hebetude of the times, sorcery grew ever more vigorous. Its suppression was practically abandoned. As mentioned above, the earliest text of the Salic law provides no general penalty for it. In subsequent recensions, besides the fine imposed for cannibalism, some MSS. have clauses imposing fines for bewitching with ligatures and killing men with incantations--in the latter case, with the alternative of burning alive--but even these disappear in the Lex Emendata of Charlemagne, possibly in consequence of the legislation of the Capitularies described below. The Ripuarian code only treats murder by sorcery like any other homicide, to be compounded for by the ordinary wer-gild, or blood-money, and for injuries thus inflicted it provides a fine of one hundred sols, to be avoided by compurgation with six conjurators. The other codes are absolutely silent on the subject. †
As under the Frankish rule laws were personal and not territorial, the Gallo-Roman population was still governed by the Roman law, but evidently there was no attempt made to enforce it. Gregory of Tours relates for us several miracles to prove the superiority of the Christian magic of relics and invocation of saints over the popular magic of the conjurer, which indicate that the
* L. Salic. First Text, Tit. lxiv. § 2; Text. Herold. Tit. lxvii.; Third Text, Tit. lxiv.-- Blackwell's Bohn Mallet Ed. p. 524.-- Keyser, op. cit. pp. 266-7.--Harald Harfaager's Saca, 25, 36 (Laing's Heimskringla).
† L. Salic. Text. Herold. Tit. xxii.; MS. Guelferbit. Tit. xix.--L. Ripuar. Tit. lxxxiii.
first impulse of the people in case of accident or sudden sickness was to send for the nearest ariolus, or practitioner of forbidden arts, and that the profession was exercised openly and without fear of punishment, in spite of repeated condemnations by the councils of the period. How little such persons had to fear is seen in the case of a woman of Verdun, who professed to be a soothsayer and to discover stolen goods. She was so successful that she drove a thriving trade, purchased her freedom of her master, and accumulated a store of money. At length she was brought before Bishop Ageric, who only treated her for demoniacal possession with exorcisms and inunctions of holy oil, and finally discharged her. *
Occasionally, of course, cases occurred in which the unrestrained passions of the Merovingians wreaked savage cruelty on those who had incurred their ill-will, but these were exceptional and outside of the law. When Fredegonda lost two children by pestilence, her stepson Clovis was accused of causing it by sorcery. The woman designated as his accomplice was tortured until she confessed, and was burned, although she retracted her confession, after which Chilperic delivered his son Clovis to Fredegonda, who caused him to be assassinated. When, subsequently, another son, Thierry,
* Greg. Turori. de Mirac. Lib. II. c. 45; de Mirac. S. Martini Lib. I. c. 26.-Concil. Venetic. ann. 465 c. 16.--Concil. Agrathens. ann. 506 c. 42, 68.--C. Aurelianens. I. anin. 511 c. 30.--C. Autissiodor. ann. 578 c. 4.--C. Narbonnens. ann. 589 c. 14.--C. Remens. ann. 630 c. 14.--C. Rotomagens. ann. 650 c. 4.--Greg. Turon. Hist. Francor. VII. 44.
The hostility of Christian magic to its rivals extended even to rational medicine. Gregory of Tours develops the teaching of St. Nilus by giving examples to show that it was a sin to have recourse to natural remedies, such as bloodletting, instead of trusting wholly to the intercession of saints.--Hist. Franc. V. 6; de Mirac. S. Martini II. 60.
It was in vain for the Church to proscribe goetic magic while it fostered the beliefs on which the superstition was based by encouraging the practice of sacred magic. For example, there was little use in endeavoring to suppress amulets and charms while the faithful were taught to carry the Agnus Dei, or figure of a lamb stamped in wax remaining from the paschal candles, and consecrated by the pope. In forbidding the decoration and sale of these in 1471, Paul II. expatiates on their efficacy in preserving from fire and shipwreck, in averting tempests and lightning and hail and in assisting women in childbirth.-- Raynald. ann. 1471, No. 58.
died in 584, Mulumolus, the royal favorite, whom Fredegonda disliked, was accused of having caused it by incantations. Thereupon she seized some women of Paris, and by scourging and torture forced them to confess themselves sorceresses who had caused numerous deaths, including that of Thierry, whose soul was accepted in place of that of Mummolus. Some of these poor wretches were simply put to death, others she burned, and others she broke on the wheel. Chilperic then caused Mummolus to be tortured by suspension with his arms tied behind his back, but he only confessed to having obtained from the women philtres and ointments to secure the favor of the king and queen. Unluckily he said to the executioner on being taken down, "Tell the king that I feel no ill from what has been done." On hearing this Chilperic exclaimed, "Is he really a sorcerer that this does not hurt him?" and had him stretched on a rack and scourged with leathern thongs till the executioners were exhausted. Mummolus finally begged his life of Fredegonda, but was stripped of his possessions and sent in a wagon to his native city, Bordeaux, where he died on his arrival. Cases like this throw light on the beliefs of the period, but not upon its judicial routine. *
The Lombards in Italy fell to a greater degree under Roman influence, and towards the close of their domination adopted general laws of some severity against the practice of sorcery, irrespective of the injury committed. The sorcerer was to be sold as a slave beyond the province, and the price received was divided between the judge and other officials, according to their respective merits in the prosecution: if through bribes or pity the judge refused to condemn, he was mulcted in his whole wer-gild, or the amount of his blood-money, and half as much if he neglected to discover a sorcerer who was found out by another. The penalty for consulting a sorcerer, or for not informing on him, or for performing incantations, was half the wer-gild of the offender. At the same time the grosser superstitions were rejected, and Rotharis forbade putting sorceresses to death, under the popular belief that they could devour men internally. †
In the long anarchy which accompanied the fall of the Mero-
* Greg. Turon. Hist. Franc. V. 40; VII. 35.
† L. Langobard. II. xxxviii. 1. 2 (Liutprand).--I. ii. 9 (Rotharis).
vingians, all respect for the Church, its precepts and observances, was well-nigh lost throughout the Frankish kingdoms. One of the incidents of reconstruction, as the Carlovingian dynasty slowly emerged, and as St. Boniface, under papal authority, sought to restore the Church, was the suppression of Bishop Adalbert, who taught the invocation of the angels Uriel, Raguel, Tubuel, Inias, Tubuas, Sabaoc, and Simiel. Adalbert was venerated as a saint, and the clippings of his nails and hair were treasured as relics. Repeated condemnations at home had no effect on this false worship of angels, and Pope Zachary held, in 745, a synod in Rome which declared it to be a worship of demons, as the only angels whose names are known are Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. Yet this superstition took so firm a hold upon the people that it was long before it could be eradicated; indeed, it seems to be alluded to, even in the middle of the tenth century, by Atto of Vercelli. * When such was the condition of the Church, no suppression of sorcery was to be looked for.
Among the instructions to Boniface and his fellow-missionaries was the eradication of all pagan observances, including divination, sorcery, and cognate superstitions. As the Church became reorganized, councils were held in 742 and 743, in which Church and State united in prohibiting them, although only a moderate fine was threatened, but the ecclesiastical jurisdiction over such offences was established by ordering the bishops to make yearly visitations of their sees to suppress paganism and the forbidden arts. Boniface, however, complained to Zachary that when the Frank or German visited Rome he saw there, openly practised, the things which they were laboriously endeavoring to suppress at home. The first of January was celebrated with pagan dances; women wore amulets and ligatures, and publicly offered them for sale. The pope could only reply that these things had long ago been prohibited, but as they had broken out afresh he had forbidden them again--but we may be assured without success. †
* Concil. Suessionens. ann. 744.-- Zachar. PP. Epist. 9, 10.--Bonifacii Epist. lvii. -- Synod. Roman. ann. 745 ( Bonifacii Opp. III. 10). -- Carol. Mag. Capit. Aquisgr. ann. 789 c. 16.--Capit. Herardi Archiep. Turon. ann. 838 c. 3 ( Baluz, Capitular. I. 677).--Atton. Vereell. Capitular. c. 48.
† Gregor. PP. II. Capit. data legatis in Bavariam, c. S, 9.-- Concil. German. I.
In the Carlovinogian reconstruction which followed, efforts were made to suppress all superstitious arts, and they were treated with gradually increasing severity, but still with comparative lenity. The most vigorous legislation was an edict of Charlemagne in 805, which confides the matter to the Church, and orders the archpriest of each diocese to investigate all who were accused of divination or sorcery, apparently permitting moderate torture to obtain confession, and keeping the culprits in prison until they amend. In his efforts to christianize Saxony, on the one hand Charlemagne punished with death all who burned witches and ate them, under the belief so widely spread that they ate men, and on the other band all soothsayers and sorcerers were made over to the Church as slaves. During this period, moreover, and for a couple of centuries following, the parallel legislation of the Church, inflicting spiritual penalties, was singularly mild, although the different penitentials vary so much that it is impossible to deduce any system from them. That which passes under the name of Theodore of Canterbury, and was of general authority, only prescribes a penance of twoscore days or a year for sorcery, or, if the offender is an ecclesiastic, three years, but it orders seven years for placing a child on a roof or in an oven to cure it of fever, and Ecbert of York indicates five years for the same practice. There evidently was no settled rule, but the most systematic code is that of Gaerbald, who was Bishop of Liége about the year 800. He orders all offenders to be brought before him for trial, and enacts seven years' penance and liberal almsgiving for committing homicide by means of sorcery, seven years without almsgiving for rendering the victim insane, five years and almsgiving for consulting diviners or practising augury from birds, seven years for sorcerers who bring on tempests, three years and almsgiving for honoring sorcerers, one year for sorcery to excite love, provided it did not result in death, but if the offender was a monk, the penalty was increased to five years. Another penitential of the period prescribes twoscore days or a year for divination or diabolical incantations, but seven years if a woman threatens another with sorcery, to be reduced to four if she is poor. In 829 the Council of
(Caroloman. Capit. I., Baluz. I. 104-5).-- Concil. Liptinens. ann. 743 (Caroloman. Capit. II., Baluz. I. 106-8).-- Bonifac. Epistt. 49, 63.-- Zachar. PP. Epist. II. c. 6.
Paris attributes the misfortunes of the empire to the prevalence of crime, and especially of sorcery; it quotes the savage provisions of the Mosaic law, and enumerates at considerable length the evil deeds of the offenders--how men are rendered insane by philtres and love-potions, how tempests and hail are induced, how harvests and milk and fruits are transferred from their lawful owners, and how the future is predicted, but it indicates no penalties, and only asks the secular rulers to punish these crimes sharply. Similarly Erard, Archbishop of Tours, in 838 uttered a general prohibition, but only threatened public penance without indicating details. All that we can gather from this confused legislation, from the collections known as the Capitularies, and from the speculations and arguments of Rabanus Maurus and Hinemar of Reims, is that every species of divination and sorcery, Roman and Teutonic, was rife; that it was held to derive its power directly from Satan; that the Church was wholly unable to deal with it; that secular legislation threatened only moderate penalties, and that these were for the most part wholly unenforced. *
Yet, outside of the organized machinery of the Church and State, there was a rough popular justice--a sort of Lynch law-which handled individual offenders with scant ceremony. A chance allusion about this period to Gerberga, who was drowned by the Emperor Lothair in the river Arar, as is customary with sorcerers," indicates that much was going on not provided for in the Capitularies. The same is seen in a curious statement by St. Agobard, Archbishop of Lyons, who waged such ineffectual battle with many of the superstitions of the time. One of these, as we have seen, was that tempests could be caused by sorcery--a belief which the Church at first pronounced heretical because it inferred
* Carol. Mag. Capit. Aquisgr. ann. 789 c. 18, 63; Capit. II. ann. 806 c. 25; Capit. de Partibus Saxon. ann. 789 c. 6, 23.-- S. Gregor. PP. III. De Crimin. et Remed. 16.-- Thieodori Pœnitent. Lib. I. c. xv. ( Haddan and Stubbs, III. 190).-Egberti Pœnitent. VIII. 1 (Ib. p. 424).-- Burchardi Decret. x. 8, 24, 28, 31.-Ghaerbaldi Instruct. Pastoral. c. x.; Judic. Sacerdotal. c. x., xi., xx., xxiv., xxv., xxxi., xxxvi. ( Martene Ampl. Coll. VII. 25-33).-- Libell. de Reined. Peccat. c. 9 (Ib. p. 44).--Concil. Paris. ann. 829 Lib. III. c. 2 ( Harduin. IV. 1352).-- Herardi Turon . Capit. iii. ann. 838 ( Baluz. I. 1285).-- Capitul. I. 21, 63; v. 69; VI. 215; Addit. II. c. 21.--Rabani Mauri de Magicis Artibus.-- Hincmar. de Divort. Lotbar. Interrog. xv.
the Manichæan dualistic theory, which placed the visible world under the control of Satan, but which it finally accepted as orthodox, and Thomas Aquinas proved that, with the permission of God, demons could bring about perturbations of the air. Agobard tells us that the belief in his province was universal, among all ranks, that there was a region named Magonia, whence ships came in the clouds and carried back thither the harvests destroyed by hail, the Tempestarii, as these sorcerers were called, being paid by the Magonians for bringing on the storms. Whenever the rumbling of thunder was heard it was a customary remark that a sorcerer's wind was coming. These Tempestarii carried on their nefarious trade in secrecy, but there was a recognized class of practitioners who professed to be able to neutralize them, and were regularly paid for doing so with a portion of the crops, which came to be known as the "canonical portion," and men who paid no tithes and gave nothing in charity were regular in contributing to these impostors. On one occasion three men and a woman were seized, charged with being Marronians who had fallen from one of their aerial ships. A meeting of the people was summoned, before whom the prisoners were brought in chains, and they were promptly condemned to be stoned to death, when Agobard himself came to the rescue, and after prolonged argument succeeded in procuring their liberation. A similar instance of extra-judicial action was seen when a destructive murrain invaded the herds, and the story spread that it was caused by Grimoald, Duke of Benevento, who, out of enmity to Charlemagne, sent emissaries to scatter a magic powder on the mountains and fields and streams. As Agobard says, every inhabitant of Benevento, with three wagons apiece, could not have sprinkled a territory so extensive as that affected, but nevertheless large numbers of wretches were captured and put to death on the charge of being concerned in the matter. When he adds that it was marvellous that these persons confessed their pretended crime, and could not be prevented from bearing false witness against themselves, either by scourging, torture, or the fear of death, we learn the means adopted to secure conviction; and in this early and irregular instance of the use of torture we see a foreshadowing of the time when all the extravagant absurdities of the Witches' Sabbat were, by the same efficacious methods, eagerly confessed, and the confessions persisted in to the stake. We see also what an atmosphere of superstitious terror pervaded the life of Europe. *
Carlovingian civilization was but a brief episode in the darkness of those dreary centuries. In the disorder which accompanied the breaking-up of the empire, the organization of feudalism, and the founding of the European monarchies, although the Church was quietly attributing to itself the functions and the jurisdiction on which were based its subsequent claims of theocratic supremacy, it took no efficient steps to destroy the kingdom of Satan, though his agents the diviners and sorcerers were as numerous as ever. The Council of Pavia in 850 merely prescribed penance during life for sorceresses who undertook to provoke love and hatred, leading to the death of many victims. There may have been an occasional explosion of popular cruelty, such as indicated by the brief mention in a doubtful MS. of the burning of a number of sorcerers in Saxony in 914, but in fact the Church came almost virtually to tolerate them. About the middle of the tenth century Bishop Atto of. Vercelli felt it necessary to revive and publish anew a forgotten canon of the Fourth Council of Toledo, which threatened with degradation and perpetual penance in a monastery any bishop, priest, deacon, or other ecclesiastic who should consult magicians or sorcerers or augurs. Atto, however, was a puritan, who endeavored to resist the general demoralization of the age. How little repugnance was felt for the forbidden arts is seen in the fact that the reputation for necromantic skill gained in Spain did not prevent the election of Gerbert of Aurillac to the archiepiscopal sees of Reims and Ravenna, and finally to the papacy itself; while as late as 1170 we have seen an
* Nithardi Hist. Lib. I. c. 5, ann. 834.-- Concil. Bracarens. I. ann. 563 c. S.-Barchard. Decret. x. 8.-- Ivon. Decret. XI. 36.-- Bernardi Comens. de Strigiis c. 14.-- Ghaerbald. Judic. Sacerd. 20.--Herard. Turon. capit. iii.--Conc. Paris. ann. 829 Lib. III. c. 2.--S. Agobardi Lib. de Grandine c. 1, 2, 15, 16.
Even as late as the eleventh century Bishop Burchard prescribes penance for believing that sorcerers can affect the weather or influence the human mind to affection or hatred ( Decret. xix. 5). In less than two centuries and a half Thomas of Cantimpré shows that it was perfectly orthodox to assert that tempests were caused by demons ( Bonuin universale, Lib. II. c. 56).--It could scarce be otherwise when we consider the complete control over the weather attributed to sorcerers in Norse magic, and the adoption of the heathen superstitions by mediæval Christianity.
archbishop of BesanC + ?on have recourse to an ecclesiastic skilled in necromancy to aid him in detecting some heretics. *
In fact, the Church occupied an inconsistent attitude. Occasionally it took the enlightened view that these beliefs were groundless superstitions. An Irish council of the ninth century anathematizes any Christian who believes in the existence of witches, and forces him to recant before admitting him to reconciliation. Similarly, in 1080, Gregory VII. in writing to Harold the Simple of Denmark, strongly reproves the custom of attributing to priests and women all tempests, sickness, and other bodily misfortunes: these are the judgments of God, and to wreak vengeance for them on the innocent is only to provoke still more the divine wrath. More generally, however, the Church admitted their truth and sought, though with little energy, to repress them with spiritual censures. This halting position is well illustrated by the canons of Burchard, Bishop of Worms, in the early part of the eleventh century, where sometimes it is the belief in the existence of sorcery that is penanced, and sometimes it is the practice of the art. If confessors, moreover, followed Burchard's instructions and interrogated their penitents in detail as to the various magic processes which they might have performed, it could only result in disseminating a knowledge of those wicked arts in a most suggestive way. At the same time Burchard, like the other canonists, Regino of Pruhm and Ivo of Chartres, gave an ample store of prohibitory canons drawn from the early councils and the writings of the fathers, showing that the reality of sorcery was freely admitted as well as the duty of the Church to combat it. So implicit was
* Concil. Ticinens. ann. 850 c. 25.-- Annal. Corbeiens. ann. 914 ( Leibnit. S. R. Brunsvic. II. 299).--Atton. Vercell. Capit. c. 48.-- Sigebert. Gemblacens. ann. 995.--Alberic. Trium Font. ann. 998, 999, 1002.-- Cæsar. Heisterbach. Dist. v. c. 18.
For the acquirements of Gerbert of Aurillac see Richeri Hist. Lib. II. c. xliii. sqq. A man capable of making, in the tenth century, a sphere to represent the earth, with the Arctic Circle and Tropic of Cancer traced on it, might well pass for a magician, although the sphericity of the earth was no secret to the Arabic philosophers ( Avicenna de Cœlo et Mundo c. x.). How durable was Gerbert's unsavory reputation is seen in the retention of the stories concerning him by the mediæval historians down to the time of Platina ( Ptol. Lucens. Hist. Eccles. Lib. XVIII. c. vi.-viii.-- Platinæ Vit. Pontif. s. v. Silvest. II.).
the belief in magic powers that the Church conceded the dissolution of the indissoluble sacrament of matrimony when the consummation of marriage was prevented by the arts of the sorcerer, and exorcisms and prayers and almsgiving and other ecclesiastical remedies proved powerless for three years to overcome the power of Satan. Guibert of Nogent relates, with pardonable pride, that although this occurred when his father and mother were married, through the malice of a stepmother, yet his mother resisted all persuasion to avail herself of a divorce, although the impediment continued for seven years, and the spell was broken at last, not by priestly ministrations, but by an ancient wise-woman. Such a cause was alleged when Philip Augustus abandoned his bride, Ingeburga of Denmark, on their marriage-day, and Bishop Durand, in his Speculum Juris, tells us that these cases were of daily occurrence. Even so enlightened a man as John of Salisbury airs his learning in describing all the varieties of magic, and is careful to define that if sorcerers kill men with the violence of their spells it is through the permission of God; while Peter of Blois, if he shows himself superior to the vulgar belief in omens, admits the potency of Satanic suggestiveness in the darker forms of magic. *
With this universal belief in sorcery and in its diabolic origin, there seems to have been no thought of enforcing the severity of the laws. About 1030, Poppo, Archbishop of Trèves, sent to a nun a piece of his cloak of which to make him a pair of shoes to be worn in saying mass. She bewitched them so that when he
* Synod. Patricii c. 16 ( Haddan and Stubbs, II. 329).-- Gregor. PP. VII. Regist. VII21.-- Reginon. de Discip. Eccles. II. 347 sqq.-- Burchardi Decret. Lib. x., Lib. XIX. c. 5.-- Ivon. Decreti P. XI.-- Ivon. Panorm. VI. 117; VIII. 61 sqq.-- P. II. Decret. Caus. XXXIII. Q. 1, c. 4. -- Mall. Maleficar. P. I. Q. 8. -- Guibert. Noviogent. de Vita sua I. 12.-- Rigord. de Gest. Phil. Aug. ann. 1193.-- Durandi Specul . Juris Lib. IV., Partic. iv., Rubr. de Frigidis, etc.-- Johann. Saresberiens. Polyerat. II. 9-12.-- Pet. Blesens. Epist. 65.
The belief in "ligattures" is one of the oldest and most universal of superstitions. Herodotus ( II. 181) relates that Amasis who reigned in Egypt about the middle of the sixth century D. C., found himself thus afflicted when he married the Cyrenean princess Ladice. Notwithstanding the political importance of maintaining the alliance cemented by the marriage, he accused her of employing sorcery and threatened her with death. In her extremity she made a vow in the temple of Venus to send a statue of the goddess to Cyrene. Her prayer was heard and her life was saved.
put them on he found himself dying of love for her. He resisted the desire and gave the shoes to one of his chief ecclesiastics, who experienced the same effect. The experiment was tried with like result on all the principal clergy of the cathedral, and when the evidence was overwhelming the fair offender was condemned simply to expulsion from the convent, while Poppo himself expiated his transient passion by a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. It was felt, however, that the discipline of the nunnery must be dangerously lax, and the other nuns were given the option of adopting a stricter rule or of dispersion. They chose the latter, and were replaced with a body of monks. When, in 1074, a revolt in Cologne forced the archbishop to fly, it is related among the excesses of the triumphant rebels that they threw from the walls and killed a woman defamed for having crazed a number of men by magic arts. That was regarded as a crime which three centuries later would have been a manifestation of praiseworthy zeal. About the same time a council in Bohemia warns the faithful not to have recourse in their troubles to sorcerers; but it only prescribes confession and repentance and to abstain from a repetition of the offence. *
Still, the accusation of sorcery was felt to be damaging and as it was easy to bring and hard to disprove, it was bandied about somewhat recklessly. It was not enough for Berenger of Tours to be compelled to abjure his notions concerning transubstantiation, but he was stigmatized as the most expert of necromancers. In the bitter strife of Gregory VII. with the empire, when, in 1080, the Synod of Brescia deposed him and elected Wiberto of Ravenna as antipope, one of the reasons alleged against him was that he was a manifest necromancer--an art which he was supposed to have learned in Toledo. The manner in which partisanship availed itself of this method of attack is curiously illustrated by the opposing accounts given of Liutgarda, niece of Egilbert, Archbishop of Trèves, at this period. He was a resolute imperialist, and accepted his pallium from Wiberto, after which he made Liutgarda abbess of a convent in his diocese. The account of his episcopate is written by a contemporary; one MS., which is
* Gest. Treviror. Archiep. c. 19.-- Lambert. Hersfeld. Annal. ann. 1074.--Höfler, Prager Concilien, p. xvi.
doubtless the genuine one, describes her as a cultured and exemplary woman, who ruled her nunnery in the service of God for forty years, leaving a happy memory behind her; another MS. of the same chronicle calls her a blasphemous witch and sorceress, under whose government the convent was almost ruined. After the Church had triumphed over the empire, it is easy to understand why such an interpolation should have been made. *
While thus the ancient laws against sorcery were practically falling into desuetude on the Continent, the legislation of the Anglo-Saxons shows that in Englandlyblac or witchcraft was the object of greater solicitude. About the year 900, the laws of Edward and Guthrum class witches and diviners with perjurers, murderers, and strumpets, who are ordered to be driven from the land, with the alternatives of reforming, of being executed, or of paying heavy fines--a provision which was repeatedly re-enacted by succeeding monarchs to the time of Cnut. Athelstan soon after decreed that when death was caused by lyblac, and the perpetrator confessed it, he should pay with his life; if he denied, he underwent the triple ordeal: failing in this he was imprisoned for four months, after which his kinsmen could release him on paying the wer-gild of the slain, the heavy fine of one hundred and twenty shillings to the king, and giving security for his good behavior. Towards the middle of the tenth century, Edward the Elder denounced perpetual excommunication for lyblac unless the offender repented. In the compilation known as the Laws of Henry I. murder by sorcery forfeited the privilege of redemption by paying wet-gild, and the perpetrator was handed over to the kinsmen of the slain, to be dealt with at their pleasure. For minor injuries thus caused, redemption was allowed as in other cases. When the accused denied, he was tried before the bishop, thus subjecting this offence to ecclesiastical jurisdiction. This severity seems to have changed with the Norman Conquest, for William the Conqueror, when besieging the Island of Ely, by advice of Ivo Taillebois placed at the head of his army a sorceress whose incantations were expected to paralyze the resistance of the defenders. Unluckily for the scheme, Hereward of Burgh made a flank attack on the
* Chron. Turon. ann. 1061.-- "Chron. Halberstadiens". ( Leibnit. S. R. Brunsv. II. 127-8).-- "Gest. Treviror". c. 38 ( Martene Ampl. Coll,. IV. 181-2).
invaders, and, setting fire to the reeds, burned the sorceress and all who were with her. *
When Olaf Tryggvesson, early in the eleventh century, endeavored to christianize Norway, he recognized the sorcerers as the most formidable enemies of the faith, and handled them unsparingly. At a Thing, or assembly, in Viken, he proclaimed that he would banish all who could be proved to deal with spirits or in witchcraft, and this he followed up with proceedings somewhat rigorous. He ransacked the district and had all the sorcerers brought together; he gave them a great feast with plenty of liquor, and when they were drunk he had the house fired, so that none escaped save Eyvind Kellda, a grandson of Harald Harfaager, and a peculiarly obnoxious wizard, who climbed through the smoke-hole in the roof. In the spring Olaf celebrated Easter on Kormt Island, when thither came Eyvind in a long ship fully manned with sorcerers. Landing, they put on caps of darkness, which rendered them invisible, and surrounded themselves with a thick mist, but when they came to Augvaldsness, where King Olaf lay, it became clear day and they were stricken with blindness, so that they wandered helplessly around till the king's men seized them and brought them before him. He had them bound and placed on a rock which was bare only at low water, and Snorri Sturlason says that in his time it was still known as the Skerry of Shrieks. Another pious act related of Olaf illustrates both the methods requisite to spread the gospel among the rugged heroes of Norway and one of the explanations given by the Christians of the powers of sorcerers. Olaf captured Eyvind Kinnrif, a noted sorcerer, and sought to convert him, but in vain. Then a pan of fire was placed upon his belly, which he stoically endured until he burst asunder before asking its removal. Regarding this tardy request as a sign of yielding, Olaf asked him " Eyvind, wilt thou now believe in Christ?""No," replied Eyvind, "I can take no baptism, for I am an evil spirit placed in a man's body by Lapland sorcery, because in no other way could my father and mother
* Laws of Edward and Guthrum, 11.-- Laws of Ethelred, v. 7.-- Cnut Secular. 4 (Ed. Kolderup Rosenvinge p. 36).-- Athelstan Dooms, I. 6.-- Laws of Edward the Elder, 6.-- Ll. Henrici lxxi. § 1.-- Ingulph Chron. Contin. ( Bohn's Edition, p. 258).
have a child," and with that he died. Yet in the earliest Icelandic code, the Grágás, compiled probably in 1118, there is no mention of sorcery, which seems to have been left to the spiritual courts; while in the contemporary ecclesiastical body of law the punishment of magic arts is only three years' exile, unless injury or death to man or beast has been wrought, when it is perpetual. In either case the accused is entitled to trial before twelve good men and true. *
Elsewhere thoughout Europe, by the end of the twelfth century, the repression of sorcery seems to have been well-nigh abandoned by both secular and ecclesiastical authorities. This was not because its practice had been either given up or rendered lawful. In 1149 we find Abbot Wibald of Corvey accusing Walter, one of his monks, of using diabolical incantations. The cause which led Alexander III., in 1181, to monopolize for the Holy See the canonization of saints was that the monks of the Norman abbey of Gristan were addicted to magic, and by its means endeavored to gain the reputation of working miracles; during the absence in England of the abbot, the prior one day got drunk at dinner and struck with a table-knife two of his monks, who retaliated by beating him to death, and he perished unhouselled, yet by evil arts the monks succeeded in inducing the people to adore him as a saint until Bishop. Arnoul of Lisieux reported the truth to Alexander. So easily were such offences condoned that in the case of a priest who, to recover something stolen from his church, employed a magician and looked into an astrolabe, Alexander only ordered the punishment of a year's suspension, and this decision was embodied by Gregory IX. in the canon law as a precedent to be followed. This method of divination involved the invocation of spirits, and was wholly unlawful, yet it was employed without scruple. John of Salisbury, who died in 1181, relates that when he was a boy he was given to a priest to be taught the psalms. His instructor mingled with his sacred functions the practice of catoptromancy, and once made use of his pupil and an older scholar
* Olaf Tryggvesson Saga, 69, 70, 83 ( Laing Heimskringla).-- Kristinrettr Thorlaks oc Ketils, c. xvi.
For the intimate connection between sorcery and malignant spirits, see Finn Magnusen's Priscæ Vet. Boreal. Mythologiæ Lexicon, s. v. Tröll, pp. 474 sqq.
to look into the polished basin, after due conjurations and the use of the holy chrism. John could see nothing, and was relieved from further service of the kind, but his comrade discerned shadowy forms and thus was a more useful subject. Thus the forbidden arts flourished with but slender repression, and in this period of virtual toleration they worked little evil, save perhaps an occasional case of poisoning in a love-potion. *
It might be expected that this toleration would cease as the human mind awakened and in its gropings began to cultivate with increased assiduity the occult sciences, in the endeavor to penetrate the secrets of nature; as scholastic theology developed itself into a system which sought to frame a theory of the universe; as the revived study of the Roman law brought again into view the imperial edicts against sorcery, and as the spiritual courts became effectively organized for their enforcement. Yet the development of persecution was wonderfully slow. The Church had a real and a dangerous enemy to combat in the threatening growth of heresy, and had little thought to bestow on a matter which did not endanger the power and privileges of the hierarchy. An occasional council, like that of Rouen in 1189 and of Paris in 1212, denounced the practitioners of magic, but there was no defined penalty, and only excommunication was threatened against them. Yet there was a popular idea that, like heresy, burning was the appropriate punishment, as in the case, about the same period, of a young cleric of Soest named Hermann, who, when vainly tempted by an unchaste woman, was accused by her of magic arts, was condemned and burned. In the flames he sang the Ave Maria until silenced by a blazing stick thrust into his mouth by a kinsman of the accuser; but his innocence shone
* "Wibaldi Epist."157 ( Martene Ampl. Coll. II. 352).-- Baron. Annal. ann. 1181, No. 6-10.--C. 1 Extra. XLV. 3.--C. 2 Extra. v. 21.-- Johan. Saresberiens. Polycrat. c. xxviii.
Catoptromancy was a practice duly handed down from classical times. Didius Julianus, during his short reign, found time to obtain foreknowledge of his own downfall and the succession of Septimius Severus, by means of boy who with bandaged eyes looked into a mirror after proper spells had been muttered over him ( Æl. Spartiani Did. Julian.7), and Hippolytus of Porto gives us in full detail the ingenious frauds by which this and similar feats were accomplished ( Refut. omn. Hæres. IV. 15, 28-40).
forth in the miracles wrought at his grave, and a chapel was built over it which stood as a warning against such inconsiderate zeal. *
Cæsarius of Heisterbach, to whom we owe this incident, has an ample store of marvels which show that superstition was as active as ever, that men were eager to gain what advantage they could from intercourse with Satan, and that such practices were virtually unrepressed. He tells of a certain ecclesiastic named Philip, a celebrated necromancer, dead only a few years previous, apparently without trouble from Church or State. A knight named Henry of Falkenstein, who disbelieved in demons, applied to him to satisfy his doubts. Philip obligingly drew a circle with a sword at a cross-roads and muttered his spells, when, with a tumult like rushing waters and roaring tempests, the demon came, taller than the trees, black, and of a most fearful aspect. The knight kept within the charmed circle and escaped immediate ill, but lost his color, and remained pallid during the few years in which he survived. A priest undertook the same experience, but became frightened and allowed himself to be dragged out of the circle; he was so injured that he died on the third day, whereupon Waleran of Luxembourg piously confiscated his house, showing that immunity was not always to be reckoned on. †
Compacts with Satan were also not infrequent. The heretics burned at Besançon in 1180 were found to have such compacts inscribed on little rolls of parchment under the skin of their armpits. It would be difficult to find any historical fact of the period apparently resting on better authority than the story of Everwach, who was still living as a monk of St. Nicholas at Stalum when Cæsarius described his adventures as related by eye-witnesses. He had been steward of Theodoric, Bishop of Utrecht, whom he served faithfully. Accused of malversation, he found some of his accounts missing, and in despair he invoked the devil, saying," Lord, if thou wilt help me in my necessity I will do homage to thee and serve thee in all things." The devil appeared,
* "Concil. Rotomagens. ann." 1189 c. 29 ( Bessin, Concil. Rotomagens. I. 97).-"Concil. Paris. ann." 1212 P. v. ( Martene Ampl. Coll. VII. 105).-- Cæsar. Heisterb. IV. 99.
† Cæsar. Heisterb. v. 2, 3.
and Everwach accepted his conditions of renouncing Christ and the Virgin and paying him homage, after which the accounts were proved without difficulty. Thenceforth Everwach was in the habit of openly saying; "Those who serve God are wretched and poor, but they who believe in the devil are prosperous," and he devoted himself to the study of magic arts. It shows how lax was the discipline of the time, when, in his zeal for Satan, he bitterly opposed Master Oliver, the Scholasticus of Cologne, who preached the cross in Utrecht, and on being reproved sought to slay him, being only prevented by a sickness of which he died. He was plunged into hell and subjected to the indescribable torments of the damned, but the Lord pitied him, and he returned to life on the bier at his own funeral. Thenceforth he was a changed man. In company with Bishop Otto of Utrecht he made the pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulchre, inflicting on himself all manner of austerities, and on his return gave his property to the Church and entered the convent at Stalum. There is another story, of a spendthrift young knight near Liége, who, after squandering his fortune, was induced by one of his peasants to appeal to Satan. On the promise of wealth and honors he renounced allegiance to God and rendered regular feudal homage to Satan; the latter, however, required him to also renounce the Virgin, and this he refused to do, wherefore, on his repenting, he was pardoned at her intercession.*
These instances, which could readily be multiplied, will suffice to show the tendency of popular thought and belief at this period. It is true that Roger Bacon, who was in so many things far in advance of the age, argued that much of magic was simply fraud and delusion; that it is an error to suppose that man can summon and
* Cæsar. Heisterb. II. 12; v. 18; xii. 23.
In spite of their lifelike contemporary details, these stories are evidently founded on that of Theophilus of Cilicia, which had so great a currency during the Middle Ages. He was archdeacon until dismissed by his bishop, when in despair he had recourse to Satan, to whom he gave a written compact pledging himself to endure the pains of hell throughout eternity. He was forthwith restored to his position and enjoyed high consideration until, overwhelmed with remorse, he appealed to the Virgin. By assiduous penitence he won her aid, and she caused the compact to be returned to him.--Hroswithæ de Lapsu et Convers. Theophili.
dismiss malignant spirits at will, and that it is much simpler to pray directly to God because demons can influence human affairs only through God's permission. Even Bacon, however, in asserting the uselessness of charms and spells, gives as his reason that their efficacy depended on their being made under certain aspects of the heavens, the determination of which was very difficult and uncertain. Bacon's partial incredulity only indicates the universality of the belief in less scientific minds, and, in view of the activity assigned to Satan in seeking human agents and servitors, and the ease with which men could evoke him and bind themselves to him, the supineness of the Church with regard to such offences is remarkable. The terrible excitement aroused by the persecution of the Stedingers and of Conrad of Marburg's Luciferans must indubitably have given a stimulus to the belief in demonic agencies. Thomas of Cantimpré tells us that he had from Conrad, the Dominican provincial, as happening to one of Conrad of Marburg's Luciferans, the well-known story that the heretic, endeavoring to convert a friar, conducted him to a vast palace where the Virgin sat enthroned in ineffable splendor surrounded by innumerable saints; but the friar, who had provided himself with a pyx containing a consecrated host, presented it to the Virgin with a demand that she should adore her Son, when the whole array vanished in darkness. Yet this excitement left behind it a reaction which rather created indisposition to further persecution. Pierre de Colmieu, afterwards Cardinal of Albano, when Archbishop of Rouen, in 1235, included invoking and sacrificing to demons and the use of the sacraments in sorcery only among the cases reserved to the bishops for granting absolution; and the cursory allusion to the subject by Bishop Durand in his Speculum Juris shows that, for at least a half-century later, the subject attracted little attention in the ecclesiastical courts. A synod of Anjou, in 1294, declares that according to the canons priests should expel from their parishes all diviners, soothsayers, sorcerers, and the like, and laments that they were permitted to increase and multiply without hindrance, to remedy which all who know of such persons are ordered to report them to the episcopal court, in order that their horrible malignity may be restrained. *
* "Rogeri Bacon Epist. de Secretis Operibus Artis" c. i., ii. (M. R. Series, pp
Still more remarkable is the indifference of secular jurists and lawgivers during the thirteenth century, when the jurisprudence of Europe was developing and assuming definite shape. In England there is a strong contrast with the Anglo-Saxon period in the silence respecting sorcery in Glanvill, Bracton, the Fleta, and Britton. The latter, in describing the circuits of the sheriffs, gives an elaborate enumeration of the offences about which they are to make inquisition, including renegades and misbelievers, but omitting sorcery, and the same omission is observable in the minute instructions given by Edward I. to the sheriffs in the Statute of Ruddlan in 1283, although Peter, Bishop of Exeter, in his instructions to confessors in 1287, mentions sorcerers and demon-worshippers among the criminals to whom they are to assign penance. It is true that Horn Myrror of Justice classes sorcery and heresy together as majestas, or treason to the King of Heaven, and we may assume that both were liable to the same penalty, though neither were actively prosecuted. It is the same with the mediæval laws of Scotland as collected by Skene. The Iter Camerarii embodies detailed instructions for the inquests to be held by the royal chamberlain in his circuits, but in the long list of crimes and misdemeanors requiring investigation there is no allusion to sorcery or divination. *
It is nearly the same in French jurisprudence. The Conseil of Pierre de Fontaines and the so-called Établissements of St. Louis contain no references to sorcery. The Livres de Jostice et de Plet, though based on the Roman law, makes no mention of it in its long list of crimes and penalties, although incidentally an imperial law is said to apply to those who slay by poisons or enchantments. Beaumanoir, however, though he seems only to know of sorcery employed to excite love, tells us that it is wholly under ecclesiastical jurisdiction; its practitioners err in the faith, and thus are justiciable by the Church, which summons them to abandon their errors, and in case of refusal condemns them as misbelievers. Then secular justice lays hold of them and inflicts death if it ap-
523-7).-- Th. Cantimprat. Bonum universal. Lib. II. c. 56.-- "Præcept. Antiq. Rotomag." c. 109 ( Bessin, Concil. Rotomagens. II. 67, 76).-- Durandi Specul. Juris Lib. IV. Partic. IV. Rubr. de Sortilegiis.-- "Synod. Andegravens. ann." 1294 c. 2 ( D'Achery, I. 737).
* Britton, ch. 29.-- Owen's Laws and Institutes of Wales, II. 910-2.-- P. Exon.
pears that their sorcery may bring death on man or woman, while if there is no danger of this, it imprisons them until they recant. Thus sorcery is heresy cognizable by the Church only, and punishable when abjured only by penitence; yet, when the obstinate sorcerer is handed over to the secular arm, in place of being burned like a Waldensian refusing to swear, the character of his heresy is weighed by the secular court, and if its intent be not homicide he is simply imprisoned until he recants, showing that sorcery was treated as the least dangerous form of heresy. Beaumanoir's assertion of ecclesiastical jurisdiction is confirmed by a contemporaneous decision of the Parlement of Paris in 1282, in the case of some women arrested as sorceresses in Senlis and tried by the maire and jurats. The Bishop of Senlis claimed them, as their offence pertained to his court; the magistrates asserted their jurisdiction, especially as there had been cutting of skin and effusion of blood, and the Parlement, after due deliberation, ordered the women delivered to the spiritual court. Yet, though this was the law at the time, it did not long remain so. Under the ancestral systems of criminal practice, when conviction or acquittal in doubtful cases depended on the ordeal or the judicial duel or on compurgation, the secular courts were poorly equipped for determining guilt in a crime so obscure, and they naturally abandoned it to the encroachments of the spiritual tribunals. As the use of torture, however, gradually spread, the lay officials became quite as competent as the ecclesiastical to wring confession and conviction from the accused, and they speedily arrogated to themselves the cognizance of such cases. At the South, where the Inquisition had familiarized them with the use of torture at an earlier period, we already, in 1274 and 1275, hear of an inquest held and of wizards and witches put to death by the royal officials in Toulouse. In the North, the trials of the Templars accustomed the public mind to the use of torture, and demonstrated its efficiency, so that the lay courts speedily came to have no hesitation in exercising jurisdiction over sorcery. In 1314 Petronille de Valette was executed in Paris as a sorceress. She had implicated Pierre, a merchant of Poitiers, and his nephew Perrot. They were forthwith put to the ban and
"Summula exigendi Confess." ( Harduin VII. 1126).-- Myrror of Justice c. I. § 4; c. II. § 22; c. III. § 14.-- Regiam Majest. Scotiæ, Edinburgi, 1609, fol. 163-7.
their property sequestrated, but at the place of execution Petronille had exculpated them, declaring them innocent on the peril of her soul. They hastened to Paris and purged themselves, and. the Parlement, May 8, 1314, ordered the Seneschal of Poitou to withdraw the proceedings and release the property. Sorcery was now beginning to be energetically suppressed, and henceforth we shall see it occupy the peculiar position of a crime justiciable by both the ecclesiastical and secular courts. *
Spain had been exposed to a peculiarly active infection. The fatalistic belief of the Saracens naturally predisposed them to the arts of divination; they cultivated the occult sciences more zealously than any other race, and they were regarded throughout Europe as the most skilled teachers and practitioners of sorcery. In the school of Cordoba there were two professors of astrology, three of necromancy, pyromancy, and geomancy, and one of the Ars Notoria, all of whom lectured daily. Arabic bibliographers enumerate seven thousand seven hundred writers on the interpretation of dreams, and as many more who won distinction as expounders of goetic magic. Intercourse with the Moriscos naturally stimulated among the Christians the thirst for forbidden knowledge, and as the Christian boundaries advanced, there was left in the conquered territories a large subject population allowed to retain its religion, and propagate the beliefs which had so irresistible an attraction. It was in vain that, in 845, Ramiro I. of Asturias burned a large number of sorcerers, including many Jewish astrologers. Such exhibitions of severity were spasmodic, while the denunciation of superstitions in the councils occasionally. held indicate the continued prevalence of the evil without the application of an effective remedy. Queen Urraca of Castile, in the early part of the twelfth century, describes her former husband, Alonso el Batallador of Aragon, as wholly given to divination and the augury of birds, and about 1220, Pedro Muñoz, Archbishop of Santiago, was so defamed for necromancy that by order of Honorius III. he was relegated to the hermitage of San Lorenzo. The ancient Wisigothic Law, or Fuero Juzgo, was for a time almost lost sight of in the innumerable local fueros which sprang up, until in
* Livres de Jostice et de Plet, pp. 177-83, 284 (Dig. XLVIII. viii. 3., Marcianus).--Beaumanoir, Coutumes du Beauvoisis, Cap. XI. §§ 25, 26.--Olim, II. 205, 619.--Vaissette, IV. 17-18; Chron. Bardin, Ib. IV. Pr. 5.
the eleventh century it was rehabilitated by Fernando I. of Castile. In Aragon, Jayme I., el Conquistador, in the thirteenth century, when recasting the Fuero of Aragon and granting the Fuero of Valencia, introduced penalties for sorcery similar to those of the Fuero Juzgo. * Thus the Wisigothic legislation was practically in force until, about 1260, Alonzo the Wise, of Castile, issued his code known as the Siete Partidas, in which all branches of magic are treated as completely under the secular power and in a fashion singularly rationalistic. There is no allusion to heresy or to any spiritual offence involved in occult science, which is to be rewarded or punished as it is employed for good or evil. Astrology is one of the seven liberal arts; its conclusions are drawn from the courses of the stars as expounded by Ptolemy and other sages; when an astrologer is applied to for the recovery of lost or stolen goods, and designates where they are to be found, the party aggrieved has no recourse against him for the dishonor inflicted, because he has only answered in accordance with the rules of his art. But if he is a deceiver, who pretends to know that whereof he is ignorant, the complainant can have him punished as a common sorcerer. These sorcerers and diviners who pretend to reveal the future and the unknown by augury, or lots, or hydromancy, or crystallomancy, or by the head of a dead man, or the palm of a virgin, are deceivers. So are necromancers who work by the invocation of evil spirits, which is displeasing to God and injurious to man. Philtres and love-potions and figurines, to inspire desire or aversion, are also condemned as often causing death and permanent infirmity, and all these practitioners and cheats are to be put to death when duly convicted, while those who shelter them are to be banished. But those who use incantations for a good purpose, such as casting out devils from the possessed, or removing ligatures between married folk, or for dissolving a hail-cloud or fog which threatens the harvests, or for destroying locusts or caterpillars, are not to be punished, but rather to be rewarded. †
* José Amador de los Rios (Revista de España, T. XVII. pp. 382, 384-5, 388, 392-3; T. XVIII. p. 6).--Concil Legionens. ann. 1012 c. 19; C. Compostellan. ann. 1031 c. 6; C. Coyacens. ann. 1050; c. 4; C. Compostellan. ann. 1056 c. 6 ( Aguirre, IV. 388, 396, 405, 414).--Histor. Compostellan. Lib. I. c. lxiv.--Pelayo, Heterodoxos Españoles, I. 590.
† Partidas, P. VII. Tit. ix. l. 17; Tit. xxiii. ll. 1, 2, 3.
Italy affords us the earliest example of mediæval legislation on the subject. In the first half of the twelfth century the Norman king of the two Sicilies, Roger, threatened punishment for compounding a love-potion, even though no injury resulted from it. The next recorded measure is found in the earliest known statutes of Venice, by the Doge Orlo Malipieri in 1181, which contain provisions for the punishment of poisoning and sorcery. Frederic II. was accused by his ecclesiastical adversaries of surrounding himself with Saracenic astrologers and diviners, whom he employed as counsellors, and who practised for his benefit all the forbidden arts of augury by the flight of birds and the entrails of victims, but though Frederic shared the universal belief of his age in keeping in his service a corps of astrologers with Master Theodore at their head, and was addicted to the science of physiognomy, he was too nearly a sceptic to have faith in vulgar sorcery. His reputation merely shared the fate of that of his protégé, Michael Scot, who translated for him philosophical treatises of Averrhoes and Avicenna. In his collection of laws known as the Sicilian Constitutions, he retained indeed the law of King Roger just alluded to, and added to it a provision that those who administer love-potions, or noxious, illicit, or exorcised food for such purposes, shall be put to death if the recipient loses his life or senses, while if no harm ensues they shall suffer confiscation and a year's imprisonment, but this was merely a concession to current necessities, and he was careful to accompany it with a declaration that the influencing of love or hatred by meat or drink was a fable, and he took no note in his code of any other form of magic. In the Latin kingdoms of the East the Assises de Jerusalem and the Assises d'Antioch are silent on the subject, unless it may be deemed to be comprised in a general clause in the former, declaring that all malefactors and all bad men and bad women shall be put to death. Yet, that sorcery was punished throughout Italy, and was regarded as subject to the secular tribunals, is shown by an expression in the bull Ad extirpanda of Innocent IV. in 1252, ordering all potentates in public assembly to put heretics to the ban as though they were sorcerers. *
* Constitt. Sicular. III. xlii. 1-3.--Cechetti, La Republica di Venizia e la Corte di Roma I. 15.--Chron. Senoniens. Lib. IV. c. 4 (D'Achery II. 631).--
In German legislation the Treuga Henrici, about 1224, contains the earliest reference to sorcery, classing it with heresy and leaving the punishment to the discretion of the judge; but the KayserRecht, the Sachsische Weichbild, and the Richstich Landrecht contain no allusion to it. In the Sachsenspiegel it is curtly included with heresy and poisoning as punishable with burning, and there is the same provision in the Schwabenspiegel, while in a later recension of the latter the subject is developed by providing that whoever, man or woman, practises sorcery or invokes the devil by words or otherwise, shall be burned or exposed to a harsher death at the discretion of the judge, for he has renounced Christ and given himself to Satan. In this it is evident that the spiritual offence is alone kept in view, without regard to evil attempted or performed, and it would further seem that the matter was within the competence of the secular courts. The earliest legislation of the Prussian marches, about 1310, specifies for sorcerers the loss of an ear, branding on the cheek, exile, or heavy fines, but says nothing of capital punishment. Among the Norsemen the temper of legislation on the subject is to be found in the Jarnsida, compiled in 1258 by Hako Hakonsen for his Icelandic subjects, and the almost identical Leges Gulathingenses, issued by
Huillard-Bréholles, Introd. pp. DXXV., DXXX.--Assises de Jerusalem, Baisse Court c. 271 (Ed. Kausler, Stuttgart, 1839).--Mag. Bull. Rom. I. 91.
Frederic's reputation is indicated in the lines--
"Amisit astrologos et magos et vates.
Beelzebub et Astaroth, proprios penates
Tenebrarum consulens per quos potestates
Spreverat Ecclesiam et mundi magnates."
(Huillard-Bréholles, 1. c.).
And Michael Scot, to succeeding generations, was not the philosopher, but the magician--
"Michele Scotto fu, che veramente
Delle magiche frode seppe il ginco"--(INFERNO, XX.)
whose wonders are commemorated in the "Lay of the Last Minstrel"--
"In these fair climes it was my lot
To meet the wondrous Michael Scott,
A wizard of such dreaded fame
That when in Salamanca's cave
Him listed his magic wand to wave,
The bells would ring in Nôtre Dame."
his son, Magnus Hakonsen, in 1274, which for five hundred years remained the common law of Norway. Magic, divination, and the evocation of the dead are unpardonable crimes, punished with death and confiscation; but the accused can purge himself with twelve compurgators, according to the Jarnsida, and with six, according to the code of Gula, thus showing that the crime was subject to the secular courts. *
In Sweden there is no allusion to sorcery in the laws compiled early in the thirteenth century by Andreas, Archbishop of Lunden; but in those issued by King Christopher in 1441, attempts on life by poison or sorcery are punished with the wheel for men and lapidation for women, and are tried by the Nämd--a sort of permanent jury of twelve men selected in each district as judges. In Denmark the laws in force until the sixteenth century were singularly mild. The accused had the right of defence with selected compurgators; the punishment for a first offence was infamy and withdrawal of the sacraments; for relapse, imprisonment, and finally death for persistent offending. In Sleswick the ancient code of the thirteenth century makes no provision for sorcery, nor does that of the free Frisians in the fourteenth. That this leniency was not the result of outgrowing the ancient superstitions we learn from Olaus Magnus, who characterizes the whole Northern regions as literally the seat of Satan. † In all this confused and varying legislation we can trace a distinct tendency to increased severity after the thirteenth century.
The slight attention paid in the thirteenth century by the Church to a crime so abhorrent as sorcery is proved by the fact
* Treuga Henrici, No. 21 (Böhlau, Nove Constit. Dom. Alberti, Weimar, 1858, p. 78). -- Sachsenspiegel Lib. II. c. 13. -- Schwabenspiegel, C. CXVI. § 12 (Ed. Senckenberg); Cod. Uffenbach. C. CCLXXI. § 6.--Lilienthal, Die Hexenprocesse der beiden Städten Braunsberg, Königsberg, 1861, p. 70.--Iarnsida, Mannhelge c. vi., xxv. (Ed. Hafniæ, 1847, pp. 22, 46).--Ll. Gulathingens. Mannhelge-Bolkr, c. iv., xxv. (Ed. Hafniæ, 1817, pp. 137, 197).
† Leges Scaniæ Provin. Andreæ Sunonis Archiep. Lunden. (Thorsen, Skanske Lov, Kjobenhavn, 1853).--Raguald. Ingermund. Ll. Suecor. Lib. x. c. 5 (Stockholmiæ, 1614).--Canut. Episc. Vibergens. Exposit. Legum Juciæ Lib. III. c. lxix. (Hafniæ, 1508).--Ancher, Farrago Legum Antiq. Daniæ (Hafnæ, 1776).--Leges Opstalbomicæ ann. 1323 (Gaertner Saxonum Leges Tres, Lipsiæ, 1730).--Olai Magni de Gent. Septentrion. Lib. III. c. 22.
that when the Inquisition was organized it was for a considerable time restrained from jurisdiction over this class of offences. In 1248 the Council of Valence, while prescribing to inquisitors the course to be pursued with heretics, directs sorcerers to be delivered to the bishops, to be imprisoned or otherwise punished. In various councils, moreover, during the next sixty years the matter is alluded to, showing that it was constantly becoming an object of increased solicitude, but the penalty threatened is only excommunication. In that of Trèves, for instance, in 1310, which is very full in its description of the forbidden arts, all parish priests are ordered to prohibit them; but the penalty proposed for disobedience is only withdrawal of the sacraments, to be followed, in case of continued obduracy, by excommunication and other remedies of the law administered by the Ordinaries; thus manifesting a leniency almost inexplicable. That the Church, indeed, was disposed to be more rational than the people, is visible in a case occurring in 1279 at Ruffach, in Alsace, when a Dominican nun was accused of having baptized a waxen image after the fashion of those who desired either to destroy an enemy or to win a lover. The peasants carried her to a field and would have burned her, had she not been rescued by the friars. *
Yet, as the Inquisition perfected its organization and grew conscious of its strength, it naturally sought to extend its sphere of activity, and in 1257 the question was put to Alexander IV. whether it ought not to take cognizance of divination and sorcery. In his bull, Quod super nonnullis, which was repeatedly reissued by his successors, Alexander replied that inquisitors are not to be diverted from their duties by other occupations, and are to leave such offenders to their regular judges, unless there is manifest heresy involved, and this rule, at the end of the century, was embodied in the canon law by Boniface VIII. The Inquisition being
* Concil. Valentin. ann. 1248 c. 12 (Harduin. VII. 427). -- C. Cenomanens. ann. 1248 (Martene Ampl. Coll. VII. 1377).--C. Mogunt. ann. 1261 c. 30 (Hartzeim III. 604).-- C. Nugaroliens. ann. 1290 c. 4 (Hard. VII. 1161).-- C. Baiocens. ann. 1300 c. 63 (Ib. VII. 1234). -- C. Treverens. ann. 1310 c. 79-84 (Martene Thesaur. IV. 257-8).-- C. Palentin. ann. 1322 c. 24 (Hard. VII. 1480).-- C. Salmanticens . ann. 1335 c. 15 (Ib. VII. 1973-4).--Annal. Domin. Colmariens. ann. 1279 ( Urstisii II.16).
thus in possession of a portion of the field, rapidly extended its jurisdiction. There was no limitation expressed when the pious Alfonse of Toulouse and his wife Jeanne, in 1270, at Aiguesmortes, when starting on the crusade of Tunis, issued letters-patent conceding that their servants and household should be answerable to the Inquisition for abjuration of the faith, heresy, magic, sorcery, and perjury. It is doubtless to this extension of the inquisitorial jurisdiction that we may attribute the increasing rigor which henceforth marked the persecution of sorcery. *
Alexander's definition, it is true, had left open for discussion a tolerably wide and intricate class of questions as to the degree of heresy involved in the occult arts, but in time these came all to be decided "in favor of the faith." It was not simply the worship of demons and making pacts with Satan that were recognized as heretical by the subtle casuistry of the inquisitors. A figurine to be effective required to be baptized, and this argued an heretical notion as to the sacrament of baptism, and the same was the case as to the sacrament of the altar in the various superstitious uses to which the Eucharist was put. Scarce any of the arts of the diviner in forecasting the future or in tracing stolen articles could be exercised without what the inquisitors assumed to be at least a tacit invocation of demons. For this, in fact, they had the authority of John of Salisbury, who, as early as the twelfth century, argued that all divination is an invocation of demons; for if the operator offers no other sacrifice, he sacrifices his body in performing the operation. This refinement was not reduced to practice, but in time the ingenious dilemma was invented that a man who invoked a demon, thinking it to be no sin, was a manifest heretic; if he knew it to be a sin he was not a heretic, but was to be classed with heretics, while to expect a demon to tell the truth is the act of a heretic. To ask of a demon, even without adoration, that which depends upon the will of God, or of man, or upon the future, indicated heretical notions as to the power of demons. In short, as Sylvester Prierias says, it is not necessary to inquire into the motives of those who invoke demons--they are all heretics, real or presumptive. Love-potions and philtres, by a similar system of
* Raynald. ann. 1258, No. 23.--Potthast. No. 17745,18396.--Eymeric. p. 133. --C. 8, § 4, Sexto v. 2.--Chron. Bardin. ann. 1270 (Vaissette, IV. Pr. 5).
exegesis, were heretical, and so were spells and charms to cure disease, the gathering of herbs while kneeling, face to the east, and repeating the Paternoster, and all the other devices which fraud and superstition had imposed on popular credulity. Alchemy was one of the sept ars demonials, for the aid of Satan was necessary to the transmutation of metals, and the Philosopher's Stone was only to be obtained by spells and charms; although Roger Bacon, in his zeal for practical science, assumes that both objects could be obtained by purely natural means, and that human life could be prolonged for several centuries. * In 1328 the Inquisition of Carcassonne condemned the Art of St. George, through which buried treasure was sought by spreading oil on a finger-nail with certain conjurations, and making a young child look upon it and tell what he saw. Then there was the Notory Art, communicated by God to Solomon, and transmitted through Apollonius of Tyana, which taught the power of the Names and Words of God, and operated through prayers and formulas consisting of unknown polysyllables, by which all knowledge, memory, eloquence, and virtue can be obtained in the space of a month--a harmless delusion enough, which Roger Bacon pronounces to be one of the figments of the magicians, but Thomas Aquinas and Ciruelo prove that it operates
* Archives de l'Inq. de Carc. ( Doat, XXVII. 7).--Bern. Guidon. Practica, P. III. c. 42, 43.--Th. Aquin. Summ. Sec. Sec. xc. 2; xcv. 4.--Johann. Saresberiens. Polycrat. c. xxviii.--Bern. Basin de Artibus Magiæ, conclus. iii.-ix.--Prieriat. de Strigimar. Lib. III. c. 1.--Eymeric. pp. 342, 443.-- Alonso de Spina, Fortalic. Fidei, fol. 51, 284.--Revelat. S. Brigittæ Lib. VII. c. 28.--Archidiac. Gloss. super c. accusatus § sane ( Eymeric.202).--Rogeri Bacon Op. Tert. c. xii.; Epist. de Secret. Operibus Artis c. vi., vii., ix.-xi.
When, in 1473, some Carmelites of Bologna asserted that it was not heretical to obtain responses from demons, Sixtus IV. promptly ordered an investigation, and directed the results to be transmitted to him under seal.--Pegnæ Append. ad Eymeric. p. 82.
Bernardo di Como draws the nice distinction that it is not heretical to invoke the devil to obtain the illicit love of a woman, for the function of Satan is that of a tempter.--Bernardi Comens. Lucerna Inquisit. s. v. Dæmones, No. 2.
In 1471 the arts of printing and alchemy were coupled together as reprehensible by the Observantine Franciscans, and their practice was forbidden under pain of disgrace and removal. Friar John Neyseeser disobeyed this rule, and "apostatized" to the Conventual branch of the Order, which was less rigid.-Chron. Glassberger ann. 1471. solely through the devil. A monk was seized in Paris in 1323 for possessing a book on the subject; his book was burned, and he probably escaped with abjuration and penance. *
The most prominent and most puzzling to the lawgiver of all the occult arts was astrology. This was a purely Eastern science-the product of the Chaldean plains and of the Nile valley, unknown to any of the primitive Aryan races, from Hindostan to Scandinavia. When the dominion of Rome spread beyond the confines of Italy it was not the least of the Orientalizing influences which so profoundly modified the original Roman character; and after a struggle it established itself so firmly that in great measure it superseded the indigenous auguries and haruspicium, and by the early days of the empire some knowledge of the influences of the stars formed an ordinary portion of liberal education. The same motives which led to the prohibition of haruspicium -- that the death of the emperor was the subject most eagerly inquired into --caused the Chaldeans or astrologers to be the objects of repeated savage edicts, issued even by monarchs who themselves were addicted to consulting them, but it was in vain. Human credulity was too profitable a field to remain uncultivated, and, as Tacitus says, astrologers would always be prohibited and always retained. Although the complexity of the science was such that it could be grasped in its details only by minds exceptionally constituted, through lifelong application, it was brought in homely fashion within the reach of all by restricting it to the observation of the moon, and applying the results by means of the diagram and tables known as the Petosiris, a description of which, attributed to the Venerable Bede, shows how the superstitions of pagandom were transmitted to the Northern races, and were eagerly accepted in spite of the arguments of St. Augustin to prove the nullity of the influence ascribed to the heavenly bodies. †
* Doat, XXVII. 7; XXX. 185.--Rogeri Bacon Epist. de Secretis operibus Artis c. iii.--Th. Aquin. Summ. Sec. Sec. XCVI. i.--Ciruelo, Reprovacion de las Superstitiones, P. III. c. 1.--Grandes Chroniques V. 272.--Guill. Nangiac. Contin. ann. 1323.--Savonarola contra l' Astrologia, Vinegia, 1536, fol. 33.--Ars Notoria, ap. Cornel. Agrippee Opp. Ed. Lugduni, I. 606.-- The Notory Art of Solomon, translated by Robert Turner, London, 1657.
† Tacit. Annal. II. 28-32; III. 22; XII. 14, 52, 68; Histor. II. 62.-- Zonaræ T. II. (pp. 185, 192).--Sueton. Vitell. 14.
-- Tertull. de Idololat. ix.--Lib. IX. Cod.
We have seen astrology classed as one of the liberal arts by Alonso the Wise of Castile, and the implicit belief universally accorded to it throughout the Middle Ages caused it to be so generally employed that its condemnation was difficult. I have alluded above to the confidence reposed by Frederic II. in the science, and to the Dominican astrologer who accompanied the Archbishop of Ravenna when as papal legate he led the crusade against Ezzelin da Romano. Ezzelin himself kept around him a crowd of astrologers, and was led to his last disastrous enterprise by their mistaken counsel. So thoroughly accepted were its principles that when, in 1305, the College of Cardinals wrote to Clement V. to urge his coming to Rome, they reminded him that every planet is most powerful in its own house. Savonarola assures us that at the end of the fifteenth century those who could afford to keep astrologers regulated ever action by their advice: if the question were to mount on horseback or to go on board ship, to lay the foundation of a house or to put on a new garment, the astrologer stood by with his astrolabe in hand to announce the auspicious moment--in fact, he says that the Church itself was governed by astrology, for every prelate had his astrologer, whose advice he dared not disregard. It is observable that astrology is not included, as a forbidden practice, in the inquisitorial formulas of interrogation during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. No books on astrology seem to be enumerated in the condemnation pronounced in 1290 by the Inquisitor and Bishop of Paris and the Archbishop of Sens, aided by the Masters of the University, on all books of divination and magic -- treatises on necromancy, geomancy, pyromancy, hydromancy, and chiromancy, the book of the Ten Rings of Venus, the books of the Greek and German Babylon, the book of the Four Mirrors, the book of the Images of Tobias ben Tricat, the book of the Images of Ptolemy, the book of Hermes the Magician to Aristotle, which they say Aros, or Gabriel, had from God, containing horrible incantations and detestable suffumigations. Astrology does not appear for condemnation in the Articles of the University of Paris in 1398, and the great learning of the irreproachable Cardinal Peter d'Ailly was employed in diffusing belief in its truths. On the
xviii. 2.--Prudent. contra Symmach. II. 449-57.--Bedæ opp. Ed. Migne I. 96366.--Augustin. de Civ. Dei Lib. v. c. 1-7.
other hand, as early as the twelfth century John of Salisbury, while asserting that the power of the stars was grossly exaggerated, declares that astrology was forbidden and punished by the Church, that it deprived man of free-will by inculcating fatalism, and that it tended to idolatry by transferring omnipotence from the Creator to his creations. He adds that he had known many astrologers, but none on whom the hand of God did not inflict divine vengeance. These views became virtually the accepted doctrine of the Church as expounded by Thomas Aquinas in the distinction that when astrology was used to predict natural events, such as drought or rain, it was lawful; when employed to divine the future acts of men dependent on free - will, it involved the operation of demons, and was unlawful. Zanghino says that though it is one of the seven liberal arts and not prohibited by law, yet it has a tendency to idolatry, and is condemned by the canonists. There wag, in fact, much in both the theories and practice of astrologers which trenched nearly upon heresy, not only through demoniac invocations, but because it was impossible that astrology could be cultivated without denying human free-will and tacitly admitting fatalism. The very basis of the so-called science lay in the influence which the signs and planets exercised on the fortunes and characters of men at the hour of birth, and no ingenious dialectics could explain away its practical denial of supervision to God and of responsibility to man. Even Roger Bacon failed in this. He fully accepted the belief that the stars were the cause of human events, that the character of every man was shaped by the aspect of the heavens at his birth, and that the past and future could be read by tables which he repeatedly and vainly sought to construct, yet he was illogical enough to think that he could guard against it by nominally reserving human freewill. * All astrologers thus practised their profession under liabil-
* Rolandini Chron. Lib. XII. c. 2 ( Murat. S. R. I. VIII. 344).-- Monach. Patavin. Chron. (Ib. VIII. 705).-- Raynald. ann. 1305, No. 7.-- Savonarola contra l'Astrologia, fol. 25.-- Villari, Storia di Savonarola, Ed. 1887, I. 197-8.-- MS. Bib. Nat., fonds latin, No. 14930, fol. 229-30.-- Doat, XXXVII. 258.-- Bern. Guidon. Pract. P. v.-- Johaun. Saresberiens. Polycrat. II. xix., xx., xxv., xxvi.-- Th. Aquin. Summ. See. Sec. xcv.-- Zanchini Tract. de Hæret. c. xxii.-- D'Argentré, I. I. 263; II. 154. --Eymeric. p. 317.--Manilii Astron. Lib. IV.-- Rogeri Bacon Op. Tert. c. xi. ( M. R. Series I. 35-6. Cf. 559-61).
ity of being at any moment called to account by the Inquisition. That this did not occur more often may be attributed to the fact that all classes, in Church and State, from the lowest to the highest, believed in astrology and protected astrologers, and some special inducement or unusual indiscretion was required to set in motion the machinery of prosecution.
We can thus understand the case of the celebrated Peter of Abano or Apono, irrespective of his reputation as the greatest magician of his age, earned for him among the vulgar by his marvellous learning and his unsurpassed skill in medicine. We have no details of the accusations brought against him by the Inquisition, but we may reasonably assume that there was little difficulty in finding ample ground for condemnation. In his Conciliator Differentium, written in 1303, he not only proved that astrology was a necessary part of medicine, but his estimate of the power of the stars practically eliminated God from the government of the world. The Deluge took place when the world was subject to Mars, in consequence of the conjunction of the planets in Pisces; it was under the lead of the moon when occurred the confusion of tongues, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the exodus from Egypt. Even worse was his Averrhoistic indifference to religion manifested in the statement that the conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter in the head of Aries, which occurs every nine hundred and sixty years, causes changes in the monarchies and religions of the world, as appears in the advent of Nebuchadnezzar, Moses, Alexander the Great, Christ, and Mahomet--a speculation of which the infidelity is even worse than the chronology. * It is not surprising that the Inquisition took hold of one whose great name was popularizing such doctrines in the University of Padua, especially as there was a large fortune to be confiscated. We are told that he at first escaped its clutches, but this probably was
* P. de Abano Conciliator Different. Philos. Diff. ix., x. ( Ed. Venet. 1494, fol. 14-15.). Cf. Albumasar de Magnis Conjunctionibus Tract III. Diff. i. ( Aug. Vindel . 1489).
The Conciliator was a work of immense reputation. The preface of the edition of 1494 speaks of three or four previous printed editions, and there were repeated later ones up to 1596. Curiously enough, it was never included in the Roman and Spanish Indexes, though it appears in that of Lisbon of 1624 ( Reusch, der Index der verbotenen Bücher, I. 35).
only through confession and abjuration, so that when he was prosecuted a second time it was for relapse. That he would have been burned there can be little doubt, had he not evaded the stake by opportunely dying in 1316, before the termination of his trial, for he was posthumously condemned: according to one account his bones were burned; according to another his faithful mistress Marietta conveyed them secretly away, and an effigy was committed to the flames in his place. If Benvenuto da Imola is to be believed, he lost his faith in the stars on his death-bed, for he said to his friends that he had devoted his days to three noble sciences, of which philosophy had made him subtle, medicine had made him rich, and astrology had made him a liar. His name passed into history as that of the most expert of necromancers, concerning whom no marvels were too wild to find belief. It mattered little that Padua erected a statue to him as to one of her greatest sons, and that Frederic, Duke of Urbino, paid him the same tribute. Like Solomon and Hermes and Ptolemy, so long as magic flourished his name served as an attractive frontispiece to various treatises on incantations and the occult sciences. *
Very similar, but even more illustrative, is the case of Cecco d'Ascoli. He early distinguished himself as a student of the liberal arts, and devoted himself to astrology, in which he was reckoned the foremost man of his time. His vanity led him to proclaim himself the profoundest adept since Ptolemy, and his caustic and biting humor made him abundance of enemies. Regarding astrology as a science, he inevitably brought it within Aquinas's definition of heresy. In his conception the stars ruled everything. A man born under a certain aspect of the heavens was doomed to be rich or poor, lucky or unlucky, virtuous or vicious, unless God should interfere specially to turn aside the course of nature. Cecco boasted that he could read the thoughts
* Bayle, s. v. Apone.-- G. Naudé, Apologie pour les Grands Hommes, Ch. XIV. -- Muratori Antiq. Ital. III. 374-5.
For the printed works attributed to Peter of Abano, see Grässe, "Bibliotheca Magica et Pneumatica," Leipzig, 1843. The one by which he is best known is the "Heptameron seu Elementa Magiæ," a treatise on the invocation of demons, printed with the works of Cornelius Agrippa. This version, however, is incomplete. A fuller and better one is among the MSS. of the Bibliothèque Nationale, fonds latin, No. 17870.
of a man or tell what he carried in his closed hand by knowing his nativity and comparing it with the position of the stars at the moment, for no one could help doing or thinking what the stars at the time rendered inevitable. All this was incompatible with free-will, it limited the intervention of God, it relieved man from responsibility for his acts, and it thus was manifestly heretical. So his numerous predictions, which we are told were verified, as to the fortunes of Louis of Bavaria, of Castruccio Castrucani, of Charles of Calabria, eldest son of Robert of Naples, won him great applause in that stirring time, yet, as they were not revealed by the divine spirit of prophecy, but were foreseen by astrologic skill, they implied the forbidden theory of fatalism. Cecco became official astrologer to Charles of Calabria, but his confidence in his science and his savage independence unfitted him for a court. On the birth of a princess (presumably the notorious Joanna I.), he pronounced that the stars in the ascendant would render her not only inclined, but absolutely constrained, to sell her honor. The unwelcome truth cost him his place, and he betook himself to Bologna, where he publicly taught his science. Unluckily for him, he developed his theories in commentaries on the Sphæra of Sacrobosco. * Villani tells us that in this he taught how, by incantations under certain constellations, malignant spirits could be constrained to perform marvels, but this manifestly is only popular rumor; such practices were wholly inconsistent with his conceptions, and there is no allusion to them in the inquisitorial proceedings. Cecco's audacity, however, rendered the book amply offensive to pious ears. To illustrate his views he cast the horoscope of Christ, and showed how Libra, ascending in the tenth degree, rendered his crucifixion inevitable; as Capricorn was at
* The Sphæra of Sacrobosco is a remarkably lucid and scientific statement of all that was known, in the thirteenth century, about the earth in its cosmical relations. Although it accepts, of course, the current theory of the nine spheres, it indulges in no astrological reveries as to the influence of the signs and planets on human destiny. It remained for centuries a work of the highest authority, and so lately as 1604, sixty years after the death of Copernicus, and on the eve of the development of the new astronomy by Galileo, it was translated, with a copious commentary, by a professor of mathematics in the University of Siena, Francesco Pifferi, whose astrological credulity offers a curious contrast to the severe simplicity of the original.
the angle of the earth, he was necessarily born in a stable; as Scorpio was in the second degree, he was poor; while Mercury in his own house in the ninth section of the heavens rendered his wisdom profound. In the same way he proved that Antichrist would come two thousand years after Christ, as a great soldier nobly attended, and not surrounded by cowards as was Christ. This was almost a challenge to the Inquisition, and Frà Lamberto del Cordiglio, the Bolognese inquisitor, was not slow to take it up. Cecco was forced to abjure, December 16, 1324, and was mercifully treated. He was condemned to surrender all his books of astrology and forbidden to teach the science in Bologna, publicly or privately; he was deprived of his Master's degree and subjected to certain salutary penance of fasting and prayer, together with a fine of seventy-five lire, which latter may possibly explain the lightness of the rest of the sentence. The most serious feature of the affair for him was that now he was a penitent heretic who could expect no further mercy; it behooved him to walk warily, for in case of fresh offence he would be a relapsed, doomed inevitably to the stake. Cecco's temperament, however, was not one to brook such constraint. He came to Florence, then under the rule of Charles of Calabria, and resumed the practice of his art. He circulated copies of his forbidden work, which he claimed had been corrected by the Bolognese inquisitor, but which contained the same erroneous doctrines; he advanced them anew in his philosophical poem, L'Acerba, and he employed them in the responses given to his numerous clients. In May, 1327, when all Italy was excited at the coming of Louis of Bavaria, he predicted that Louis would enter Rome and be crowned, he announced the time and manner of his death, and gave advice, which was followed, not to attack him when he passed by Florence. Perhaps all this might have escaped animadversion but for the personal enmity and jealousy of Charles of Calabria's chancellor, the Bishop of Aversa, and of Dino del Garbo, a renowned doctor of philosophy, esteemed the best physician in Italy. Be this as it may, in July, 1327, Frà Accursio, the Inquisitor of Florence, arrested him. There was ample evidence that he had continued to teach and act on the fatalistic theories which were subversive of free-will, but the Inquisition as usual required a confession, and torture was freely used to obtain it. A copy of the sentence and abjuration of 1324 was furnished by the Inquisitor of Bologna, and there was no question as to his relapse. From the beginning the end was inevitable, but there was a mockery of opportunity for defence allowed him, and it was not until December 15 that sentence was pronounced. In accordance with rule, the Bishop of Florence sent a delegate to act with the inquisitor, and an assembly of high dignitaries and experts was assembled to participate, including the Cardinal-legate of Tuscany, the Bishop of Aretino, and Cecco's enemy, the chancellor of Duke Charles. He was abandoned to the secular arm and delivered to Charles's vicar, Jacopo da Brescia. All his books and astrological writings were further ordered to be surrendered within twenty-four hours to the bishop or inquisitor. Ceeco was forthwith conducted to the place of execution beyond the walls. Tradition relates that he had learned by his art that he should die between Africa and "Campo Fiore," and so sure was he of this that on the way to the stake he mocked and ridiculed his guards; but when the pile was about to be lighted he asked whether there was any place named Africa in the vicinage, and was told that that was the name of a neighboring brook flowing from Fiesole to the Arno. Then he recognized that Florence was the Field of Flowers and that he had been miserably deceived. *
Astrology continued to hold its doubtful position with a growing tendency to its condemnation. There were few who could take the common-sense view of Petrarch, that astrologers might be useful if they confined themselves to predicting eclipses and storms, and heat and cold, but that when they talked about the fate of men, known only to God, they simply proved themselves to be liars. Eymerich tells us that if a man was suspected of necromancy and was found to be an astrologer it went far to prove him a necromancer, for the two were almost always conjoined. Gerard Groot denounced astrology as a science hostile to God and aiming to supersede his laws. In Spain, in the middle of the fourteenth
* Villani x. 40, 41.-- Lami, Antichità.Toscane, pp. 593-4.-- Raynald. ann. 1327, No. 46.-- Cantù, Eretici d' Italia, I.149-52.
I owe many of the above details to a sketch of Cecco's life in a Florentine MS. which I judge from the handwriting to be of the seventeenth century, and of which the anonymous author appears to be well informed; also, to a MS. copy of the elaborate sentence, much more full than the fragments given by Lami and Cantù.
century, both Pedro the Cruel of Castile and Pedro IV. of Aragon kept many astrologers whom they constantly consulted, but in 1387 Juan I. of Castile included astrology among other forms of divination subject to the penalties of the Partidas. Yet it continued to number its votaries among high dignitaries of both State and Church. The only shade on the lustre of Cardinal Peter d'Ailly's reputation was his earnest devotion to the science, and it would have gone hard with him had justice been meted out to him as to Cecco d'Ascoli, for it was impossible for the astrologer to avoid fatalism. It was a curiously erroneous prediction of his, uttered in 1414, that, in consequence of the retrogression of Jupiter in the first house, the Council of Constance would result in the destruction of religion, and peace in the Church would not be obtained; that, in fact, the Great Schism was probably the prelude to the coming of Antichrist. More fortunate was the computation by which he arrived at the date of 1789 as that which would witness great perturbations if the world should so long endure. The tolerance which spared Cardinal d'Ailly did not proceed from any change in the theory of the Church as to the heresy of interfering with the doctrine of free-will. Alonso de Spina points out that the astrological belief that men born under certain stars cannot avoid sinning is manifestly heretical. None the less so was the teaching that when the moon and Jupiter were in conjunction in the head of the Dragon any one praying to God could obtain whatever he wanted, as Peter of Abano found when he used this fortunate moment to secure stores of knowledge beyond the capacity of the unassisted human mind. Sprenger, the highest authority on demonology, held that in astrology there was a tacit pact with the demon. * All this shows that in the increasing hostility to occult arts astrology had gradually come under the ban, and the disputed question as to its position was finally brought to
* Petrarchi de Rebus Senilibus Lib. III. Epist. 1.-- Eymeric. p. 443.-- Acquoy, Gerardi Magni Epistt. pp. 111-19.-- Amador do los Rios ( Rovista de España, T. XVIII. p. 9).-- Novisima Recopilacion, Lib. XII. Tit. iv. l. 1.-- Concord. Astron. Veritatis et Narrat. Histor. c. lix., lx. (August. Vindel. 1490).-- Fortalic. Fidei Lib. II. Consid. vi.-- Savonarola contra l'Astrol. fol. 26.--Bayle, s. v. Apone.-Malleus Malef. P. I. Q. xvi.
The supreme power of the conjunction of Jupiter and the moon above alluded to is probably based on Albumasar de Magnis Conjunctionibus Tract. III. Diff. 2.
a decision, at least for France, by the case of Simon Pharees, in 1494. He had been condemned by the archiepiscopal court of Lyons for practising astrology, and was punished with the light penance of Friday fasting for a year, with the threat of perpetual imprisonment for relapse, and his books and astrolabe had been detained. He had the audacity to appeal to the Parlement, which referred his books to the University. The report of the latter was that his books ought to be burned, even as others had recently been to the value of fifty thousand deniers. All astrology pretending to be prophetic, or ascribing supernatural virtue to rings, charms, etc., fabricated under certain constellations, was denounced as false, vain, superstitious, and condemned by both civil and canon law, as well as the use of the astrolabe for finding things lost or divining the future, and the Parlement was urged to check the rapid spread of this art invented by Satan. The Parlement accordingly pronounced a judgment handing over the unlucky Simon to the Bishop and Inquisitor of Paris, to be punished for his relapse. Astrology, which is described as practised openly everywhere, is condemned. All persons are prohibited from consulting astrologers or diviners about the future, or about things lost or found; all printers are forbidden to print books on the subject, and are ordered to deliver whatever copies they may have to their bishops, and all bishops are instructed to prosecute astrologers. This was a very emphatic condemnation, but, in the existing condition of human intelligence, it could do little to check the insatiable thirst for impossible knowledge. Yet there were some superior minds which rejected the superstition. The elder Pico della Mirandola and Savonarola were of these, and Erasmus ridiculed it in the Encomium Moriæ. *
The question of oneiroscopy, or divination by dreams, was a puzzling one. On the one hand there was the formal prohibition of the Deuteronomist ( XVIII. 10), which in the Vulgate included
The superstitions concerning comets scarce come within our present scope. They will be found ably discussed by Andrew D. White in the Papers of the American Historical Association, 1887. We are told by a contemporary that Henry IV. lost his life in 1610 through neglect of the warning sent him by the learned Doctor Geronymo Oller, priest and astrologer of Barcelona, based upon the portents of a comet which appeared in 1607.--( Guadalajara y Xavierr, Expulsion de los Moriscos, Pampeluna, 1613, fol. 107).
* D'Argentré I. II. 325-31.-- Erasmi Encom. Moriæ, Ed. Lipsiens. 1829, III. 360.
the observer of dreams in its denunciations; on the other there were the examples of Joseph and Daniel, and the formal assertion of Job "when deep sleep falleth upon man, in slumberings upon the bed, then he openeth the ears of men and sealeth their instruction" ( Job XXXIII. 15, 16). In the twelfth century the expounding of dreams was a recognized profession which does not seem to have been forbidden. John of Salisbury endeavors to prove that no reliance is to be placed on them; Joseph and Daniel were inspired, and short of inspiration no divination from dreams is to be trusted. This, at least, was a more sensible and practical solution than the conclusion reached by Thomas Aquinas that divination from dreams produced by natural causes or divine revelation is licit, but if the dreams proceed from dæmonic influence it is illicit. Tertullian had long before ascribed to the pagans the power of sending prophetic dreams through the agency of demons, but unfortunately, no one could furnish a criterion to distinguish between the several classes of visions, and as a rule the dream-expounders were regarded as harmless. *
There was another class of cases which puzzled the casuists, for the bounds which divided sacred from goetic magic were very vague. There was a practice of celebrating mortuary masses in the name of a living man, under the belief that it would kill him. As early as 694 the seventeenth Council of Toledo prohibits this, under pain of degradation for the officiating priest and perpetual exile for him and for his employer; and in the middle of the fifteenth century the learned Lope Barrientos, Bishop of Cuenca, condemns it unreservedly. Yet a MS. of uncertain date, printed by Wright, while pronouncing it sin if done through private malice, for which the officiating priest should be deposed unless he purge himself with due penance, states that for a public object it is not a sin, because it manifests humility in placating God. Somewhat similar was a question which arose during a quarrel between Henry, Bishop of Cambrai, and his chapter in 1500. As a mode of revenge the dean, provost, and canons suspended divine service, for which they were excommunicated by the Archbishop of Reims. Under this pressure they resumed their holy functions, but varied them by introducing in the canon of the mass a sort of impreca-
* Johann. Saresberiens. Polycrat. c. xiv.-xvii.-- Th. Aquin. Summ. Sec. Sec. xcv. 6.-- Tertull. Apol.23.
tory litany, composed of comminatory fragments from the psalms and prophets, recited by the officiating priest with his back to the altar, while the responses were given by the boys in the choir. The frightened bishop appealed to the University of Paris, which, after many months' deliberation, gravely decided that the position of the priest and the responses of the boys rendered the services suspect of incantation; that imprecatory services are to be dreaded by those who give cause for them; that they are not lightly to be used, especially against a bishop who is ready for settlement in the courts, and that they ought not to be employed even against a contumacious bishop except in case of necessity arising from extreme peril. *
When, towards the close of the thirteenth century, the Inquisition succeeded in including sorcery within its jurisdiction, its organizing faculty speedily laid down rules and formulas for the guidance of its members which aided largely in shaping the uncertain jurisprudence of the period and gave a decided impulse to the persecution of those who practised the forbidden arts. A manual of practice, which probably bears date about the year 1280, contains a form for the interrogation of the accused covering all the details of sorcery as known at the time. This served as the foundation on which still more elaborate formulas were constructed by Bernard Gui and others. If space permitted, a reproduction of these would present a tolerably complete picture of current superstitions, but I can only pause to call attention to one feature in them. The earliest draught contains no allusion to the nocturnal excursions of the "good women" whence the Witches' Sabbat was derived, while the later ones introduce an interrogation concerning it, showing that during the interval it was attracting increased attention. It is further noteworthy that none of the formulas embrace questions concerning practices of vulgar witchcraft, which in the fifteenth and succeeding centuries, as we shall see, furnished nearly the whole basis of prosecutions for sorcery. †
* Concil. Toletan. XVII. ann. 694, c. v.-- Amador de los Rios ( Revista de España, T. XVIII. p. 19).-- Wright, Proceedings against Dame Alice Kyteler, pp. xxxii.-xxxiii.-- D'Argentré I. II. 344-5.
† MSS. Bib. Nat., fonds latin, No. 14930 fol. 229-30.-- Doat, XXXVII. 258.-Vaissette, III. Pr.374.-- Bern. Guidon. Pract. P. v.
Molinier ( Études sur quelques MSS. des Bibliothèques d'Italie, Paris, 1877,
When sorcery thus came under the jurisdiction of the Inquisition it came simply as heresy, and the whole theory of its treatment was altered. The Inquisition was concerned exclusively with belief; acts were of interest to it merely as evidence of the beliefs which they inferred, and all heresies were equal in guilt, whether they consisted in affirming the poverty of Christ or led to demon-worship, pacts with Satan, and attempts on human life. The sorcerer might, therefore, well prefer to fall into the hands of the Inquisition rather than to be judged by the secular tribunals, for in the former case he had the benefit of the invariable rules observed in dealings with heresy. By confession and abjuration he could always be admitted to penance and escape the stake, which was the customary secular punishment; while, having no convictions such as animated the Cathari and Waldenses, it cost his conscience nothing to make the necessary recantation. In the inquisitorial records, in so far as they have reached us, we meet with no cases of hardened and obdurate demon-worshippers. Inquisitorial methods could always secure confession, and the inquisitorial manuals give us examples of the carefully drawn formulas of abjuration administered and forms for the sentences to be pronounced. It may perhaps be questioned whether the fiery torture of the stake were not preferable to the inquisitorial mercy which confined its penitents to imprisonment for life in chains and on bread and water; but few men have resolution to prefer a speedy termination to their sufferings, and there was always the hope that exemplary conduct in prison might earn a mitigation of the penalty. It was probably in consequence of this apparent lenity that Philippe le Bel, in 1303, forbade the Inquisition to take cognizance of usury, sorcery, and other offences of the Jews; and we shall see hereafter that when it was forced to summon all its energies in the epidemics of witchcraft, it was obliged to abandon the rule and find excuses for delivering its repentant victims to the stake. *
About this time Zanghino gives us the current Italian ecclesiastical view of the subject. In his detailed description of the various species of magic, vulgar witchcraft finds no place, showing
pp. 35, 45) mentions the occurrence of similar formulas in the other manuals of the period.
* Bern. Guidon. Pract. P. 111. 42,43; P. v. vii. 12.-- Doat, XXVII. 150.
that it was unknown in Italy as in France. All such matters are under episcopal jurisdiction, and the Inquisition cannot meddle with them unless they savor of manifest heresy. But it is heretical to assert that the future can be foretold by such means, as this belongs to God alone; to receive responses from demons is heretical, or to make them offerings, or to worship sun, moon, or stars, planets or the elements, or to believe that anything is to be obtained except from God, or that anything can be done without the command of God, or that anything is proper and lawful which is disapproved by the Church. All this falls within the jurisdiction of the Inquisition, and it will be seen that the meshes of the net were small enough to let little escape. The penalties of death and confiscation, to be inflicted by the secular judge, doubtless refer to the impenitent and relapsed, as the cases which savored of heresy were punished as heresy by the inquisitor. Magic which did not thus savor of manifest heresy was subject to the episcopal courts, and was punishable by declaring the offender in mortal sin and debarred from communion; he and those who employed him were infamous; he was to be warned to abstain, with excommunication and other penalties, at the episcopal discretion, in case of disobedience. Yet the secular power by no means abandoned its jurisdiction over sorcery, which continued to be subject to the lay as well as to the ecclesiastical courts. The time, moreover, had not come for the pitiless extermination of all who dabbled in forbidden arts. By the Milanese law of the period the punishment of the sorcerer was left to the discretion of the judge, who could inflict either corporal or pecuniary penalties proportioned to the gravity of the offence. *
Sorcery was one of the aberrations certain to respond to persecution by more abundant development. So long as its reality was acknowledged and its professors were punished, not as sharpers, but as the possessors of evil powers of unknown extent, the more public attention was drawn to it the more it flourished. As soon as the Inquisition had systematized its suppression, we begin to find it occupy a larger and larger share of public attention. In 1303 one of the charges brought against Boniface VIII., in the Assem-
* Zanchini Tract. de Hæret. c. xxii.--Statuta Criminalia Mediolani e tenebris in lucem edita c. 63 Bergami, 1594).
bly of the Louvre, was that he had a familiar demon who kept him informed of everything, and that he was a sorcerer who consulted diviners and soothsayers. About the same time the Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, treasurer of Edward I., was accused of murder, simony, and adultery, to which was added that he consulted the devil, to whom he had rendered homage and kissed on the posteriors. King Edward intervened energetically in his behalf, and an inquisition ordered upon him by Boniface reported that the common fame existing against him proceeded from his enemies, so that he was allowed to purge himself with thirty-seven compurgators. In 1308 the Sire d'Ulmet was brought to Paris on the charge of endeavoring to kill his wife by sorcery, and the women whom he had employed were burned or buried alive. We have seen how nearly akin to these accusations were the charges brought against the Templars, and the success of that attempt was suggestive as to the effectiveness of the methods employed. When, after the death of Philippe le Bel, Charles of Valois was resolutely bent on the destruction of Enguerrand de Marigny, and the long proceedings which he instituted threatened to prove fruitless, it was opportunely discovered that Enguerrand had instigated his wife and sister to employ a man and woman to make certain waxen images which should cause Charles, the young King Louis Hutin, the Count of Saint-Pol, and other personages to wither and die. As soon as Charles reported this to Louis, the king withdrew his protection and the end was speedy. April 26, 1315, Enguerrand was brought before a selected council of nobles at Vincennes and was condemned to be hanged, a sentence which was carried out on the 30th; the sorcerer was hanged with him and the sorceress was burned, the images being exhibited to the people from the gallows at Montfaucon, which Enguerrand himself had built, while the Dame de Marigny and her sister, the Dame de Chantelou, were condemned to imprisonment. Thus Enguerrand perished by the methods which he and his brother, the Archbishop of Sens, had used against the Templars, and the further moral of the story is seen in the remorse of Charles of Valois, ten years later, when he lay on his death-bed and sent almoners through the streets of Paris to distribute money among the poor, crying, "Pray for the soul of Messire Enguerrand de Marigny, and of Messire Charles de Valois!" One of the accusations against Bernard Délicieux was that he had attempted the life of Benedict XI. by magic arts, and although this failed of proof, he confessed under torture that a book of necromancy found in his chest belonged to him, and that certain marginal notes in it were in his own handwriting. In this he could not have been alone among his brethren, for in the general chapter of the Franciscans in 1312 a statute was adopted forbidding, under penalty of excommunication and prison, any member of the Order from possessing such books, and dabbling in alchemy, necromancy, divination, incantation, or the invocation of demons. *
The growing importance of sorcery in popular belief received a powerful impetus from John XXII., who in so many ways exercised on his age an influence so deplorable. As one of the most learned theologians of the day, he had full convictions of the reality of all the marvels claimed for magic, and his own experience led him to entertain a lively dread of them. The circumstances of his election were such as to render probable the existence of conspiracies for his removal, and he lent a ready ear to suggestions concerning them. His barbarity towards the unfortunate Hugues, Bishop of Cahors, has been already alluded to, and before the first year of his reign was out he had another group of criminals to dispose of. In 1317 we find him issuing a commission to Gaillard, Bishop of Reggio, and several assessors to try a barber-surgeon named Jean d'Amant and sundry clerks of the Sacred Palace on the charge of attempting his life. Under the
* Differend de Boniface VIII. et de Ph. le Bel, Preuves, 103.-- Rymer, Fœd. II. 931-4.--Joann. S. Victor. Vit. Clement. V. (Muratori S. R. I. III. II. 457).-Grandes Chroniques V. 217-20, 291.--Guill. Nangiac. Contin. ann. 1315, 1325.-MSS. Bib. Nat., fonds latin, No. 4270 fol. 37-8, 144-5.
Enguerrand de Marigny had been all-powerful under Philippe le Bel, controlling the papal as well as the royal court, and his marvellous rise from obscurity led to the popular impression that he must be a skilful necromancer--
"Ce fu cil qui fist cardonnaux,
Et si le pape tint en ses las,
Qui de petits clers fist prélats--
--Si orent mainte gent créance
Que ce par art de nigromance
Fait, qu'en ce monde faisoit."--
Godefroi de Paris, v. 6620-9.
persuasive influence of torture they confessed that they had at first intended to use poison, but finding no opportunity for this they had recourse to figurines, in the fabrication of which they were skilled. They had made them under the invocation of demons; they could confine demons in rings and thus learn the secrets of the past and of the future; they could induce sickness, cause death, or prolong life by incantations, charms, and spells consisting simply of words. Of course they were condemned and executed, and John set to work vigorously to extirpate the abhorred race of sorcerers to which he had so nearly fallen a victim. We hear of proceedings against Robert, Bishop of Aix, accused of having practised magic arts at Bologna; and John, regarding the East as the source whence this execrable science spread over Christendom, sought to attack it in its home. In 1318 he ordered the Dominican provincial in the Levant to appoint special inquisitors for the purpose in all places subject to the Latin rite, and he called upon the Doge of Venice, the Prince of Achaia, and the Latin barons to lend their effective aid. He even wrote to the Patriarch of Constantinople and the Oriental archbishops, urging them to assist in the good work. Not satisfied with the implied jurisdiction conferred on the Inquisition by Alexander IV., in 1320 he had letters sent out by the Cardinal of S. Sabina formally conferring it fully on inquisitors and urging them to exercise it actively. Subsequent bulls stimulated still further the growing dread of magic by expressing his grief at the constant increase of the infection which was spreading throughout Christendom, and by ordering sorcerers to be publicly anathematized and punished as heretics and all books of magic lore to be burned. When he warned all baptized Christians not to enter into compacts with hell, or to imprison demons in rings or mirrors so as to penetrate the secrets of the future, and threatened all guilty of such practices that, if they did not reform within eight days, they should be subject to the penalties of heresy, he took the most effective means to render the trade of the sorcerer profitable and to increase the number of his dupes. Apparently he became dissatisfied with the response to these appeals, for in 1330 he deplored the continued existence of demon-worship and its affiliated errors; he ordered the prelates and inquisitors to speedily bring to conclusion all cases on hand and send the papers under seal to him for decision, and the inquisitors were commanded to undertake no new cases without a special papal mandate. Whatever may have been the motive of this last prohibition, it was not allowed to take effect in France. We have seen how the royal power about this time was commencing to exercise control over the Inquisition, and we shall see how, at the close of his life, John XXII. was accused of heresy as to the Beatific Vision, and was roundly threatened by Philippe de Valois. It was probably an incident of this quarrel that led the king, in 1334, to assume that the jurisdiction of the Inquisition over idolators, sorcerers, and heretics had been conferred by the crown, and to order his seneschals to see that no one should interfere with them in its exercise. This royal rescript seems to have been forgotten with the circumstances which called it forth, for in 1374 the Inquisitor of France applied to Greogry XI. to ask whether he should take cognizance of sorcery, and Gregory replied with instructions to prosecute such cases vigorously. *
The necessary result of all this bustling legislation was to strengthen the popular confidence in sorcery and to multiply its practice. In Bernard Gui's book of sentences rendered in the Inquisition of Toulouse from 1309 to 1323, there are no cases of sorcery, but we meet with several, tried in 1320 and 1321 in the episcopal Inquisition of Pamiers, and the fragmentary records of Carcassonne in 1328 and 1329 show quite a number of convictions. Inquisitors, moreover, commenced to insert a clause renouncing sorcery in all abjurations administered to repentant heretics, so that in case they should become addicted to it they could be promptly burned for relapse. †
Under the influence of this efficient advertisement the trade of the sorcerer flourished. In 1323 a remarkable case attracted much attention in Paris. The dogs of some shepherds, passing a cross-roads near Chateau-Landon, commenced scratching at a certain spot and could not be driven off. The men's suspicions were aroused, and they informed the authorities, who, on digging, found
* Raynald. ann. 1317, No. 52-4; ann. 1318, No. 57; ann. 1320, No. 51; ann. 1327, No. 45.-- Mag. Bull. Roman. I. 205.-- Ripoll II. 192.-- Arch. des Frères Prêcheurs de Toulouse ( Doat, XXXIV. 181).-- Arch. de l'Inq. de Carc. ( Doat, XXXV. 89).--Vaissette, IV. Pr. 23.--Raynald. ann. 1374, No. 13.
† Molinier, Études de quelques MSS. des Bibliothèques d'Italie, Paris, 1877, pp. 102-3.-- Doat, XXVII. 7 sqq., 140, 156, 177, 192; XXVIII. 161.
a box in which was imprisoned a black cat, with some bread moistened with chrism, blessed oil, and holy water, two small tubes being arranged to reach the surface and supply the animal with air. All the carpenters in the village were summoned, and one identified the box, which he had made for a certain Jean Prevost. Torture promptly brought a confession inculpating the Cistercian abbot of Sarcelles, some canons, a sorcerer named Jean de Persant, and an apostate Cistercian monk, his disciple. The abbot, it seems, had lost a sum of money, and had employed the sorcerer to recover it and find the thief. The cat was to remain three days in the box, to be then killed, and its skin cut into strips, with which a circle was to be made. In this circle a man standing with the remains of the cat's food thrust into his rectum was to invoke the demon Berich, who would make the desired revelation. The Inquisitor of Paris and the episcopal Ordinary promptly tried the guilty parties. Prevost opportunely died, but his remains were burned with his accomplice de Persant, while the ecclesiastics escaped with degradation and perpetual imprisonment. It is evident that de Persant was not allowed the benefit of abjuration, while the Cistercians were exposed to a penalty more severe than those imposed by the rules of their Order. These had been defined in the general chapter of 1290 to be merely incapacity for promotion, or for taking any part in the proceedings of the body, the lowest seat in choir and refectory, and Friday fasting on bread and water until released by the general chapter. The intervening quarter of a century had, however, wrought a most significant change in the attitude of the Church towards this class offences.*
The monastic orders evidently contributed their full share to this class of criminals. We happen to have the sentence, in 1329, by Henri de Chamay, of a Carmelite named Pierre Recordi, which illustrates the effectiveness of inquisitorial methods in obtaining avowals. The trial lasted for several years, and though the accused tergiversated and retracted repeatedly, his endurance finally gave way. He adhered at last to the confession that on five occasions, to obtain possession of women, he had made wax figurines with invocations of demons, mixing with them the blood
Guill. Nangiac. Contin. ann. 1323.-- Grandes Chroniques V. 269-73.--Statut Ord. Cisterc. ann. 1290 c. 2 ( Martene Thesaur. IV. 1485).
of toads and his own blood and saliva, as a sacrifice to Satan. He would then place the image under the threshold of the woman, and if she did not yield to him she would be tormented by a demon. In three cases this had succeeded; in the other two it would have done so, had he not been suddenly sent by his superiors to another station. On one occasion he pricked an image in the belly, when it bled. After the images had done their work he would cast them into the river and sacrifice a butterfly to the demon, whose presence would be manifested by a breath of air. He was condemned to perpetual imprisonment on bread and water, with chains on hands and feet, in the Carmelite convent of Toulouse; out of respect to the Order he was not subjected to the ceremony of degradation, and the sentence was rendered privately in the episcopal palace of Pamiers. One peculiar feature of the sentence is the apprehension expressed lest the officials of the convent should allow him to escape. *
The trade of the magician received a further advertisement in the story current at this time about Frederic of Austria. When, after his defeat at Mühldorf in 1322, by Louis of Bavaria, he lay a prisoner in the stronghold of Trausnitz, his brother Leopold sought the services of an expert necromancer, who promised to release the captive through the aid of the devil. In response to his invocation, Satan came in the guise of a pilgrim, and readily promised to bring Frederic to them if he would agree to follow him; but when he appeared to Frederic and told him to get into a bag which he carried around his neck and he would bring him to his brother in safety, Frederic asked him who he was. "Never mind who I am," he replied: "Will you leave your prison, as I tell you?" Then a great fear fell upon Frederic; he crossed himself and the devil disappeared. †
Even to distant Ireland the persecution of sorcery was brought in 1325 by that zealous Franciscan, Richard Ledrede, Bishop of Ossory. The Lady Alice Kyteler of Kilkenny had had four husbands, and their testamentary dispositions not suiting her children by the last three, the most efficient means of breaking their wills was to accuse her of having killed them by sorcery, after bewitch-
* Archives de l'Inq. de Carcassonne ( Doat, XXVII. 150).
† Matt. Neoburg. (Alb. Argentorat.) ann. 1323 (Urstisii II. 123).--Chronik des Jacob v. Königshofen ( Chroniken der deutschen Städte, VII. 467).
ing them to leave their property to her and to her eldest son, William Outlaw. Bishop Ledrede proceeded vigorously to make inquisition, but Lady Alice and William were allied to the leading officials in Ireland, who threw every difficulty in the way, and, as the canons against heresy were unknown in the island, he had an arduous task, being himself at one time arrested and thrown into prison. A less indomitable spirit would have succumbed, but he triumphed at last, though Lady Alice herself escaped his clutches and was conveyed to England. The trials of her assumed accomplices would seem to have been conducted without much respect to form, but with ample energy. Torture being unknown in English law, the bishop might have failed in eliciting confession had he not found an effective, if illegal, substitute in the whip. Petronilla, for instance, one of Lady Alice's women, after being scourged six times could endure no longer the endless increase of agony, and confessed all that was wanted of her. She admitted that she was a skilful sorceress, but inferior to her mistress, who was equal to any in England, or any in the world. She told how, at Lady Alice's command, she had sacrificed cocks in the crossroads to a demon named Robert Artisson, her mistress's incubus or lover, and how they made from the brains of an unbaptized child, with herbs and worms, in the skull of a robber who had been beheaded, powders and charms to afflict the bodies of the faithful, to excite love and hatred, and to make the faces of certain women appear horned in the eyes of particular individuals. She had been the intermediary between her mistress and the demon; on one occasion he had come to Lady Alice's chamber with two others, black as Ethiopians, when followed love-scenes of which the disgusting details may be spared. The case is interesting as developing a transition state of belief between the earlier magic and the later witchcraft; and it illustrates one of the most important points in the criminal jurisprudence of the succeeding centuries, which explains the unquestioning belief universally entertained as to the marvels of sorcery. Torture administered with unlimited repetition not only brought the patient into a condition in which he would confess whatever was required of him, but the impression produced was such that he would not risk its renewal by retraction even at the last. It was so with this poor creature, who persisted to the end with this tissue of absurdities, and who was burned impenitent. Some others involved in the accusation likewise perished at the stake, while some were permitted to abjure and were punished with crosses--probably the only occasion in which this penance was administered in the British Isles. *
While Bishop Ledrede was busy at this good work a trial occurred in England which illustrates the difference in efficiency between the ecclesiastical methods of trial by torture and those of the common law. Twenty-eight persons were accused of employing John of Nottingham and his assistant, Richard Marshall of Leicester, to make wax figures for the destruction of Edward II., the two Despensers, and the Prior of Coventry, with two of his officials who had tyrannized over the people and had been sustained by the royal favorites. Richard Marshall turned accuser, and the evidence was complete. The enormous sums of twenty pounds to Master John and fifteen pounds to Richard had been promised, and they had been furnished with seven pounds of wax and two ells of canvas. From September 27, 1324, until June 2, 1325, the two magicians labored at their work. They made seven images, the extra one being experimental, to be tried on Richard de Sowe. On April 27 they commenced operating with this by thrusting a piece of lead into its forehead, when at once Richard de Sowe lost his reason and cried in misery until May 20, when the lead was transferred to his breast, and he died May 23. The accused pleaded not guilty and put themselves on the country. An ordinary jury trial followed, with the result that they were all acquitted. A similar case came to light at Toulouse in June, 1326, when some sorcerers were discovered who had undertaken to make way with King Charles le Bel by means of figurines. They were promptly despatched to Paris, and the matter was taken in hand by the secular court of the Châtelet. It had all the resources of torture at its command, and its speedy and vigorous justice undoubtedly soon consigned them to the stake, although Pierre de Vic, a favored nephew of John XXII., who had been inculpated in their confessions, was pronounced innocent. It was probably not long after this that a similar attempt was made on the life of John XXII., though the culprits escaped until 1337, when
* Wright Contemporary Narrative of the Proceedings against Dame Alice Kyteler, Camden Soc., 1843.
they were tried and executed by Benedict XII. To shield themselves they implicated the Bishop of Béziers as their instigator. *
Yet organized persecution seems to have died away with the withdrawal of sorcery from the jurisdiction of the Inquisition by John XXII. in 1330, while the stimulus which his proclamations had given to the trade of the magician continued to extend it and render it profitable. The tendency of popular thought is shown by the attribution, in some places, of the Black Death to the incantations as well as to the poisons of the Jews. Such an expedient as that of the Council of Chartres in 1366, which ordered sorcerers to be excommunicated in mass every Sunday in all parish churches, would only serve to impress the popular mind with the reality and importance of their powers. During this period the study and practice of magic arts were pursued with avidity, and in many cases almost without concealment. Miguel de Urrea, who was Bishop of Tarazona from 1309 to 1316, was honored with the title of el Nigromantico, and his portrait in the archiepiscopal palace of Tarragona bears an inscription describing him as a most skilful necromancer, who even deluded the devil with his own arts. Gerard Groot himself, claimed by the Brethren of the Common Life as their revered founder, was in his youth an earnest student of the occult sciences, but during an illness he solemnly abandoned them before a priest and burned his books. Many years later he turned his knowledge to account by exposing a certain John Heyden, who had long practised on the credulity of the people of Amsterdam and its vicinity. On his coming to Daventry, Groot examined him and found him ignorant of necromancy and its allied arts, and concluded that he operated through a compact with Satan. Not willing to incur the irregularity of shedding blood, Groot contented himself with driving him away, and then, on learning that he had settled at Harderwick, wrote to the brethren there giving them an account of him; but the whole affair shows that such persons could count on practical toleration unless some zealot chose to set the laws in motion. The extent to which this toleration was carried, and the limitless credulity to which the popular mind had been trained are shown in the ac-
* Wright, op. cit. pp. xxiii.-xxix.-- Vaissette, IV. Pr. 173.--Raynald. ann. 1337, No. 30.
counts given by grave historians of the feats of Zyto, the favorite magician of the Emperor Wenceslas, who, in spite of the repeated condemnation of magic by the Councils of Prague during the latter half of the century, reckoned among his evil qualities a fondness for forbidden arts. When, in 1389, he married Sophia, daughter of the Elector of Bavaria, the latter, knowing his proclivities, brought to Prague a wagon-load of skilful conjurers and jugglers. While the chief of these was giving an exhibition of his marvels Zyto quietly walked up to him, opened his mouth, and swallowed him entire, spitting out his muddy boots, and then evacuated him into a vessel of water and exhibited him dripping to the admiring crowd. At the royal banquets Zyto would bother the guests by changing their hands into the hoofs of horses or oxen so that they could not handle their food; if something attracted them to look out of the window he would adorn them with branching antlers, so that they could not withdraw their heads, while he would leisurely eat their delicacies and drink their wine. On one occasion he changed a handful of corn into a drove of fat hogs which he sold to a baker, with a caution not to let them go to the river, but the purchaser disregarded the warning and they suddenly became grains of corn floating on the water. Of course such a character could not end well, and Zyto, when his time came, was carried off by his demon. Not only are all these marvels recorded as unquestionable facts by the Bohemian chroniclers, but they are conscientiously copied by the papal historian Raynaldus. *
Although Gregory XI., in 1374, had authorized the Inquisition to prosecute in all cases of sorcery, in France the Parlement included the subject within its policy of encroachment upon the ecclesiastical jurisdiction. In 1390 an occurrence at Laon, where a secular official named Poulaillier arrested a number of sorcerers, gave it occasion to intervene. As Bodin says, at that time Satan
* Lilienthal, Die Hexenprocesse der beiden Städte Braunsberg, p. 113.--Concil. Carnotens. ann. 1366 c. 11 (Martene Ampl. Coll. VII. 1368).-- Florez, España Sagrada, XLIX. 188.-- Acquoy, Gerardi Magni Epistt. pp. 107-11.--Concil. Pragens. ann. 1355 c. 61 ( Hartzheim, IV. 400).--Statuta brevia Arnesti ann. 1353 ( Höfler, Prager Concilien, p. 2).--Concil. Pragens. ann. 1381 c. 7 (Ib. p. 28).-Statut. Synod. Pragens. ann. 1407, No. 6 (Ib. p. 59).--Dubrav. Hist. Bohem. Lib. xxIII.--Raynald. ann. 1400, No. 14.
managed to have it believed that the stories of sorcery were false, so the Parlement stopped the proceedings, and thus having its attention drawn to the matter, decreed that in future cognizance of such offences should be confined to the secular tribunals, to the exclusion of the spiritual courts. * Secular judges, however, were ready to treat these cases with abundant sharpness. A case occurring at the Paris Châtelet in 1390 has much interest as affording us an insight into the details of procedure, and as illustrating the efficacy of torture in securing conviction. Except as regards the use of this expedient, now universal in all criminal cases, we see that the process is much fairer to the accused than that of the Inquisition, and we observe once more the ineffaceable impression produced by torture, which leads the despairing victim to adhere to the self-condemnation conducting him inevitably to the stake. Marion l'Estalée was a young fille de folle vie, madly in love with a man named Hainsselin Planiete, who deserted her, and, about July 1, 1390, married a woman named Agnesot. Eager to prevent this, if her confession is to be believed, she had applied to an old procuress named Margot de la Barre, for a philtre to fix his wandering affection, and when this failed Margot made for her two enchanted chaplets of herbs, which she threw where the bride and groom would tread on them during the festivities of the weddingday, assured that this would prevent the consummation of the marriage. The plot was unsuccessful, but Hainsselin and Agnesot fell sick, leading to the arrest of the two women.
On July 30 Margot was examined and denied all complicity. She was promptly tortured on le petit et le grand tresteau--which I conjecture to mean, the former, pouring water down the throat till the stomach was distended and then forcing it out by paddling the belly; the latter, the rack. This reduplicated torture produced no confession, and she was remanded for further hearing. August 17 Marion was taken in hand, when she denied, and was similarly tortured without result. On the 3d she was again examined and denied, and on being again ordered to the torture, she appealed to the Parlement; the appeal was promptly heard and rejected, and she was tortured as before, then taken to the kitchen and warmed, after which she was tortured a third time, but to no effect. On
* Bodini de Mayor. Demonoman. Lib. iv. c. 1.
the 4th she was brought in and refused to confess, but the indefinite repetition of torment without prospect of cessation had produced its effect on body and mind; the torture had been pitiless, for she is subsequently alluded to as much crippled and weakened by it, and when she was again bound on the tresteau, and the executioner was about to commence his work, she yielded and agreed to confess. On being unbound she detailed the whole story, and in the afternoon, on being brought in again, she confirmed it "sans aucune force ou constrainte." Then Margot was introduced, and Marion repeated her confession, which Margot denied and offered the wager of battle, of which no notice was taken. Margot then asserted her ability to prove an alibi on the day when she was said to have made the chaplets. The parties whom she named as witnesses were looked up for her and brought in the next day, when the evidence proved rather incriminating than otherwise. Marion was then made to repeat her confession, and not till then was Margot tortured a second time, but still without result. On the 6th Marion was again made to repeat her confession, after which Margot was brought in and bound to the tresteau. Marion's youthful vigor had enabled her to endure the torture thrice. Margot's age had diminished her power of resistance, and the two applications sufficed. Her resolution gave way, and before the torture commenced she promised to confess. Her story agreed with that of Marion, except in some embellishments, which serve to show how thoroughly untrustworthy were all such confessions, of which the sole object was to satisfy the merciless ministers of justice. When she enchanted the chaplets she invoked the demon by thrice repeating "Ennemi je te conjures au nom du Père, du Fils et du Saint Esperit que tu viegnes a moy icy;" then an "ennemi," or demon, promptly appeared, like those she had seen in the Passion-play, and after she had instructed him to enter into the bodies of Hainsselin and Agnesot he flew out of the window in a whirlwind, making a great noise and throwing her into mortal fear. The evidence was thus complete, and there would seem to be nothing left but prompt sentence, yet the tribunal manifested commendable desire to avoid precipitate judgment. Assessors and experts were called in. On August 7, 8, and 9 Marion was thrice made to repeat her confession, and Margot twice. On the latter day a consultation was held, and the decision was unanimous against
Margot, who was pilloried and burned the same day; but three of the experts thought that the pillory and banishment would suffice for Marion. Her case was postponed till the 23d, when another consultation was held; opinions remained unaltered, and as the majority was in favor of condemnation the prévôt condemned her, and she was burned the next day. Both the victims may have been innocent, and the whole story may have been invented to avoid the repetition of the intolerable torture; but, inevitable as was the result under the conditions of the trial, the judges manifested every disposition to deal fairly with the unfortunates in their hands, and could entertain no possible doubt as to the reality of the offence and of the apparition of the demon as described by Margot. * It is necessary to bear this in mind when estimating the conduct of the judges and inquisitors who sent thousands of unfortunates to the stake in the next two centuries, for offences which to a modern mind are purely chimerical, for, according to the jurisprudence of the age, no evidence could be more absolute than that on which rested the cruelly punished absurdities of witchcraft.
Simultaneous with this case was the burning of a sorceress named Jeanette Neuve or Revergade, August 6, 1390, in Velay. Although she was tried and executed by the court of the Abbey of Saint-Chaffre, this was in its capacity as haut-justicier, and not as a spiritual tribunal. A century later we should have found the case embroidered with full accounts of the Sabbat and of demonworship, but the time had not yet arrived for this. Jeanette was a poor wandering crone who had come to Chadron, within the abbatial jurisdiction, and earned a livelihood by curing diseases with charms, to which she usually added the prescription of a pilgrimage to some shrine of local renown. She must have gained reputation as a wise-woman, for the Sire de Burzet, quarrelling with his wife and desiring reconciliation, came to her for a philtre. She gave him a potion of which he died, and her fate was sealed. †
About this period may be dated a fresh impulse given to the belief in sorcery, whose continued growth during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries was destined to produce results so deplorable,
* Registre Criminel du Châtelet de Paris, I. 332-63 ( Paris, 1861).
† Chassaing, Spicilegium Brivatense, pp. 438-46.
and to present one of the most curious problems in the history of human error. The first indication of this new development is found in the action of the University of Paris. September 19, 1398, the theological faculty held a general congregation in the Church of St. Mathurin, and adopted a series of twenty-eight articles which thenceforth became a standard for all demonologists, and were regarded as an unanswerable argument to sceptics who questioned the reality of the wickedness of the arts of magic. The preamble recites that action was necessary in view of the active emergence of ancient errors which threatened to infect society; the old evils, which had been well-nigh forgotten, were reviving with renewed vigor, and some positive definition was required to guard the faithful from the snares of the enemy. The University then proceeded to declare that there was an implied contract with Satan in every superstitious observance, of which the expected result was not reasonably to be anticipated from God and from Nature, and it condemned as erroneous the assertion that it was permissible to invoke the aid of demons or to seek their friendship, or to enter into compacts with them, or to imprison them in stones, rings, mirrors, and images, or to use sorcery for good purposes or for the cure of sorcery, or that God could be induced by magic arts to compel demons to obey invocations, or that the celebration of masses or other good works used in some forms of thaumaturgy was permissible, or that the prophets and saints of old performed their miracles by these means which were taught by God, or that by certain magic arts we can attain to the sight of the divine essence. These latter clauses point to a dangerous tendency of coalescence between the arts of the sorcerer and of the theurgist, and indicate that in the higher magic of the day there was a claim to be considered as penetrating to the ineffable mysteries which surrounded the throne of God; in fact, these adepts declared that their arts were lawful, and they sought to prove their origin in God by pointing out that good flowed from them, and that the wishes and prophecies of those using them were fulfilled. All this the University condemned, and while on the one hand it denied that images of lead or gold or wax, when baptized, exorcised, and consecrated on certain days, possessed the powers ascribed to them in the books of magic, on the other hand it was equally emphatic in animadverting on the incredulity of those who denied that sorcery, incantations, and the invocation of demons possessed the powers claimed for them by sorcerers. *
Like all other efforts to repress sorcery, this of course only served to give it fresh significance and importance. The declaration that it was erroneous to doubt the reality of sorcery and its effects became a favorite argument of the demonologists. Gerson declared that to call in question the existence and activity of demons was not only impious and heretical, but destructive to all human and political society. Sprenger concludes that the denial of the existence of witchcraft is not in itself heresy, as it may proceed from ignorance, but such ignorance in an ecclesiastic is in itself highly culpable; such denial is sufficient to justify vehement suspicion of heresy, calling for prosecution, and we have seen what was the significance of "vehement suspicion" in inquisitorial practice. †
With popular credulity thus stimulated, the insanity of Charles VI. afforded a tempting opportunity for charlatans to market their wares. In 1397 the Maréchal de Sancerre sent to Paris from Guyenne two Augustinian hermits who had great reputation for skill in the occult sciences, and who promised relief. They pronounced the royal patient a victim of sorcery, and after some incantations he recovered his senses, but it proved only a lucid interval, and in a week he relapsed. This they charged upon the royal barber and a porter of the Duke of Orleans, who were arrested, but nothing could be proved against them, and they were discharged. For months the two impostors led a joyous life with ample fees, but at last they were compelled to name the author of the sorceries, and this time they had the audacity to pitch upon the king's brother, Louis of Orleans himself. This grew serious, and on being threatened with torture they confessed themselves sorcerers, apostates, and invokers of demons. They were accordingly tried, condemned, degraded from the priesthood, and mercifully beheaded and quartered. Undeterred by this example, in 1403 a priest named Ives Gilemme, who boasted that he had three
* D'Argentré I. II. 154. Cf. Bodin. de Magor. Demonoman.--Murner Tract. de Python. Contractu.--Basin de Artibus Magiæ.-- Pegnæ Comment. in Eymeric. p. 346.
† Gersoni Tract. de Error. circa Artem Magicam (Opp. Ed. 1494, xxi. G-H).-Mall. Maleficar. P. I. Q. 1, 8.
demons in his service, with some other invokers of demons, the Demoiselle Marie de Blansy, Perrin Hemery, a locksmith, and Guillaume Floret, a clerk, offered to cure the king, and were given a trial. They asked to have twelve men loaded with iron chains placed at their disposal; these they surrounded with an enclosure, and, after telling them not to be afraid, proceeded with all the invocations they could muster, but accomplished no results. They excused their failure by alleging that the men had crossed themselves, but this availed them nothing. Floret confessed to the Prévôt of Paris that the whole affair was a deception, and on March 24, 1404, they were all duly burned. It was probably this case which induced Cardinal Louis of Bourbon, in his provincial synod of Langres, in 1404, to prohibit strictly all sorcery and divination, and to warn his flock to place no trust in such arts, as their practitioners were mostly deceivers whose only object was to trick them out of their money. Priests, moreover, were strictly ordered, as had already been done by the Council of Soissons the year before, to report to the episcopal ordinaries all cases coming to their knowledge and all persons defamed for such practices. Had this policy been carried out, of treating sorcerers as sharpers, and of instituting an episcopal police to replace the Inquisition, at this time rapidly falling into desuetude, it might have averted the evils which followed, but the well-meant effort of Cardinal Louis was followed by no results. The belief in sorcery continued to strengthen, and when Jean Petit undertook to justify Jean sans Peur for the assassination of the Duke of Orleans, it was almost a matter of course that he should accuse the murdered prince of encompassing the king's insanity by magic, of which the most minute details were given, including the names of the two demons, Hynars and Astramein, whose assistance had been successfully invoked. *
In England, sorcery, as we have seen, had thus far attracted
* Religieux de S. Denis, Hist. de Charles VI., Liv. xvII. ch. i., Liv. xvIII. ch. 8.--Juvenal des Ursins, Hist. de Charles VI. ann. 1403.--Raynald. ann. 1404, No. 22-3.--Concil. Suessionens. ann. 1403 c. 7.-- Monstrelet, I. 39 (Ed. Buchon, 1843, pp. 80-3).-- Chron. de P. Cochon (Ed. Vallet de Viriville, p. 385).
Valentine of Milan, wife of Louis of Orleans, and her father, Galeazzo Visconti, had the reputation of being addicted to magic and of being privy to the attempt on the life of the king (ubi sup.).
little attention. Even as late as 1372 a man was arrested in Southwark with the head and face of a corpse in his possession, and a book of magic was found in his trunk. Tried before the Inquisition he would infallibly have confessed under torture a series of misdeeds and have ended at the stake; but he was brought before Sir J. Knyvet, in the King's Bench. No indictment even was found against him; he was simply sworn not to practise sorcery and was discharged, but the head and book were burned at Tothill at his expense. To the fair and open character of English law is doubtless to be attributed the comparative exemption of the island from the terror of sorcery, but when, at last, persecuting excitement arose in the Lollard troubles, the Church used its influence with the new Lancastrian dynasty to suppress the emissaries of Satan. In 1407 Henry IV. issued letters to his bishops reciting that sorcerers, magicians, conjurers, necromancers, and diviners abounded in their dioceses, perverting the people and perpetrating things horrible and detestable. The bishops, therefore, were commissioned to imprison all such malefactors, either with or without trial, until they should recant their errors or the king's pleasure could be learned respecting them. The placing of the matter thus in the hands of the Church, and depriving the accused of all legal safeguards, is most significant as a recognition that the ordinary forms of English law were not to be depended upon in such cases, and that public opinion as yet was too unformed for juries to be trusted. Under the regency the royal council seems to have assumed jurisdiction over the matter. In 1432 a Dominican of Worcester, Thomas Northfield, suspected of sorcery, was summoned before it with all his books of magic. A few days later it heard the celebrated Witch of Eye, Margery Jourdemayne, with the Dominican John Ashewell and John Virby, a clerk, who had been confined at Windsor under charge of sorcery, but they were discharged on giving bonds for good behavior. The Witch of Eye did not fare so well when, in 1441, she was implicated in the accusation brought against the Duchess of Gloucester, of making and melting a wax figurine of Henry VI. The duchess confessed and escaped with the penance of walking bareheaded thrice through the streets with wax tapers of two pounds each, and offering them at the shrines of St. Paul's, Christ Church, and St. Michael's in Cornhill, after which she was imprisoned and finally banished to Chester. Her secretary, Roger, was hanged, drawn, and quartered, and Margery was burned--the whole affair being political. A similar endeavor to take political advantage of the belief in sorcery occurred in 1464, in connection with the marriage of Edward IV. and Elizabeth Woodville, when his constancy to her was attributed to the magic arts of her mother, Jacquette, widow of the Regent Bedford in first marriage. Jacquette did not wait to be attacked, but turned upon her accusers, Thomas Wake and John Daunger, who had talked about her using leaden images of the king and queen, and had shown one of them broken in two and wired together. They disclaimed responsibility, and endeavored to shift the burden each on the other; but in 1483 Richard III. did not fail to make the most of the matter, and in the act for the settlement of the crown described Edward's "pretensed marriage" as brought about by "sorcerie and witchcraft committed by the said Elizabeth and her moder, Jacquette duchesse of Bedford." Thus England was gradually prepared to share in the horrors of the witchcraft delusions. *
Perhaps the most remarkable trial for sorcery on record is that of the Maréchal de Rais, in 1440, which has long ranked as a cause celébre, although it is only of late that the publication of the records has enabled it to be properly understood. The popular belief at the time is indicated by Monstrelet, who tells us that the marshal was accustomed to put to death pregnant women and children in order with their blood to write the conjurations which secured him wealth and honors; Jean Chartier alludes to his putting children to death and performing strange things contrary to the faith to attain his ends, and in the next century Gaguin speaks of his slaying children in order with their blood to divine the future. † Curious as is the case in many aspects, perhaps its chief interest lies in the psychological study which it affords as an illustration of the extreme development of the current ecclesiastical teaching with regard to the remission of sins.
In the France of the fifteenth century there was no career more
* Wright, Dame Kyteler, pp. ix., xv.-xx.-- Rymer, Fœd. VIII. 427; X. 505; XI. 851.
† Monstrelet, II. 248.-- Jean Chartier, Hist. de Charles VII. ann. 1440 (Ed. Godefroy, p. 106).--Rob. Gaguin. Hist. Franc. Lib. x. c. 3.
promising than that of Gilles de Rais. Born in 1404 of the noble stock of Montmorency and Craon, grandson of the renowned knight, Brumor de Laval, grandnephew of du Guesclin, of kindred with the Constable Clisson, and allied with all that was illustrious in the west of France, his barony of Rais rendered him the head of the baronage of Britanny. His territorial possessions were ample, and when, while still a youth, he married the great heiress, Catharine de Thouars, he might count himself among the wealthiest nobles of France. His bride is said to have brought him one hundred thousand livres in gold and movables, and his revenue was reckoned at fifty thousand. At the age of sixteen he won the esteem of his suzerain, Jean V., Duke of Britanny, by his courage and skill in the campaign which ended the ancient rivalry between the houses of de Montfort and de Penthièvre. At twenty-two, following the duke's brother, the Constable Artus de Richemont, he entered the desperate service of Charles VII., with a troop maintained at his own expense, and he distinguished himself in the seemingly hopeless resistance to the English arms." When Joan of Arc appeared he was charged with the special duty of watching over her personal safety, and, from the relief of Orleans to the repulse at the gates of Paris, he was ever at her side. In the coronation ceremonies at Reims he received, though but twenty-five years old, the high dignity of Marshal of France, and in the September following be was honored with permission to add to his arms a border of the royal fleurs-de-lis. There was no dignity beneath the crown to which his ambition might not aspire, for he maintained himself so skilfully between the opposing factions of the constable and of the royal favorite, Le Trémouille, that when the latter fell, in 1433, his credit at the court was unimpaired. *
He was, moreover, a man of unusual culture. His restless curiosity and thirst for knowledge led him to accumulate books at a time when it was rare for knights to be able to sign their names. Chance has preserved to us the titles of St. Augustin "City of God," "Valerius Maximus," Ovid "Metamorphoses" and "Suetonius," as fragments of his library; and on his trial one of the reasons he gave for liking an Italian necromancer was the choice
* Bossard et Maulde, Gilles de Rais, dit Barbe-bleue, Paris, 1886, pp. 16, 43, 49-51, 53, 57, Pr. p. clvii.
Latinity of his speech. He delighted in rich bindings and illuminations. On one occasion he is described, but a few months before his arrest, as engaged in his study in ornamenting with enamels the cover of a book of ceremonies for his chapel. Of music and the drama he was also passionately fond. In these pursuits he was a fit comrade for the good King René, as in the field he was the mate of Dunois and La Hire. *
Yet the life which promised so much in camp and court was blighted by the fatal errors of his training. The death of his father while he was a child of eleven left him to the care of a weak and indulgent grandfather, Jean de Craon, whose authority he soon shook off. His fiery nature ran riot, and he grew up devoured with the wildest ambition, abandoned to sensual excesses of every kind, and with passions unrestrained and untamable. When on trial he repeatedly addressed the wondering crowd, urging all parents to train their children rigidly in the ways of virtue, for it was his unbridled youth that had led him to crime and a shameful death. †
Although, in the charges preferred against him, his aberrations are said to have commenced in 1426, he himself asserted that the fatal plunge was not made until 1432, after the death of his grandfather. About that time he began to withdraw from active life, and after 1433 he is no longer heard of in the field, although the war of liberation offered its prizes as abundantly as ever. ‡
Then commenced a strange and unexampled dual existence. To the outward world he was the magnificent seigneur, intent only on display and frivolity. His immeasurable ambition, diverted from its natural career, found unworthy gratification in making the vulgar stare with his gorgeous splendor. He affected a state almost royal. A military household of over two hundred horsemen accompanied him wherever he went. He founded a chapter of canons, with service and choir fit for a cathedral, and this was his private chapel, likewise attached to his person, costing him immense sums, including portable organs carried on the
* Bossard et Maulde, Gilles de Rais, dit Barbe-bleue, Paris, 1886, Pr. pp. liii., lxxvii., clii.
† Ibid. p. 21; Pr. pp. xlix., lviii.
‡ Ib. pp. 48-51; Pr. pp. xxi.-xxvi., xlvi., xlix.
shoulders of six stout serving-men. Not less extravagant was his passion for theatrical displays. The drama of the age, though rude, was costly, and when he exhibited freely to the multitude spectacular performances, there were immense structures to be built and hundreds of actors to be clad in cloths of gold and silver, silks and velvets, and handsome armor, the whole followed by public banquets to the spectators, in which rich viands were served in profusion and rare wines and hippocras flowed like water. These were only items in his expenditure; his purse and table were open to all and his artistic tastes were gratified without regard to cost. In one visit to Orleans, where his retinue filled every inn in the city, he was said to have squandered eighty thousand gold crowns between March and August, 1435. This ruinous prodigality was accompanied with the utmost disorder in his affairs. It was beneath the dignity of a great seigneur to attend to business, and all details were abandoned to the crowd of pimps and parasites and flatterers attracted by his lavish recklessness, among whom the principal were Roger de Briqueville and Gilles de Sillé. Gold must be raised at any price; his revenues were farmed out in advance, the produce of field and forest and salt-works was disposed of at low prices, and he soon began to sell his estates at less than their value, usually reserving a right of redemption within six years. In a short time he is estimated to have consumed from this source alone not less than two hundred thousand crowns. Already, in 1435 or 1436, his family became alarmed at his mad career; they appealed to Charles VII., who issued letters, in accordance with a legal custom of the time, interdicting him from alienating lands and revenues, and all persons from contracting with him. This was published with sound of trump in Orleans, Angers, Blois, Machecoul, and elsewhere outside of Britanny. Within the duchy, Jean V. prohibited its publication. Notwithstanding his surname of le Bon and le Sage, he was a greedy and unscrupulous prince, who, as one of the chief purchasers of the marshal's estates, was interested in the ruin of his subject. He continued to secure profitable bargains, subject always to the right of redemption, and manifested for his dupe the greatest friendship, appointing him lieutenant-general of the duchy, and entering into a brotherhood of arms with him, while privately 'mocking and ridiculing him as a fool. As a last resort, Gilles's younger brother,
René de la Suze, and his cousin, the Admiral de Loheac, captured and garrisoned the castles of Champtocé and Machecoul, but in 1437 and 1438 Gilles retook them, with the aid of the duke, to whom he had sold the former. *
Such was the external life of Gilles de Rais, to all appearance that of a liberal, pious noble, whose worst foible was thoughtless extravagance. Beneath the surface, however, lay an existence of crime more repulsive than anything chronicled by Tacitus or Suetonius. There are some subjects so foul that one shrinks from the barest allusion to them, and of such are the deeds of Gilles de Rais. For the sake of human nature one might hope that the charges which brought him to the gallows and stake were invented by those who plotted his ruin, but an attentive examination of the evidence brings conviction that amid manifest exaggeration there was substantial foundation of fact. Ordinary indulgence having palled upon the senses of the youthful voluptuary, about the year 1432 he abandoned himself to unnatural lusts, selecting as his victims children, whom he promptly slew to secure their silence. At first their bodies were thrown into oubliettes at the bottom of towers in his ordinary places of residence. When Champtocé was about to be surrendered to the duke, the bones of about forty children were hastily gathered together and carried off; when René de la Suze was advancing on Machecoul, the same number were extracted from their hiding-place and burned. Scared by this narrow escape from detection, Gilles subsequently had the bodies burned at once in the fireplace of his chamber and the ashes scattered in the moats. So depraved became his appetites that he found his chief enjoyment in the death agonies of his victims, over whose sufferings he gloated as he skilfully mangled them and protracted their torture. When dead he would criticise their beauties with his confidential servitors, would compare one with another, and would kiss with rapture the heads which pleased him most. Not Caligula, when, to gain fresh appetite for his revels, he caused criminals to be tortured by the side of his banquet-table, or Nero, when enjoying the human torches
* Bossard et Maulde, Gilles de Rais, dit Barbe-bleue, Paris, 1886, pp. 61-66, 72-3, 78-81, 92-116, 173, 269; Pr. pp. cliv.-clv., clvii., clix.-- Très-Ancien Coutume de Bretagne c. 83 ( Bourdot de Richebourg, IV. 220).-- D'Argentré, Comment. in Consuetud. Britann. pp. 1647-55.
illuminating his unearthly orgies, found such delirium of delight in inflicting and in watching human agony. *
While such were his recreations, his serious pursuit was the search for the philosopher's stone--the Universal Elixir. which should place unlimited wealth and power in his hands. To this end his agents were on the watch to bring him skilled professors in the art, and he served as the dupe of a succession of charlatans, whose promises kept him ever in the hope that he was on the point of attaining the fulfilment of his desires. He never ceased to believe that once, at his castle of Tiffauges, the operation was about to be crowned with success, when the sudden arrival of the Dauphin Louis forced him to destroy his furnaces; for though, as we have seen, alchemy was not positively included in the prohibited arts, its practice was ground for suspicion, and Louis, even in his youth, was not one to whom he could afford to confide so dangerous a secret. This confident hope explains the recklessness of his expenditures and his careless alienations, in which he retained a right of redemption, for any morrow might see him placed beyond the need of reckoning with his creditors. Yet, as already stated, although alchemy assumed to be a science, in practice it was almost universally coupled with necromancy, and few alchemists pretended to be able to achieve results without the assistance of demons, whose invocation became a necessary department of their art. So it was with those employed by Gilles de Rais, and no more instructive chapter in the history of the frauds of magic can be found than in his confession and that of his chief magician, Francesco Prelati. The latter had a familiar demon named Barron, whom he never had any difficulty in evoking when alone, but who would never show himself when Gilles was present, and in the naïve accounts which the pair give of their attempts and failures, one cannot help admiring the quick-witted ingenuity of the Italian and the facile credulity of the baron. On one occasion, in answer to Prelati's earnest prayer for gold, the tantalizing demon spread countless ingots around the room, but forbade his touching them for some days. When this was reported to Gilles he naturally desired to feast his eyes upon the treasure, and Prelati conducted him to the chamber. On opening the door, however, he
* Bossard et Maulde, Pr. pp. lxxxiv.-xcii., xcv.-xcix.
cried out that he saw a great green serpent as large as a dog coiled up on the floor, and both took to their heels. Then Gilles armed himself with a crucifix containing a particle of the true cross, and insisted on returning, but Prelati warned him that such expedients only increased the danger, and he desisted. Finally the malicious demon changed the gold into tinsel, which, when handled, turned into a tawny dust. It was in vain that Gilles gave to Prelati compacts signed with his blood, pledging himself to obedience in return for the three gifts of knowledge, wealth, and power; Barron would have none of them. The demon was offended with Gilles for not keeping a promise to make some offering to him; if a small request were made it should be a trifle, such as a pullet or a dove; if something greater it must be the member of a child. Children's bodies were not scarce where Gilles resided, and be speedily placed in a glass vessel a child's hand, heart, eyes, and blood, and gave them to Prelati to offer. Still the demon was obdurate, and Prelati, as he said, buried the rejected offering in consecrated ground. Gilles has had the reputation of sacrificing unnumbered children in his necromantic operations, but this is the only case elicited on his trial, and the number of times it is brought into the evidence shows the immense importance attached to it by the prosecution. *
It was impossible that a career such as this could continue for eight years without exciting suspicion. Though for the most part Gilles selected his victims from among the beggars who crowded his castle gates, attracted by his ostentatious charities--children for whom there was no one to make inquiry--yet he had his agents out through the land enticing from parents the offspring whom they would see no more. Two women, Etiennette Blanchu and Perrine Martin, better known as La Meffraye, were the most successful of these purveyors, and it came to be noticed that when he was in Nantes the children who frequented the gates of his Hôtel de la Suze were apt to disappear unaccountably. His confidential servants, Henri Griart, known as Henriet, and Étienne Corillaut, nicknamed Poitou, when they saw a handsome youth would engage him as a page without concealment, ride off with
* Bossard et Maulde, Pr. pp. xxvi., xxxiv., xlvii.-lii., lv.-lvi., lxii.-lxxii., lxxxviii., xcviii., ci., cxvii.-- Monstrelet, II. 248.
him, and he would be heard of no more. It is rather curious, indeed, how tardily suspicion was aroused, for up to within a year or two of the end there were mothers who had no hesitation in confiding their children to the terrible baron. At his castles of Tiffauges and Machecoul there was little disguise. He was hautjusticier in his lands: between him and his villeins there was, as de Fontaines says, no judge but God; they could not fly, for they were attached to the glebe, and they could only rest silent in dread suspense as to where the next bolt would fall. Even as far off as St. Jean-d' Angely, Machecoul had the name of a place where children were eaten, and at Tiffauges they said that for one child that disappeared at Machecoul there were seven at Tiffauges. Yet so far was the truth from being guessed that the story ran among the peasantry that Michel de Sillé, when a prisoner with the English, had been obliged to promise, as part of his ransom, twentyfour boys to serve as pages, and that when the tale was complete the disappearances would cease. Still suspicion grew. One of the marshal's confidants, though not fully initiated in his secrets, a priest named Eustache Blanchet, grew alarmed and ran away from Tiffauges, taking up his residence at Mortagne-sur-Sèvre. Here he learned from Jean Mercier, castellan of La Roche-surYon, that in Nantes and Clisson and elsewhere it was public rumor that Gilles killed numbers of children, in order with their blood to write a necromantic book which, when completed, would enable him to capture any castle and prevent any one from withstanding him. This grew to be the popular belief, as recorded by Monstrelet, and so impressed was Blanchet's imagination with it that, after his return to Tiffauges, at Easter, 1440, just before the catastrophe, when Gilles invited him and another priest into his study to exhibit to them his ornamentation of the binding of the ceremonial book of his chapel, some sheets of paper written in red, lying on the desk, convinced him that the popular report was true. In this little scene, the contrast between the peaceful artistic labors of the marshal and the dread conjurations supposed to be written with his own hand in innocent blood, is a type of his strange career. *
What was the number of his victims can never be known.
* Bossard et Maulde, Pr. pp. lxxv., lxxvii., lxxxviii.-xcii., xcv.-xcix., cxvii.-cxl.
With the exaggeration customary in such cases some writers have estimated them at seven hundred or eight hundred. In his confession Gilles said that the number was great, but he kept no count. In the civil process against him it is stated at over two hundred, but in the articles of accusation in the ecclesiastical court, which were elaborately drawn up after obtaining all possible testimony, the figure is given as one hundred and forty, more or less, and this is probably a full estimate. *
Yet, strange as were the crimes of Gilles de Rais, even stranger was his profound conviction that he had in no way so incurred the wrath of God that the Church could not readily insure his salvation at the cost of some of the customary penances. He was solicitous about his soul in a fashion very uncommon with demonworshippers, and in all his projected and rejected compacts with Satan he was careful to insert a clause that he should not suffer in body or soul. He was regular in the observances of religion. On the Easter previous to his arrest a witness describes him as going behind the altar with a priest for confession, and then taking the communion with the rest of the parishioners, and when these latter, uneasy at their companionship with so great a lord, desired to rise he bade them stay, and all remained together until the Eucharist was administered to all. When he founded his chapter of canons and dedicated it to the Holy Innocents, there might seem to be a grim pleasantry in his choice of patron saints, yet there can be no doubt that he felt that he was thus atoning for the massacre of the innocents which he himself was constantly perpetrating. More than once he had a transient emotion of repentance; he took vows to abandon his guilty life, and by a pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulchre to obtain pardon for the evil he had wrought--pardon which he never seems to have doubted could be thus easily won, and reasonably enough, in view of the plenary indulgences which were so lavishly distributed and sold. After making his public confession, when he could have no further hope on earth, he turned to the crowded audience and exhorted them to hold fast to the Church and to pay her the highest honor. He had always, he said, kept his heart and his affections on the Church, but for which, in view of his crimes, he believed that Satan would have strangled
* Bossard et Maulde, pp. 212-13; Pr. pp. xxiv., l.
him and carried him off, body and soul. This trust in the saving power of the Church gave him the absolute confidence in his salvation which is not the least noteworthy feature in his strange character. When, after he and Francesco Prelati had corroborated each other's confessions, and they were about to part, he embraced and kissed his necromancer with sobs and tears, saying, "Adieu, Francoys, mon amy; we shall see each other no more in this world: I pray God to give you patience and knowledge: be certain that if you have patience and hope in God we shall meet each other in the great joy of paradise. Pray God for me, and I will pray for you." There was none of the agonizing doubt that racked the tender conscientiousness of the Friends of God, no mental struggle, but the calm assurance, born of implicit belief in the teachings of the Church, that a man might lead a life of unimaginable crime and at any moment purchase his salvation. *
How long Gilles might have continued his devastating career it would be hard to guess, had it not suited the interest of Duke Jean and of his chancellor, Jean de Malestroit, Bishop of Nantes, to bring him to the stake. Both of them had been purchasers of his squandered estates, and might wish to free themselves from the equity of redemption, and both might hope to gain from the confiscation of what remained to him. To assail so redoubtable a baron was, however, a task not lightly to be undertaken: the Church must be the leader, for the civil power dared not risk arousing the susceptibilities of the whole baronage of the duchy. Gilles's impetuous temper furnished them the excuse.
The marshal had sold the castle and fief of Saint-Étienne de Malemort to Geoffroi le Ferron, treasurer of the duke--possibly a cover for the duke himself -- and had delivered seizin to Jean le Ferron, brother of the purchaser, a man who had received the tonsure and wore the habit of a clerk, thus entitling him to clerical immunity, even though he performed no clerical functions. Some cause of quarrel subsequently arose, which Gilles proceeded to settle in the arbitrary fashion customary at the time. On Pentecost, 1440, he led a troop of some sixty horsemen to SaintÉtienne, left them in ambush near the castle, and with a few followers went to the church where Jean was at his devotions. Mass
* Bossard et Maulde, Pr. pp. xxvii.-xxviii., xlvi., xivii., lii., lv., lviii., lxxii., lxxx.
was about concluded when the intruders rushed in with brandished weapons, and Gilles addressed Jean: "Ha, scoundrel, thou hast beaten my men and committed extortions on them; come out or I will kill thee!" It was with difficulty that the frightened clerk could be reassured. He was dragged to the gate of the castle and forced to order its surrender, when Gilles garrisoned it and carried him off, finally imprisoning him in Tiffauges, chained hand and foot. *
The offence was one for which the customs of Britanny provided a remedy in the civil courts, but the duke zealously took up the cause of his treasurer and summarily ordered his lieutenantgeneral to surrender the castle and the prisoners under a penalty of fifty thousand crowns. Indignant at this unlooked-for intervention, Gilles maltreated the messengers of the duke, who promptly raised a force and recaptured: the place in dispute. Tiffauges, where the prisoners lay, was in Poitou, beyond his jurisdiction, but his brother, the Constable de Richemont, besieged it, and Gilles was forced to liberate them. Having thus submitted, he ventured in July to visit the duke at Josselin: he had some doubts as to his reception, but Prelati consulted his demon and announced that he could go in safety. He was graciously received, and imagined that the storm had blown over. So safe did he feel that while at Josselin he continued his atrocities, putting to death several children and causing Prelati to evoke his demon. †
While the powers of the State thus hesitated to attack the criminal, the Church was busily preparing his downfall. He had been guilty of sacrilege in the violence committed in the church of Saint-Étienne, and he had violated its immunities in the person of Jean le Ferron. Yet, in that cruel age, when war spared neither church nor cloister, these were offences too frequent to justify his ruin, and in the earlier stages of the proceedings they are not even alluded to. On July 30 Jean de Malestroit, in whose bishopric of Nantes the barony of Rais was situated, issued privately a declaration reciting that in a recent visitation he and his commissioners had found that Gilles was publicly defamed for
* Bossard et Maulde, pp. 231-5; Pr. pp. xxix., cii.-cxvi., cliv.
† Très Anc. Cout. de Bretagne c. 62 ( Bourdot de Richebourg IV. 216).-- Bossard et Maulde , pp. 235-6; Pr. pp. liii., lxxi.
murdering many children, after gratifying his lust on them, of invoking the demon with horrid rites, of entering into compacts with him, and of other enormities. Though in a general way synodal witnesses were quoted in substantiation of these charges, only eight witnesses were personally named, seven of them women, all residents of Nantes, whose subsequent testimony shows us that they had lost children, whose disappearance they thought they could connect with Gilles. The object of this paper was doubtless to loosen the tongues of those to whom it might be shown, but whatever diligence was used in gathering evidence was fruitless, for when the trial opened, two months later, but two additional witnesses had been procured, of the same indecisive kind as the previous ones. The only charge they made was the abduction of children, and this was in no sense a crime within the competence of the ecclesiastical court. Evidently the awful secrets of Tiffauges and Machecoul had not leaked out. It was necessary to hazard something, to strike boldly, and when Gilles and his retainers were in the hands of justice its methods could be relied upon to procure from them evidence sufficient for their own conviction. *
The blow fell September 13, when the bishop issued a citation summoning Gilles to appear for trial before him on the 19th. The recital of his misdeeds in the previous letter was repeated, with the significant addition of "other crimes and offences savoring of heresy." This was served upon him personally the next day, and he made no resistance. Some rumor of what was impending must have been in the air, for his two chief instigators and confidants, Gilles de Sillé and Roger de Briqueville, saved themselves by flight. The rest of his nearest servitors and procurers, male and female, were seized, including Prelati, and carried to Nantes. On the 19th he had a private hearing before the bishop. The prosecuting officer, Guillaume Capeillon, cunningly preferred certain charges of heresy against him, when he fell into the trap and boldly offered to purge himself before the bishop or any other ecclesiastical judge. He was taken at his word, and the 28th was fixed for his appearance before the bishop and the vice-inquisitor of Nantes, Jean Blouyn. †
* Bossard et Maulde, Pr. pp. i., ii., vi.-ix.
† Ibid. Pr. pp. iii.-iv., v.--Jean Chartier Hist. de Charles VII. ann. 1440 (Ed. Godefroy, p. 106).
The records are imperfect, and tell us nothing of what was done with the followers of Gilles, but we may be sure that during this interval the methods of the inquisitorial process were not spared to extract information from them, and that it was spread among the people to create public opinion, for already, by the 28th, some of the sorrowing parents who came forward to confirm their previous complaints assert that since La Meffraye had been in the secular prison they had been told that she said their children had been delivered to Gilles. At this hearing of the 28th only these ten witnesses were heard, with their vague conjectures as to the loss of their offspring. Gilles was not present, and apparently the result of the torture of his servants had not yet been satisfactory, for further proceedings were adjourned till October 8. *
In the succeeding hearings the rule of secrecy seems to have been abandoned. There evidently was extreme anxiety to create popular opinion against the prisoner, for the court-room in the Tour Neuve was crowded. On October 8 proceedings opened with the frantic cries of the bereaved parents clamoring for justice against him who had despoiled them and had committed a black catalogue of crimes, which shows that since their last appearance their ignorance had been carefully enlightened. Like the chorus of a Greek tragedy, the same dramatic use was made of them on the 11th, after which, as the object was presumably accomplished, they disappear. †
At the hearing of the 8th the articles of accusation were presented orally by the prosecutor. Gilles thereupon appealed from the court, but as his appeal was verbal it was promptly set aside, though no offer was made to him of counsel, or even of a notary to reduce it to writing. If anything could move us to commiseration for such a criminal it would be the mockery of justice in a trial where, alone and unaided, he was called upon to defend his life without preparation or the means of defence. He doubtless was guilty, but if he had been innocent the result would have been the same. Yet the trial was not carried on "simpliciter et de plano" according to the forms of the Inquisition. There was a semblance of a litis contestatio. The prosecutor took the juramentum de calumnia, to tell the truth and avoid deceit, and
* Bossard et Maulde, Pr. pp. vi.-ix.
† Ibid. pp. ix., xii.
demanded that Gilles should do the same, as prescribed by legal form, but the latter obstinately refused, though summoned four times and threatened with excommunication. The only notice he would take of the proceedings was to denounce all the charges as false. *
It was worse at the hearing of the 13th, when the accusations had been reduced to writing in a formidable series of forty-nine articles. When the bishop and inquisitor asked him what he had to say in defence, Gilles haughtily retorted that they were not his judges; he had appealed from them and would make no reply to the charges. Then, giving rein to his temper, he stigmatized them as simoniacs and scoundrels, before whom it was degradation for him to appear; he would rather be hanged by the neck than acknowledge them as his judges; he wondered that Pierre de l'Hôpital, president or chief judicial officer of Brittany, who was present, would allow ecclesiastics to meddle with such crimes as were allged against him. In spite of his reclamations the indictment was read, when he simply denounced it as a pack of lies and refused to answer formally. Then, after repeated warnings, the bishop and inquisitor pronounced him contumacious and excommunicated him. He again appealed, but the appeal was rejected as frivolous, and he was given forty-eight hours in which to frame a defence. †
The charges formed a long and most elaborate paper, showing by its detail of individual cases that by this time Gilles's servitors must have been induced to make full confessions. For the first time there appear in it the sacrilege and violation of clerical immunity committed at Saint-Étienne, and the charge of childmurder only figures as an accessory to the other crimes to which it was connected. Everything, however, that could be alleged against him was gathered together, even to inordinate eating and drinking, which were assumed to have led to his other excesses. His transient fits of repentance and vows of amendment were utilized ingeniously to prove that he was a relapsed heretic and thus deprived of all chance of escape. In the conclusion the prosecutor apportioned the charges between the two jurisdictions. The bishop and inquisitor conjointly were prayed to declare him
* Bossard et Maulde, Pr. pp. xi-xii.
† Ibid. Pr. pp. xiii.-xiv.
guilty of heretical apostasy and the invocation of demons, while the bishop alone was to pronounce sentence on his unnatural crimes and sacrilege, the Inquisition having no cognizance of these offences. It is worthy of note that there is no allusion to alchemy; apparently it was not regarded as an unlawful pursuit. *
It is not easy to understand what followed. When two days later, on the 15th, Gilles was brought into court he was a changed man. We have no means of knowing what influences had meanwhile been brought to bear upon him, but the only probable explanation would seem to be that he recognized from the details of the charges that his servants had been forced to betray him, that further resistance would only subject him to torture, and, in his earnest care for the salvation of his soul, that submission to the Church and endurance of the inevitable was the only path to heaven. Still, he could not at once summon resolution to incur the humiliation of a detailed public confession. While he humbly admitted the bishop and inquisitor to be his judges, and on bended knee, with tears and sighs, craved their pardon for the insults which he had showered upon them, and begged for absolution from the excommunication incurred by contumacy; while he took with the prosecutor the juramentum de calumnia; while in general terms he acknowledged that he had no objection to make to the charges and confessed. the crimes alleged against him, yet when he was required to answer to the articles seriatim he at once denied that he had invoked, or caused to be invoked, any malignant spirits; he had, it is true, dabbled in alchemy, but he freely offered himself to be burned if the witnesses to be produced, whose testimony he was willing to accept in advance, should prove that he had invoked demons or entered into pacts with them and offered them sacrifices. All the rest of the charges he specifically denied, but he invited the prosecutor to produce what witnesses he chose, and he (Gilles) would admit their evidence to be conclusive. Although in all this there is a contradiction which casts doubt upon the frankness of the official record, it may perhaps be explained by vacillation not improbable in his terrible position. He did not shrink, however, when his servants and agents, Henriet, Poitou, Prelati, Blanchet, and his two procuresses were brought forward and sworn in his
* Bossard et Maulde, Pr. pp. xvii.-xxx.
presence; he declined the offer of the bishop and inquisitor to frame the interrogatories for their examination, and he declared that he would stand to their depositions and make no exceptions to them or to their evidence. It was the same when, on the 15th and 19th, additional witnesses were sworn in his presence. The examinations of these witnesses, however, were made by notaries in private. The depositions made by Henriet and Poitou, which have been preserved to us, are hideous catalogues of the foulest crimes, minute in their specifications, though the identity between them in trifles, where omissions or discrepancies would be natural, strongly suggests manipulation either of witnesses or of records. That of Prelati is equally full in its details of necromancy, and raises at once the question, not easily answered, why the necromancer, who had richly earned the stake, seems to have escaped all punishment; and the same may be said as to Blanchet, La Meffraye and her colleague, and some others of those involved. It is worthy of note, that in these confessions or depositions the customary formula that they are made without fear, force, or favor is conspicuous by its absence. *
At the hearing of October 20 Gilles was again asked if he had. anything to propose, and he replied in the negative. He waived all delay as to the publication of the evidence against him, and when the depositions of his accomplices were read he said he had no exceptions to make to them; in fact, that the publication was unnecessary in view of what he had already said, and what he intended to confess. One would think that this was quite sufficient, for his guilt was thus proved and admitted, but the infernal curiosity of the jurisprudence of the time was never satisfied until it. had wrung from the accused a detailed and formal confession. The prosecutor, therefore, earnestly demanded of the bishop and inquisitor that Gilles should be tortured, in order, as he said, to develop the truth more fully. They consulted with the experts and decided that torture should be applied. †
The proud man had hoped to be spared the humiliation of a detailed confession, but this was not to be allowed. On the next
* Bossard et Maulde, Pr. pp. xxxii.-xxxvi., xxxvii.-xxxviii., lxiv.-lxxii., lxxiii.-lxxxi., lxxxii.-xcii., xciii.-ci.
† Ibid. Pr. pp. xli.-xlii.
day, October 21, the bishop and inquisitor ordered him to be brought in and tortured. Everything was in readiness for it, when he humbly begged them to defer it until the next day, and that meanwhile he would make up his mind so as to satisfy them and render it unnecessary. He further asked that they should commission the Bishop of Saint-Brieuc and Pierre de l'Hôpital to hear his confession in a place apart from the torture. This last prayer they granted, but they would only give him a respite until two o'clock, with the promise of a further postponement until the next day, in case he confessed meanwhile. When the confession made that afternoon, under these circumstances, is officially declared to have been made "freely and willingly and without coercion of any kind," it affords another example of the value of these customary formulas. *
Before the commissioners he made no difficulty of accusing himself of all the crimes wherewith he stood charged. Pierre de l'Hôpital found the recital hard of credence, and pressed him vigorously to disclose the motive which had led to their commission. He was not satisfied with Gilles's declaration that it was simply to gratify his passions, till he exclaimed, "Truly, there was no other cause, object, or intention than I have said. I have told you greater things than that--enough to put ten thousand men to death." The president pressed the matter no further, but sent for Prelati, when the two accomplices freely confirmed each other's statements, and they parted in tears with the affectionate farewell already alluded to. †
There was no further talk of torture. Gilles was now fairly embarked in his new course. Apparently resolved to win heaven by contrition and by the assistance of the Church, this extraordinary man presents, during the remainder of the trial, a spectacle which is probably without an example. When, on the next day, October 22, he was brought before his judges, the proud and haughty baron desired that his confession should be read in public, so that his humiliation should aid in winning pardon from God. Not content with this, he supplemented his confession with abundant details of his atrocities, as though seeking to make to God an acceptable oblation of his pride. Finally, after exhorting those
* Bossard et Maulde, Pr. pp. xliii.-xlv.
† Ibid. Pr. pp. xlv.-xivii.
present to honor and obey the. Church, he begged with abundant tears their prayers, and entreated pardon of the parents whose children he had murdered. *
On the 25th he was brought up for sentence. After the bishop and inquisitor had duly consulted their assembly of experts, two sentences were read. The first, in the name of both judges, condemned him as guilty of heretical apostasy and horrid invocation of demons, for which he had incurred excommunication and other penalties of the law, and for which he should be punished according to the canonical sanctions. The second sentence, rendered by the bishop alone, in the same form, condemned him for unnatural crime, for sacrilege, and for violating the immunities of the Church. In neither sentence was there any punishment indicated. He was not pronounced relapsed, and therefore could not be abandoned to the secular arm, and it was apparently deemed superfluous to enjoin on him any penance, as a prosecution had been going on pari passu in the secular court, of which the result was not in doubt. The ecclesiastical court had dropped the accusation of murder, after it had served its purpose in exciting popular odium, and had left it to the civil authorities to which it belonged. In fact, the whole elaborate proceedings were a nullity, except so far as they served as a shield for the civil process, and as a basis for confiscating his estates. †
After the reading of the sentences he was asked if he wished reincorporation in the Church. He replied that he had not known what heresy was, nor that he had lapsed into it, but as the Church had declared him guilty, he begged on his knees, with sighs and groans, to be reincorporated. When this ceremony was accomplished he asked for absolution, which was granted. It shows the deceptive nature of the whole proceedings, and how little the bishop and inquisitor thought of anything but the secret object to be attained, that although Gilles was condemned for heresy, he was absolved without subjection to the indispensable ceremony of abjuration, and his request for a confessor was promptly met by the appointment of Jean Juvenal, a Carmelite of Ploermel. ‡
* Bossard et Maulde, Pr. pp. xlviii.-lviii.
† Ibid. Pr. pp. lxiii.-lxiv,
‡ Bossard et Maulde, Pr. pp. lx.-lxi.
From the Tour Neuve, where the ecclesiastical court held its sittings, Gilles was at once hurried before the secular tribunal in the Bouffay. It had commenced its inquest on September 18, and had been busily employed in collecting evidence concerning the childmurders, besides which, its presiding judge, Pierre de l'Hôpital, had been present at much of the ecclesiastical trial, and had personally received Gilles's confession. It was thus fully prepared to act, and indeed had already condemned Henriet and Poitou to be hanged and burned. When Gilles was brought in and arraigned he immediately confessed. Pierre urged him to confess in full, and thus obtain alleviation of the penalty due to his sins, and he freely complied. Then the president took the opinions of his assessors, who all voted in favor of death, although there was some difference as to the form. Finally Pierre announced that he had incurred the "peines pecunielles," which were to be levied on his goods and lands "with moderation of justice." As for his crimes, for these he was to be hanged and burned, and that he might have opportunity to crave mercy of God, the time was fixed for one o'clock the next day. Gilles thanked him for the designation of the hour, adding that as he and his servants, Henriet and Poitou, had committed the crimes together, he asked that they might be executed together, so that he who was the cause of their guilt might admonish them, and show them the example of a good death, and by the grace of our Lord be the cause of their salvation. If, he said, they did not see him die they might think that he escaped, and thus be cast into despair. Not only was this request granted, but he was told that he might select the place of his burial, when he chose the Carmelite church, the sepulchre of the dukes, and of all that was most illustrious in Brittany. As a last prayer, be begged that the bishop and clergy might be requested to walk in procession prior to his execution the next day, to pray God to keep him and his servants in firm belief of salvation. This was granted, and the morning saw the extraordinary spectacle of the clergy, followed by the whole population of Nantes, who had been clamoring for his death, marching through the streets and singing and praying for his salvation. *
On the way to execution Gilles devoted himself to comforting
* Bossard et Maulde, p., 333; Pr. pp. cxli.-cxliv.
the servants whom he had brought to a shameful death, assuring them that as soon as their souls should leave their bodies they would all meet in paradise. The men were as contrite and as sure of salvation as their master, declaring that they welcomed death in their unbounded trust in God. They were all mounted on stands over piles of wood, with halters around their necks attached to the gallows. The stands were pushed aside, and as they swung the fagots were lighted. Henriet and Poitou were allowed to burn to ashes, but when Gilles's halter was burned through and his body fell, the ladies of his kindred rushed forward and plucked it from the flames. It was honored with a magnificent funeral, and it is said that some of the bones were kept by his family as relics of his repentance. *
Under the Breton laws execution for crime entailed confiscation of movables to the seigneur justicier, but not of the landed estates. Condemnation for heresy, as we have seen, everywhere carried with it indiscriminate confiscation and inflicted disabilities for two generations. Gilles was convicted as a heretic, but the secular sentence is obscure on the subject of confiscation, and in the intricate and prolonged litigation which arose over his inheritance it is difficult to determine to what extent confiscation was enforced. Some twenty years later the "Mémoire des Héritiers" argues that death had expiated his crimes and removed all cause of confiscation, which would seem to indicate that it had taken place. Certain it is that, to assist the Duke of Brittany, René of Anjou in 1450 confiscated Champtocé and Ingrandes, which were under his jurisdiction, and ceded them to the duke to confirm his title. Charles VII., on the other side, had already decreed confiscation in order to help the heirs. †
No disabilities were inflicted upon the descendants, and the house was still regarded as eligible to the noblest alliances. After a year of widowhood, Catharine de Thouars married Jean de Vendôme, Vidame of Chartres, and in 1442 Gilles's daughter, Marie, espoused Prégent de Coétivy, Admiral of France and one of the most powerful men in the royal court. He must have considered the match most desirable, for he submitted to hard conditions in
* Bossard et Maulde, pp. 337-41.
† Très-Anc. Cout. de Bretagne c. 118 ( Bourdot de Richebourg, IV. 228).-Bossard et Maulde, pp. 357, 377.
the marriage contract. He resolutely set to work to recover the alienated or confiscated lands, and succeeded in gaining possession of some of the finest estates, including Champtocé and Ingrandes, though his death at the siege of Cherbourg, in 1450, prevented his enjoying them. Marie not long after was remarried with André de Laval, Marshal and Admiral of France, who caused her rights to be respected, but on her death without issue in 1457 the inheritance passed to Gilles's brother, René de la Suze. The interminable litigation revived and continued until after his death in 1474. He left but one daughter, who had been married to the Prince de Déols in 1446; they bad but one son, André de Chauvigny, who died without issue in 1502, when the race became extinct. The barony of Rais lapsed into the house of Tournemine, and at length passed into that of Gondy, to become celebrated in the seventeenth century through the Cardinal de Retz. *
Admitting as we must the guilt of Gilles de Rais, all this throws an uncomfortable doubt over the sincerity of his trial and conviction, and this is not lessened by the fate of his accomplices. Only Henriet and Poitou appear to have suffered; there is no trace of the death-penalty inflicted on any of the rest, though their criminality was sufficient for the most condign punishment, and the facility with which self-incriminating evidence was obtainable by the use of torture rendered unknown the device of purchasing testimony with pardon. Gilles de Sillé, who was regarded as the worst of the marshal's instigators, disappeared and was heard of no more. Next to him ranked Roger de Briqueville. It is somewhat mysterious that the family seem to have regarded this man with favor. Marie de Rais cherished his children with tender care. In 1446 he obtained from Charles VII. letters of remission rehabilitating him, which he certainly could not have procured had not Prégent de Coétivy favored him, and the latter, in a letter to his brother Oliver, in 1449, desires to be remembered to Roger. †
If the student feels that there is an impenetrable mystery shrouding the truth in this remarkable case, the Breton peasant was troubled with no such doubts. To him Gilles remained the embodiment of cruelty and ferocity. I am not sufficiently versed in folk-lore to express an opinion whether M. Bossard is correct in
* Bossard et Maulde, pp. 370-82.
† Ibid. pp. 380 ; Pr. pp. cxlv.-cxlvi.
maintaining that Gilles is the original of Bluebeard, the monster of the nursery-tale rendered universally popular in the version of Charles Perrault. Yet, even without admitting that the story is of Breton origin, there would seem to be no doubt that in Brittany, La Vendée, Anjou, and Poitou, where the terrible baron had his chosen seats of residence, he is known by the name of Bluebeard, and the legend--possibly an older one--of cruelty to seven wives, has been attached to him who had but one, and who left that one a widow. Tradition relates how the demon changed to a brilliant blue the magnificent red beard that was his pride; and everywhere, at Tiffauges, at Champtocé, at Machecoul, for the peasant, Bluebeard is the lord of the castle where Gilles ruled over their forefathers. Even yet, when the dreaded ruins are approached at dusk, the wayfarer crosses himself and holds his breath. In one ballad the name of Bluebeard and of the Baron de Rais are interchanged as identical, and Jean de Malestroit, Bishop of Nantes, is the champion who delivers the terrorized people from their oppressor. *
Another phase of the popular belief in magic is illustrated in Don Enrique de Aragon, commonly known as the Marquis of Villena. Born in 1384, uniting the royal blood of both Castile and Aragon, his grandfather, the Duke of Gandia and Constable of Castile, destined him for a military life, and forbade his instruction in aught but knightly accomplishments. The child's keen thirst for knowledge, however, overcame all obstacles, and he became a marvel of learning for his unlettered companions. He spoke numerous languages, he was gifted as a poet, and he became a voluminous historian. The occult arts formed too prominent a portion of the learning of the day for him to neglect them, and he became noted for his skill in divination, and for interpreting dreams, sneezes, and portents--things, we are told, not befitting a royal prince or a good Catholic, wherefore he was held in slight esteem by the kings of his time, and in little reverence by the fierce chivalry of Spain. In fact, he is spoken of in terms of undisguised contempt, as one who with all his acquirements knew little that was worth knowing, and who was unfit for knighthood and for worldly affairs, even for regulating his own household; that he
* Bossard et Maulde, pp. 406, 408, 412.
was short and fat, and unduly fond of women and of eating. His astrological learning was ridiculed in the saying that he knew much of heaven and little of earth. He left his wife and gave up his earldom of Tineo in order to obtain the mastership of the Order of Calatrava, but the king soon deprived him of it, and thus, in the words of the chronicler, he lost both. After his death, at the age of fifty, in 1434, the King Juan II. ordered all his books to be examined by Fray Lope de Barrientos, afterwards Bishop of Cuenca, a professor of Salamanca and tutor of the Infante Enrique. A portion of them Fray Lope burned publicly on the plaza of the Dominican convent of Madrid, where the marquis lay buried. He kept the rest--probably to aid him in the books on the occult sciences which he wrote at command of the king.
Don Enrique evidently was a man of culture despised by a barbarous age which could see in his varied accomplishments only the magic skill so suggestive to the popular imagination. He was no vulgar magician. In his commentary on the Æneid he speaks of magic as a forbidden science, of whose forty different varieties he gives a curious classification. The only one of his writings that has reached us on a topic of the kind is a treatise on the evil eye. In common with his age he regards this as an admitted fact, but he attributes it to natural causes; and in the long and learned catalogue of remedies employed by different races from ancient times, he counsels abstinence from those which savor of superstition and are forbidden by the Church. Had he seriously devoted himself to the occult sciences he would scarce have written his "Art of Carving," which was printed in 1766. In this work he not only gives the most minute directions for carving all manner of flesh, fowls, fish, and fruits, but gravely proposes that there shall be a school for training youth of gentle blood in this indispensable accomplishment, with privileges and honors to reward the most efficient graduates.
Yet of this unworldly scholar, neglected and despised during life, popular exaggeration speedily made a magician of wondrous power. His legend grew until there was nothing too wild to be attributed to him. He caused himself to be cut up and packed in a flask with certain conjurations, so as to become immortal; he rendered himself invisible with the herb Andromeda; he turned the sun blood-red with the stone heliotrope; he brought rain and
tempest with a copper vessel; he divined the future with the stone chelonites; he gave his shadow to the devil in the cave of San Cebrian. Every feat of magic was attributed to him; he became the inexhaustible theme of playwright and story-teller, and to the present day he is the favorite magician of the Spanish stage. From this example it is easy to trace the evolution of the myths of Michael Scot, Roger Bacon, Albertus Magnus, Pietro d' Abano, Dr. Faustus, and other popular necromantic heroes. *
* La Puente Epit. de la Chronica del Rey don Juan II. Lib. III. c. 23; Lib. V. c. 27 ( Fernan Perez de Guzman).-- Monteiro, Hist. da Santa Inquisição, P. I. Lib. II. c. 40.-- Paramo, p. 131.-- La Fuente, Hist. Gen. de España, IX. 60.-- Pelayo, Heterodoxos Españoles I. 582, 608-11.-- Amador de los Rios, Revista de España, T. XVIII. pp. 15-16.
WHILE, as we have seen, princes and warriors were toying with the dangerous mysteries of the occult sciences, influencing the destinies of states, there had been for half a century a gradually increasing development of sorcery in a different direction among the despised peasantry, which, before it ran its course, worked far greater evils than any which had thus far sprung from the same source, and left an ineffaceable stain upon the civilization and intelligence of Europe. There is no very precise line of demarcation to be drawn between the more pretentious magic and the vulgar details of witchcraft; they find their origin in the same beliefs and fade into each other by imperceptible gradations, and yet, historically speaking, the witchcraft with which we now have to deal is a manifestation of which the commencement cannot be distinctly traced backward much beyond the fifteenth century. Its practitioners were not learned clerks or shrewd swindlers, but ignorant peasants, for the most part women, who professed to have skill to help or to ban, or who were credited by their neighbors with such power, and were feared and hated accordingly. Of such we hear little during the darkest portion of the Middle Ages, but with the dawn of modern culture they confront us as a strange phenomenon, of which the proximate cause is exceedingly obscure. Probably it may be traced to the effort of the theologians to prove that all superstitious practices were heretical in implying a tacit pact with Satan, as declared by the University of Paris. Thus the innocent devices of the wise-women in culling simples, or in muttering charms, came to be regarded as implying demon-worship. When this conception once came to be firmly implanted in the minds of judges and inquisitors, it was inevitable that with the rack they should extort from their victims confessions in accordance with their expectations. Every new trial would add fresh embellishments to this, until at last there was built up a stupendous mass of facts which demonologists endeavored to reduce to a science for the guidance of the tribunals.
That such was the origin of the new witchcraft is rendered still more probable by the fact that its distinguishing feature was the worship of Satan in the Sabbat, or assemblage, held mostly at night, to which men and women were transported through the air, either spontaneously or astride of a stick or stool, or mounted on a demon in the shape of a goat, a dog, or some other animal, and where hellish rites were celebrated and indiscriminate license prevailed. Divested of the devil-worship now first introduced, such assemblages have formed part of the belief of all races. In Hindu superstition the witches, through the use of mystic spells, flew naked through the night to the places of meeting, where they danced, or to a cemetery, where they gorged themselves with human flesh or revived the dead to satiate their lust. The Hebrew witch flew to the Sabbat with her hair loosened, as when it was bound she was unable to exercise her full power. Among the Norsemen we have seen the trolla-thing, or assemblage of witches, for their unholy purposes. * In the Middle Ages the first allusion which we meet concerning it occurs in a fragment, not later than the ninth century, in which it is treated as a diabolical illusion-"Some wicked women, reverting to Satan, and seduced by the illusions and phantasms of demons, believe and profess that they ride at night with Diana on certain beasts, with an innumerable multitude of women, passing over immense distances, obeying her commands as their mistress, and evoked by her on certain nights. It were well if they alone perished in their infidelity and did not draw so many along with them. For innumerable multitudes, deceived by this false opinion, believe all this to be true, and thus relapse into pagan errors. Therefore, priests everywhere should preach that they know this to be false, and that such phantasms are sent by the Evil Spirit, who deludes them in dreams. Who is there who is not led out of himself in dreams, seeing much in sleeping that he never saw waking? And who is such a fool that he believes that to happen in the body which is only done in the
* Weber, Indische Skizzen, p. 112.-- Wagenseilii Comment. ad Mishua, Sootah, I. 5.-- Grimm Teuton. Mythol. III. 1044.
spirit? It is to be taught to all that he who believes such things has lost his faith, and he who has not the true faith is not of God, but the devil." In some way this utterance came to be attributed to a Council of Anquira, which could never be identified; it was adopted by the canonists and embodied in the successive collections of Regino, Burchard, Ivo, and Gratian--the latter giving it the stamp of unquestioned authority--and it became known among the doctors as the Cap. Episcopi. The selection of Diana as the presiding genius of these illusory assemblages carries the belief back to classical times, when Diana, as the moon, was naturally a night-flyer, and was one of the manifestations of the triform Hecate, the favorite patroness of sorcerers. Under the Barbarians, however, her functions were changed. In the sixth century we hear of "the demon whom the peasants call Dian," who vexed a girl and inflicted on her visible stripes, until expelled by St. Cæsarius of Arles. Diana was the dæmonium meridianum, and the name is used by John XXII. as synonymous with succubus. In some inexplicable way Bishop Burchard, in the eleventh century, when copying the text, came to add to Diana Herodias, who remained in the subsequent recensions, but Burchard in another passage substitutes as the leader Holda, the Teutonic deity of various aspect, sometimes beneficent to housewives and sometimes a member of Wuotan's Furious Host. In a tract attributed to St. Augustin, but probably ascribable to Hugues de S. Victor, in the twelfth century, the companion of Diana is Minerva, and in some conciliar canons of a later date there appears another being known as Benzozia, or Bizazia; but John of Salisbury, who alludes to the belief as an illustration of the illusions of dreams, speaks only of Herodias as presiding over the feasts for which these midnight assemblages were held. We also meet with Holda, in her beneficent capacity as the mistress of the revels, under the name of the Domina Abundia or Dame Habonde. She was the chief of the dominæ nocturnæ, who frequented houses at night and were thought to bring abundance of temporal goods. In the year 1211 Gervais of Tilbury shows the growth of this belief in his account of the lamiæ or mascæ, who flew by night and entered houses, performing mischievous pranks rather than malignant crimes, and he prudently avoids deciding whether this is an illusion or not. He also had personal knowledge of women who flew by night in crowds with these lamiæ, when any one who incautiously pronounced the name of Christ was precipitated to the earth. Half a century later Jean de Meung tells us that those who ride with Dame Habonde claim that they number a third of the population, and when the Inquisition undertook the suppression of sorcery, in its formula of interrogatories, as we have seen in the preceding chapter, there was a question as to the night-riding of the good women. *
Thus the Church, in its efforts to suppress these relics of pagandom, preferred to regard the nocturnal assemblages as a fiction, and denounced as heretical the belief in the reality of the delusion. This, as part of the canon law, remained unalterable, but alongside of it grew up, with the development of heresy, tales of secret conventicles, somewhat similar in character, in which the sectaries worshipped the demon in the form of a cat or other beast, and celebrated their impious and impure rites. Stories such as this are told of the Cathari punished at Orleans in 1017, and of their successors in later times; and the Universal Doctor, Alain de Lille, even derives the name of Cathari from their kissing Lucifer under
* Frag. Capitular. c. 13 (Baluz. II. 365). -- Reginon. de Eccles. Discip. II. 364.-- Burchard. Decret. XI. 1, XIX. 5.-- Ivon. Decret. XI. 30.-- Gratian. Decret. II. XXVII. v. 12.--Servius in Virgil. Æneid. IV. 511, VI. 118.-- Vit. S. Cæsar. Arelat. Lib. II. c. 2. -- Raynald. ann. 1317, No. 53. -- Grimm Teut. Mythol. I. 268 sqq.-- Finn Magnusen Boreal. Mythol. Lexicon, pp. 7,71, 567.-- Lib. de Spiritu et Anima c. 28.-- Augerii Cenomanens. Statut. ( Du Cange s. v. Diana).--Conc. Trevirens. ann. 1310 c. 81 ( Martene Thesaur. IV. 257).-- Cone. Ambianens. cap. iii. No. 8 ( Martene Ampl. Coll. VII. 1241).-- Johann. Saresberiens. Polycrat. II. xvii.-- Grimm Teut. Mythol, III. 1055-7.-- Wright Dame Kyteler, pp. iv., xxxvi.-- Gervas. Tilberiens. Otia Imp. Decis. III. c. 86, 93.
--Jean de Meung says--
"Maintes gens par lor folie Li tiers enfant de nacion Cuident estre par nuict estrées Sunt de ceste condicion." Errant avecques Dame Habonde; ( Roman de la Rose, 18624.--Wright, Et dient que par tout le monde loc. cit.).
A story in Jac. de Voragine's life of St. Germain l'Auxerrois illustrates the genesis of the belief concerning the Dame Habonde and her troop, who assisted in household work. On visiting a certain house St. Germain found that the supper-table was set by "the good women who walk by night." He remained up and saw a crowd of demons, in the shape of men and women, who came to set it; he commanded them to stay, and woke the family, who recognized in the intruders their neighbors, but the latter, on investigation, were found in their beds, and the demons confessed that the likenesses were assumed for the purpose of deception.--Jac. de Vorag. s. v. S. Germanus.
the tail in the shape of a cat. * How the investigators of heresy came to look for such assemblages as a matter of course, and led the accused to embellish them until they assumed nearly the development of the subsequent Witches' Sabbat, is seen in the confessions of Conrad of Marburg's Luciferans, and in some of those of the Templars.
Yet the belief in the night-riders with Diana and Herodias continued, until the latter part of the fifteenth century, to be denounced as a heresy, and any one who persisted in retaining it after learning the truth was declared to be an infidel and worse than a pagan. † It was too thoroughly implanted, however, in ancestral popular superstition to be eradicated. In the middle of the thirteenth century the orthodox Dominican, Thomas of Cantimpré, speaks of the demons who, like Diana, transport men from one region to another and delude them into worshipping mortals as gods. Others, he says, carry away women, replacing them with insensible images, who are sometimes buried as though dead. Thus, when the peasant wise-women came to be examined as to their dealings with Satan, they could hardly help, under intolerable torture, from satisfying their examiners with accounts of their nocturnal flights. Between judge and victim it was easy to build up a coherent story, combining the ancient popular belief with the heretical conventicles, and the time soon came when the confession of a witch was regarded as incomplete without an account of her attendance at the Sabbat, which was the final test of her abandonment to Satan. These stories became so universal and so complete in all their details that they could not be rejected without discrediting the whole structure of witchcraft. The theory of illusion was manifestly untenable, and demonologists and inquisitors were sadly at a loss to reconcile the incontrovertible facts with the denunciations by the Church of such beliefs as heresy. A warm controversy arose. Some held to the old doctrine that the
* Pauli Carnot. Vet. Agano. Lib. VI. c. 3.-- Adhemari Cabannens. ann. 1022. -- Gualteri Mapes de Nugis Curialium Dist. I. c. 30.-- Alani de Insulis contra Hæret. Lib. I. c. 63.
† Concil. Trevirens. ann. 1310 c. 81 ( Martene Thes. IV. 257). -- Concil. Ambianens. c. 1410 cap. iii. No. 8 ( Martene Ampl. Coll. VII. 1241).-- Eymeric. p. 341.-- Alonso de Spina, Fortalic. Fidei, fol. 284.-- Albertini Repertor. Inquisit. s. v. Xorguinæ.
devil cannot transport a human body or make it pass through a disproportionate opening, but they endeavored to explain the admitted facts by enlarging on his powers of creating illusions. The witch consecrated herself to him with words and with anointing, when he would take her figure or phantasm and lead it where she wished, while her body remained insensible and covered with a diabolical shadow, rendering it invisible; when the object had been accomplished, he brought back the phantasm, reunited it to the body, and removed the shadow. The question turned upon the ability of the devil to carry off human beings, and this was hotly debated. A case adduced by Albertus Magnus, in a disputation on the subject before the Bishop of Paris, and recorded by Thomas of Cantimpré, in which the daughter of the Count of Schwalenberg was regularly carried away every night for several hours, gave immense satisfaction to the adherents of the new doctrine, and eventually an ample store of more modern instances was accumulated to confirm Satan in his enlarged privileges. *
In 1458 the Inquisitor Nicholas Jaquerius hit upon the true solution of the difficulty by arguing that the existing sect of witches was wholly different from the heretics alluded to in the Cap. Episcopi, and adduced in evidence of their bodily presence in the Sabbat numberless cases which had come before him in his official capacity, including one of a man who, as a child, fifty-five years before, had been carried thither by his mother in company with an infant brother, and presented to Satan wearing the form of a goat, who with his hoofs had imprinted on them an indelible mark--the stigma diabolicum. Jaquerius, however, adds, reasonably enough, that even if the affair is an illusion, it is none the less heretical, as the followers of Diana and Herodias are necessarily
* Thom. Cantimprat. Bonum universal. Lib. II. c. 56.-- Alonso de Spina, Fortalic. Fidei, fol. 284.-- Bern. Basin do Artibus Magicis.-- Ulric. Molitor. de Python. Mulierib. Conclus. IV.-- Th. Cantimprat. ubi sup.--Mall. Maleficar. P. ii. Q. i. c. 3.-- Prieriat. de Strigimag. Lib. i. c. xiv., Lib. ii. c. 1.
Friar Thomas gives circumstantial contemporary instances occurring in Flanders, where women were carried away and their images were on the point of burial, when the deception was accidentally discovered, and the images, on being cut open, were found to consist of rotten wood covered with skin. He admits his inability to explain these cases, and says that on consulting Albertus Magnus about them the latter evaded a positive answer (Bonum universale, ubi sup.).
heretics in their waking hours. These speculations of Jaquerius attracted little attention at the time. Thirty years later, Sprenger, who did so much to formulate belief and organize persecution, found the Cap. Episcopi a constant stumbling-block in his path, as sceptics were apt to argue that, if the Sabbat was an illusion, all witchcraft was illusory. He endeavored, therefore, to argue it away, assuming that, while the devil undoubtedly possessed the power of transportation, the presence of the witch frequently was only mental. In such case she lay down on the left side and invoked the devil, when a whitish vapor would issue from her mouth, and she saw all that occurred. If she went personally, and had a husband, an accommodating demon would assume her shape and take her place to conceal her absence. Gianfrancesco Pico della Mirandola takes the same ground, that presence at the Sabbat was sometimes real and sometimes imaginary; the place of assemblage was beyond the river Jordan, and transportation thither took place instantaneously. He avoids the definition of the Cap. Episcopi by assuming that the Decretum of Gratian had not the authority of law, and was corrupt in many places. The Inquisitor Bernardo di Como, about 1500, in addition to these arguments, had triumphantly adduced the fact that numerous persons had been burned for attending the Sabbat, which could not have been done without the assent of the pope, and this was sufficient proof that the heresy was real, for the Church punishes only manifest crimes. *
About this time the learned jurist, Gianfrancesco Ponzinibio, wrote a tract on the subject of witchcraft in which he upheld the doctrine of the Cap. Episcopi and boldly applied it to all magic and sorcery, which he treated as delusions. With a vast array of authorities he proved his case; he exposed the baldness of the pretence that existing witches belonged to a different sect; he argued that their confessions are not to be received, as they confess what is illusory and impossible, and that their evidence as to their associates is to be rejected, as they are deluded and can only delude others. Lawyers, be added, ought to take part in trials before the Inquisition, as they are trained to deal with criminal
* Fr. Nich. Jaquerii Flagellum Hæret. Fascinar. c. vii., xxviii.-- Mall. Malef. P. I. Q. i. c. 10; P. II. Q. i. c. 3, 9.--G. F. Pico della Mirandola, La Strega, Milano, 1864, pp. 61, 73.-- Bernardi Comensis de Strigiis c. 3-6.
cases. This aroused the learned theologian, Silvestro Mozzolino of Prierio, Master of the Sacred Palace and subsequently Dominican General, who, in 1521, responded in a voluminous treatise devoted to the disputed canon. As the utterance of the Council of Anquira, presumably confirmed by the Holy See, he does not dare to deny its authority, but he adopts the same reasoning as Jaquerius, and laboriously argues that the heretics to whom it refers had disappeared, that the existing witches are a new sect, originating in 1404, and that the definitions of the canon are, therefore, obsolete and inapplicable to existing circumstances. To deny the bodily presence of witches at the Sabbat, he says, is to discredit the infinite number of cases tried by the Inquisition, and consequently to discredit the laws themselves. * He was followed by his successor in the mastership of the Sacred Palace, Bartolomeo de Spina, who devoted three tracts to the annihilation of Ponzinibio. The latter had suggested, logically enough, though maliciously, that as the Cap. Episcopi had defined as a heres the belief that witches are corporally carried to the Sabbat, inquisitors in administering abjuration to their penitents ought to make them abjure this heresy among others. The absurd position in which this placed the Inquisition aroused Spina's indignation to the utmost. "O wonderful presumption! O detestable insanity!" he exclaimed. "Only heretics abjure, only heresies are abjured before inquisitors. Is then that belief a heresy which inquisitors defend, and according to which they judge the enemies of the faith to be worthy of extreme damnation?--that opinion which illustrious theologians and canonists prove to be true and catholic? O the extreme stolidity of the man! Must, then, all theologians and judges, the inquisitors themselves, of all Italy, France, Germany, and Spain, holding this opinion abjure before the Inquisition?"--and he concludes by calling upon the Inquisition to proceed against Ponzinibio as vehemently suspect of heresy, as a fautor and defender of heretics, and
* Ponzinib. de Lamiis c. 49, 50, 52-3, 61-3, 65-6.-- Prieriat. de Strigimagar. Lib. II. c. 1.
Paramo ( De Orig. Offic. S. Inq. p. 296) also adopts the date of 1404 as that of the origin of the sect of witches. This is probably founded on confusing Innocent VIII., who commenced to reign in 1484, with Innocent VII., who began in 1404. In the former?s bull-Summis desiderantes, dated in his first regnal year, he speaks of witches as a new sect, and Prierias refers this to 1404.
as an impeder of the Holy Office.
* This sufficiently shows that the new beliefs had completely conquered the old. The question had passed beyond the range of reason and argument, and everywhere throughout Europe the Witches' Sabbat was accepted as an established fact, which it was dangerous to dispute. Jurists and canonists might amuse themselves with debating it theoretically; practically it had become the veriest commonplace of the courts, both secular and ecclesiastical.
That the details of the Sabbat varied but little throughout Europe is doubtless to be ascribed to the leading questions habitually put by judges, and to the desire of the tortured culprits to satisfy their examiners, yet this consentaneity at the time was an irrefragable proof of truth. The first step of the witch was to secure a consecrated wafer by pretending to receive communion, and carrying the sacrament home. On this was fed a toad, which was then burned, and the ashes were mixed with the blood of an infant, unbaptized if possible, powdered bone of a man who had been hanged, and certain herbs. With this mixture the witch anointed the palms of her hands, or her wrist, and a stick or stool which she placed between her legs, and she was at once transported to the place of meeting. As a variant of this the ride was sometimes made on a demon in the shape of a horse, or goat, or dog. The assembly might be held anywhere, but there were certain spots specially resorted to -- in Germany the Brocken, in Italy an oak-tree near Benevento, and there was, besides, the unknown place beyond the Jordan. At all these they gathered in thousands. Thursday night was the one generally selected. They feasted at tables loaded with meat and wine which rose from the earth at the command of the presiding demon, and they paid homage to the devil, who was present, usually in the form of a goat, dog, or ape. To him they offered themselves, body and soul, and kissed him under the tail, holding a lighted candle. They trampled and spat upon the cross and turned up their backs to heaven in derision of God. The devil preached to them, sometimes commencing with a parody of the mass; he told them that they had no souls and that there was no future life; they were not to go to church or confession, or to use holy water, or, if they did so to
* Ponzinib. de Lamiis c. 65.-- Bart. Spinei de Strigibus, p. 175, Romæ, 1575.
avoid suspicion, they must say "By leave of our Master," and they were to bring him as many converts as they could, and work all possible evil to their neighbors. There was usually a dance, which was unlike any seen at honest gatherings. At Como and Brescia a number of children from eight to twelve years of age, who had frequented the Sabbat, and had been reconverted by the inquisitors, gave exhibitions in which their skill showed that they had not been taught by human art. The woman was held behind her partner and they danced backwards, and when they paid reverence to the presiding demon they bent themselves backwards, lifting a foot in the air forwards. The rites ended with indiscriminate intercourse, obliging demons serving as incubi or succubi as required. The reality of all this did not depend alone upon the confessions of the accused, for there was a well-known case occurring about the year 1450, when the Inquisitor of Como, Bartolomeo de Homate, the podestà Lorenzo da Coneorezzo, and the notary Giovanni da Fossato, either out of curiosity or because they doubted the witches whom they were trying, went to a place of assembly at Mendrisio and witnessed the scene from a hiding-place. The presiding demon pretended not to know their presence, and in due course dismissed the assembly, but suddenly recalled his followers and set them on the officials, who were so beaten that they died within fifteen days. *
All this was, of course, well fitted to excite the horror of the faithful and stimulate the zeal of the inquisitor, but it was only the pastime of the witch, and the reward given to her by her master for her labors and her allegiance. Her serious occupation was in works of evil. She was abandoned, body and soul, to Satan, and was the instrument which he used to effect his malignant purposes. The demonologists argued that the witch was as necessary to the demon as the demon to the witch, and that neither could operate without the other. She was not like the magicians and sorcerers, who merely earned their livelihood by selling their services, sometimes for good purposes and sometimes for bad, but she was a being wholly evil, delighting in the exercise of her powers
* Mémoires de Jacques du Clereq, Liv. IV. ch. 4.--Chron. Cornel. Zantfliet ann. 1460 (Martene Ampl. Coll. V. 502).--
Bernardi Comensis de Striaiis c. 3.-Prieriat. de Strigimag. Lib. I. c. 2, 14; Lib. II. c. 1, 4.
for the destruction of her neighbors, and constantly exhorted to activity by her master. Those powers, moreover, were sufficient to justify the terror in which she was held by the people. Sprenger divides witches into three classes, those who can injure and not cure, those who can cure and not injure, and those who can do both, and the worst are those who unite these faculties, for the more they insult and offend God, the greater power of evil he gives them. They kill and eat children, or devote them to the devil if unbaptized. They cause abortion by merely laying a hand upon a woman, or dry up her milk if she is nursing. By twirling a moistened broom or casting flints behind them towards the east, or boiling hogs' bristles in a pot, or stirring a pool with a finger, they raise tempests and hail - storms which devastate whole regions; they bring the plagues of locusts and caterpillars which devour the harvests; they render men impotent and women barren, and cause horses to become suddenly mad under their riders. They can make hidden things known and predict the future, bring about love or hatred at will, cause mortal sickness, slay men with lightning, or even with their looks alone, or turn them into beasts. We have the unquestioned authority of Eugenius IV. that by a simple word or touch or sign they can bewitch whom they please, cause or cure sickness, and regulate the weather. Sometimes they scattered over the fields powders which destroyed the cattle. They constantly entered houses at night, and, sprinkling a powder on the pillows of the parents which rendered them insensible, would touch the children with fingers smeared with a poisonous unguent causing death in a few days; or they would thrust needles under the nails of an infant and suck the blood, which was partly swallowed and partly spit into a vessel to serve in the confection of their infernal ointments; or the child would be put upon the fire and its fat be collected for the same purpose. Witches, moreover, could transform themselves into cats and other beasts, and Bernardo di Como gravely cites the case of the companions of Ulysses, as adduced by St. Augustin, to prove the reality of such illusions. Ludicrous as all this may seem, every one of these details has served as the basis of charges under which countless human beings have perished in the flames. *
* Mall. Maleficar. P. II. Q. i. c. 2, 4, 11, 15; Q. ii. c. 4.--Prieriat. de Strigimag.
One very peculiar power ascribed to witches was that of banqueting in the Sabbat on infants and cattle, and then restoring them to life. We have seen the belief in early times, and among races far apart, that sorceresses could gnaw and eat men internally, which probably arose from painful gastric maladies ascribed to sorcery. In the genesis of the Sabbat this took the shape, as described by Bishop Burchard in the eleventh century, that in the nocturnal meetings under the guidance of Holda men would be slain without weapons, their flesh cooked and eaten, and then they would be brought to life again, with straw or a piece of wood substituted for their hearts. The Church was not as yet ready to accept these marvels, and Burchard penances belief in them with fasting on bread and water for seven Lents. In the next century John of Salisbury ascribes to the illusion of dreams the popular superstition that lamiæ tore children to pieces, devoured them, and returned them to their cradles; and about 1240 Guillaume d'Auvergne speaks of the superstition spread by old women of the "ladies of the night" or "good women" who appear to tear children to pieces, or to cook them on the fire. Of course this formed part of the perfected stories of the Sabbat. In some witch-trials in the Tyrol, in 1506, there are frequent allusions to children and domestic animals carried to the feast and devoured, and though they remained alive, they were doomed to die soon afterwards. The witches of the Canavese confessed that their practice was to select fat cattle from a neighboring farmer, slaughter and eat them, and then, collecting the bones and hides, resuscitate them with the simple formula "Sorge, Ranzola." In one case a farmer of Levone, named Perino Pasquale, killed a sick ox and skinned it, and, naturally enough, himself died within a week, as well as his dog, which lapped some of the blood; and the occurrence, according to custom, was subsequently explained by a witch on trial, who confessed that the ox was one which had thus been eaten and
Lib. II. c. 7, 9.--Ulric. Molitor. de Python. Mulierib. -- Ripoll III. 193. -- Pico della Mirandola , La Styega, pp. 84-5.--Bernardi Comens. de Strigiis c. 7.
It is the universal testimony of the demonologists that vastly more women than men were thus involved in the toils of the Devil. To explain this, Sprenger indulges in a most bitter tirade against women, and piously thanks God for preserving the male sex from such wickedness (Mall. Malef. P. I. Q. vii.).
resuscitated, when the assembled witches resolved that whoever killed it, and the first who should eat of it, should perish. Such feats as these, it is true, gave the opponents of witchcraft the advantage of arguing that they attributed to Satan the power of God in resuscitating and recreating the dead, and the demonologists, thus hard pushed, were obliged to admit that this portion of the Sabbat was illusory, but they triumphantly added that this only proved the empire of Satan over his dupes. *
The killing of unbaptized children was one of the special duties imposed by Satan on his servants, which the theologians explained by the fact that they were thus damned for original sin, and, therefore, the Day of Judgment was postponed, as the number of the elect requisite before the destruction of the world is thus more tardily completed. At a little town near Basle a witch who was burned confessed that while acting as midwife she had killed more than forty infants by thrusting a needle into the superior fontanelle. Another, of the diocese of Strassburg, had thus disposed of innumerable children, when she was detected by accidentally letting fall the arm of a new-born child while passing the gate of a town in which she had been performing her functions. Witch midwives, when they abstained from this, were in the habit of dedicating to Satan the babes whom they delivered. It was doubtful whether the infants were thus in reality surrendered to Satan, but at least they were subjected to his influence, and likely to grow up witches. This, and dedication by witch mothers, explain the fact that girls even of eight and ten years of age were
* Burchardi Decret. XIX. 5.--Johann. Saresberiens. Polycrat. II. xvii.--Grimm, Teut. Mythol. III. 1059.-- Rapp, Die Hexenprocesse und ihre Gegner aus Tyrol, Innsbruck, 1874, p. 146.-- P. Vayra, Le Streghe nel Canavese ( Curiosità di Storia Subalpina, 1874, pp. 229, 234-5).--Bernardi Comensis de Strigiis c. 8.
A development of this belief is seen in the feat, referred to in the preceding chapter, of Zyto, the magician of the Emperor Wenceslas, who swallowed a rival conjurer and discharged him alive in a vessel of water.
Yet concurrently with this the belief existed in the absolute eating of children. Peter of Berne told. Nider that in his district thirteen were thus despatched in a short time, and he learned from a captured witch that they were killed in their cradles with incantations, dug up after burial, and boiled in a caldron. The magic unguent was made out of the flesh, while the soup had the power of winning over to the sect of Devil-worshippers whoever partook of it.-Nider Formicar. Lib. v. c. iii. able to bewitch people and to raise tempests of hail and rain. In Swabia a case occurred of one who, at the age of eight, innocently revealed her power to her father, in consequence of which her mother, who had thus dedicated her, was burned. The witch midwives were so numerous that there was scarce a hamlet without them. *
There was apparently no limit to the evil wrought by Satan through the instrumentality of those who bad thus surrendered themselves to him. Sprenger relates that one of his colleagues on a tour of duty reached a town almost depopulated on account of pestilence. Hearing a report that a woman lately buried was swallowing her winding-sheet, and that the mortality would not cease until she had accomplished the deglutition, be caused the grave to be opened and the sheet was found half swallowed. The mayor of the town drew his sword and cut off the head of the corpse and threw it out of the grave, when the pest ceased at once. An inquisition was held and the woman was found to have long been a witch. Sprenger might well deplore the threatened devastation of Christendom arising from the neglect of the authorities to suppress these crimes with due severity. †
To understand the credulity which accepted these marvels as the most portentous and dreadful of realities, it must be borne in mind that they were not the wild inventions of the demonologists, but were facts substantiated by evidence irrefragable according to the system of jurisprudence. Torture by this time had long been used universally in criminal trials when necessary; no jurist conceived that the truth could be elicited in doubtful cases without it. The criminal whom endless repetition of torment had reduced to stolid despair naturally sought to make his confession square with the requirements of his judge; the confession once made he was doomed, and knew that retraction, in place of saving him, would only bring a renewal and prolongation of his sufferings. He therefore adhered to his confession, and when it was read to him in public at his condemnation he admitted its truth. ‡ In many cases,
* Mall. Malef P. II. i. c. 13; P. III. Q. xxxiv.
† Mall. Malef. P. I. Q. xii., xv.
‡ In England, where torture was illegal, the growth of witchcraft was much slower. When the craze came an efficient substitute for torture was found in
moreover, torture and prolonged imprisonment in the foulest of dungeons doubtless produced partial derangement, leading to belief that he bad committed the acts so persistently imputed to him. In either case, desire to obtain the last sacrament, which was essential to salvation and which was only administered to contrite and repentant sinners, would induce him to maintain to the last the truth of his confession. No proof more unquestionable than this could be had of any of the events of life, and belief in the figments of witchcraft was therefore unhesitating. To doubt, moreover, if not heresy, was cause for vehement suspicion. The Church lent its overpowering authority to enforce belief on the souls of men. The malignant powers of the witch were repeatedly set forth in the bulls of successive popes for the implicit credence of the faithful, and the University of Cologne, in 1487, when expressing its approval of the Malleus Maleficarum, of Sprenger, warned every one that to argue against the reality of witchcraft was to incur the guilt of impeding the Inquisition. *
What rendered the powers of the witch peculiarly dreadful was the deplorable fact that the Church had no remedy for the evils which she so recklessly wrought. It is true that the sign of the cross, and holy water, and blessed oil, and palms, and candles, and wax and salt, and the strict observance of religious rites were in some sense a safeguard and a preventive. A witch confessed that she had been employed to kill a certain man, but when she invoked the devil for the purpose he replied that he could not do it, as the intended victim kept himself protected by the sign of the cross, and that the utmost injury that could be inflicted on him was the destruction of one eleventh of his harvests; and another one stated that on their nocturnal rounds to destroy children they were unable to enter houses in which were kept palms and blessed bread or crosses of palms or olive, or to injure those who habitually protected themselves with the sign of the cross. But it was acknowledged that, when once the spell had been cast, the victim
"pricking" or thrusting long needles in every part of the victim's body in search of the insensible spot which was a characteristic of the witch.
* Ripoll III. 193.--Pegnæ Append. ad Eymeric. pp. 83, 84, 85, 99, 105.--Approbat. Univ. Coloniens. in Mall. Malef.
For an official selection of papal bulls on the subject see Lib. Sept, Decret. Lib. v. Tit. xii.
could find no relief on earth or in heaven--human means were useless, and exorcism and the invocation of saints were powerless except in demoniacal possession. The only cure was from the devil through other witches. Curative sorcery had long been a subject of debate in theologic ethics, but it had been formally condemned as inadmissible. It not only was a pact, tacit or expressed, with Satan, but it was ascertained that one of his leading objects in urging his acolytes to injure their neighbors was to force the sufferer in despair to have recourse to sorcery and thus be drawn into evil ways. This was illustrated by a case, celebrated among demonographers, of a German bishop who, in Rome, fell madly in love with a young girl and induced her to accompany him home. During the journey she undertook to kill him by sorcery, that she might make off with the jewels with which he had loaded her, and he was nightly attacked with a burning pain in his chest which resisted all the resources of his physicians. His life was despaired of, when recourse was had to an old woman who recognized the source of his affection and told him he could only be saved by the same methods, involving the death of the bewitcher. His conscience would not allow him to assent to this without permission; he applied to Pope Nicholas V., who kindly granted him a dispensation, and then he ordered the old woman to do what she proposed. That night he was perfectly well, and word was brought him that his young paramour was dying. He went to console her, but she naturally received him with maledictions, and died devoting her soul to Satan. As Bodin admiringly remarks, the devil was cunning enough to make a pope, a bishop, and a witch all obey him, and all become accomplices in a homicide. *
Thus a very profitable trade sprang up in counteracting witchcraft, and many witches confined themselves to this branch of the profession, although they were as liable as their adversaries to condemnation for compact with the devil, for it was an incontrovertible fact that they could only relieve a sufferer by transferring
* Bernardi Comens. de Strigiis c. 14.--Mall. Maleficar. P. II. Q. i., ii.-- P. Vayra , Le Streghe nel Canavese, op. cit. p. 230.--Artic. Univers. Paris. No. 5.-Concil. Lingonens. ann. 1403 c. 4.--Prieriat. de Strigimag. Lib. II. c. 10.--Bodini Magor. Dæmonoman. p. 288.
his disease to some one else or by performing some equivalent evil act. Sprenger tells us that they were to be found every German mile or two. At Reichshofen was one whose business was so large that the lord of the place levied a toll of a penny on every one who came to her for relief, and used to boast of the large revenue which he derived from this source. A man named Hengst, at Eningen, near Constance, had more applicants than any shrine of the Virgin--even than that at Aix--and in winter, when the highways were blocked with snow, those which led to his house were trampled smooth by the crowds of his patients. *
When once the belief was fairly started in the existence of beings possessed of the powers which I have described, and actuated by motives purely malignant, it was destined to inevitable extension under the stimulus afforded by persecution. Every misfortune and every accident that occurred in a hamlet would be attributed to witchcraft. Suspicion would gradually attach to some ill-tempered crone, and she would be seized, for inquisitors held that a single careless threat, such as "You will be sorry for this," if followed by a piece of ill-luck, was sufficient to justify arrest and trial. † All the neighbors would flock in as accusers-this one had lost a cow, that one's vintage had been ruined by hail, another's garden-patch had been ravaged by caterpillars, one mother had suffered an abortion, another's milk had suddenly dried, another had lost a promising child, two lovers had quarrelled, a man had fallen from an apple-tree and had broken his neck--and under the persuasive influence of starvation or of the rack the unfortunate woman would invent some story to account for each occurrence, would name her accomplices in each, and tell whom she had met in the Sabbats, which she attended regularly. No one can read the evidence adduced at a witch-trial, or the confessions of the accused, without seeing how every accident and every misfortune and every case of sickness or death which had occurred in the vicinage for years was thus explained, and how the circle of suspicion widened so that every conviction brought new victims; burnings multiplied, and the terrified community was ready to believe that a half or more of its members were slaves of
* Prieriat. Lib. III. c. 3.--Mall. Malef. P. II. Q. ii.
† Bernard. Comens. de Strigiis c. 14.
Satan, and that it would never be free from their malignant vengeance until they should all be exterminated. For more than two centuries this craze was perpetually breaking out in one part of Europe after another, carefully nursed and stimulated by popes and inquisitors like Innocent VIII. and Leo X., Sprenger and Institoris, Bernard of Como and Bishop Binsfeld, and the amount of human misery thence arising is simply incomputable.
Fortunately on one side there was a limitation upon the otherwise illimitable powers of the witch. The contrast was so absurd between the faculties attributed to her and her utter inability to protect herself against those who tortured and burned her with impunity, that some explanation of the inconsistency was requisite. The demonologists therefore invented the comforting theory that through the goodness of God the witch instantaneously lost her power as soon as the hand of an officer of justice was laid upon her. But for this, indeed, it might have been difficult to find men hardy enough to seize, imprison, try, and execute these delegates of Satan, whose slightest ill-will was so dangerous. Judges and their officials thus were encouraged to perform their functions and were told that they need dread no reprisals. It was true that, like all theories framed to meet artificial conditions, this one was not always reconcilable to the facts. The strange fortitude with which the culprits occasionally endured the severest and most prolonged tortures, so far from being a proof of innocence, was regarded as showing that even in the hands of justice the devil was sometimes able to protect his servants by endowing them with what was called the gift of taciturnity, and the ingenuity of the inquisitors was taxed to the utmost to overcome his wiles. When this was once admitted it was difficult to deny that he could assist them in other ways, and it was recommended to the officers charged with the arrest that when they seized a witch they should on no account allow her to enter her chamber, lest she should secure some charm that would enable her to endure the torture. Such charms might be secreted about her person, or under the skin, or even in accessible cavities of the body, so the first thing to be done was to shave the prisoner from head to foot and subject her to the most indecent examination. It was on record that in Ratisbon some heretics condemned to be burned remained unhurt in the flames; vainly were they submerged in the river and roasted again. A three days' fast was ordered for the whole city, when it was revealed that they had charms concealed in a certain spot under the skin, and after the removal of these there was no further trouble in reducing them to ashes. Charms could also be used from a distance. At Innsbruck a witch boasted that if she had a single thread of a prisoner's garment she could cause him to endure torture to the death without confessing. Some inquisitors, to break the spell of taciturnity, were wont to try sacred magic by administering to the prisoner, on an empty stomach, after invoking the Trinity, three drinks of holy water in which blessed wax had been melted. In one case the most excruciating torture, continued through two whole days, failed to elicit confession, but the third day chanced to be the feast of the Virgin, and during the celebration of the holy rites the devil lost the power with which he had thus far sustained the prisoner, who revealed a plot to make way with the implacable judge, Peter of Berne, by means of sorcery. These were simple devices; a more elaborate one was to take a strip of paper of the length of the body of Christ, and write on it the seven words uttered on the cross; on a holy day, at the hour of mass, this was to be bound around the waist of the witch with relies, she was to be made to drink holy water, and be at once placed on the rack. When all these efforts failed it was a mooted question whether the Church in her extremity could have recourse to the devil by calling in other magicians to break the spell, and Prierias succeeds by ingenious casuistry in proving that she could. One precaution, held indispensable by some experienced practitioners, was that the witch on arrest was to be placed immediately in a basket and thus be carried to prison, without allowing her feet to touch the earth, for if she were permitted to do so she could slay her captors with lightning and escape. *
There was another comfortable theory that those who exercised public functions for the suppression of witchcraft were not subject to the influence of witches or demons. Sprenger tells us that he and his colleagues had been many times assailed by devils in the shape of monkeys, dogs, and goats, but by the aid of God they
* Mall. Maleficar. P. II. Q. i.; P. II. Q. viii.; P. III. Q. xv.--Prieriat. Lib. II. c. 9; Lib. III. c. 3.--Nider Formicar. Lib. v. c. 7.
had always been able to overcome the enemy. Yet there were exceptions to this, as we have seen in the case of the unlucky inquisitor and podestà of Como; and the lenity of some judges was explained by the fact that the witch was sometimes able so to affect their minds that they were unable to convict. This steeled the heart of the conscientious inquisitor, who repressed all sentiments of compassion in the belief that they were prompted by Satan. The witch was specially able to exert this power over her judge when she looked upon him before he saw her, and it was a wise precaution to make her enter the court backwards, so that the judge had the advantage of the first glance. He and his assistants were also advised to be very careful not to let a witch touch them, especially on the wrist or other joint, and to wear around the neck a bag containing salt exorcised on Palm Sunday, with consecrated herbs enclosed in blessed wax, besides constantly protecting themselves with the sign of the cross. It was doubtless through neglect of these salutary precautions that at a witchburning in the Black Forest, as the executioner was lifting the convict on the pile she blew in his face, saying, "I will reward you," whereupon a horrible leprosy broke out which spread over his body, and in a few days he was dead. Occasionally, moreover, the familiar demon of the witch, in the shape of a raven, would accompany her to the place of execution and prevent the wood from burning until he was driven off. *
To combat an evil so widespread and all-pervading required the combined exertions of Church and State. The secular and episcopal courts both had undoubted jurisdiction over it; the action of John XXII., in 1330, may have caused some question as to the Inquisition, but if so it was settled in 1374, when the Inquisitor of France was proceeding against some sorcerers and his competence was disputed, and Gregory XI., to whom the matter was referred, instructed him to prosecute them with the full severity of the laws. Commissions issued in 1409 and 1418 to Pons Feugeyron, Inquisitor of Provence, enumerate sorcerers, conjurers, and invokers of demons among those whom he is to suppress. As the growth of witchcraft became more alarming, Eugenius
* Mall. Malef. P. II. Q. i.; Q. i. c. 4, 11; P. III. Q. xv.--Prieriat. Lib. III. c. 2.-- Jahn, Hexenwesen und Zauberei in Pommern, Breslau, 1886, p. 8.
IV., in 1437, stimulated the inquisitors everywhere to greater activity against it, and these instructions were repeated in 1445. In 1451 Nicholas V. even enlarged the powers of Hugues le Noir, Inquisitor of France, by granting him jurisdiction over divination, even when it did not savor of heresy. There was occasional clashing, of course, between the episcopal officials and the inquisitors, but the rule seems to have been generally observed that either could proceed separately, while the Clementine regulation should be observed which prescribed their co-operation in the use of torture and punitive imprisonment and when rendering final sentence. The bishops, moreover, assumed that their assent was necessary to the action of the secular courts. In the case of Guillaume Edeline, condemned to perpetual imprisonment at Evreux in 1453, when the sentence was read by the episcopal official the bishop added "We retain our power of pardon," but the inquisitor at once entered a formal protest that the prisoner should not be released without the consent of the Inquisition. *
Yet in France at this period the royal jurisdiction, as embodied in the Parlement, was, as we have seen in a former chapter, successfully exerting its superiority over both bishops and inquisitors. A curious case occurring in 1460 illustrates both this and the superstitions current at the time. A priest of the diocese of Soissons named Yves Favins brought a suit for tithes against a husbandman named Jean Rogier, who held of the Hospitallers. These, like the Templars, were exempt from tithes; Favins lost his case, was condemned in the expenses, which were heavy, and was eager for revenge. A poor woman of the village who had come from Merville in Hainault, had quarrelled with the wife of Rogier over the price of some spinning, and to her Yves had recourse. She gave him a great toad which she kept in a pot, and told him to baptize it and feed it on a consecrated wafer, which he did, giving it the name of John. The woman then killed it and made of it a "sorceron," which her daughter took to Rogier's house under pretence of demanding the money in dispute, and cast it under the table at which Rogier, his wife, and his son were dining. They
* Raynald. ann. 1374, No. 13; ann. 1437, No. 27.--Ripoll II. 566-7; III. 193, 301.--Prieriat. Lib. III. c. 1.--Mall. Maleficar. P. II. Q. i. c. 16; P. III. Q. i.--Anon. Carthus. de Relig. Orig. c. xxvi. ( Martene Ampl. Coll. VI. 59).
all died within three days; suspicion was aroused, and the two women were arrested and confessed. The mother was burned, but the daughter obtained a respite on the plea of pregnancy, escaped from jail and fled to Hainault, but was brought back and was carried on appeal to Paris. Yves was rich and well-connected. He was arrested and confined in the prison of the Bishop of Paris, but he obtained counsel and appealed to the Parlement; the Parlement allowed the appeal, tried him, and acquitted him. *
All secular tribunals were not as enlightened as the Parlement of Paris, but there seems to have been at least sometimes an effort to administer even-handed justice. About this time a case occurred at Constance in which an accuser formally inscribed himself against a peasant whom he had met riding on a wolf, and had immediately become crippled. He applied to the peasant, who cured him, but observing that the wizard bewitched others, he felt it his duty to prosecute him. The case was exhaustively argued before the magistrates, for the prosecution and the defence, by two eloquent advocates, Conrad Schatz and Ulric Blaser. Torture was not used, but the accused was condemned and burned on the testimony of witnesses. †
In the ecclesiastical tribunals offenders had not the same chance. We have seen in a former chapter how skilfully the inquisitorial process was framed to secure conviction, and when, after a prolonged period of comparative inactivity, the Inquisition was aroused to renewed exertion in combating the legions of Satan, it sharpened its rusted weapons to a yet keener edge. The old hesitation about pronouncing a sentence of acquittal was no longer entertained, for though the accused might be dismissed with a verdict of not proven, the inquisitor was formally instructed never to declare him innocent. Yet few there were upon whom even this doubtful clemency was exercised, for all the resources of
The constant recurrence of the toad in all the operations of witchcraft opens a suggestive question in zoölogical mythology. Space will not admit its discussion here, but I may mention, as a proof of the antiquity of the superstitions connected with the animal, that in Mazdeism the toad was one of the special creations of Ahriman, and was devoted to his service. It was a toad which he set to destroying the Gokard, or Tree of all plants, and which will always be endeavoring to do so until the resurrection (Bundehesh, ch. xviii.).
* Mémoires de Jacques du Clereq, Liv. IV. ch. xxiii.
† Ulric. Molitoris de Python. Mulierib. c. iv. III.--33
fraud and force, of guile and torment, were exhausted to secure conviction with even less reserve than of old. Engaged in a personal combat with Satan, the inquisitor was convinced in advance of the guilt of those brought before him as defamed for sorcery, and the ancient expedients were refined upon and improved. Formerly endurance of torture might be regarded as an evidence of innocence, now it was only an additional proof of guilt, for it showed that Satan was endeavoring to save his servitor, and the duty to defeat him was plain, even though, as Sprenger tells us was frequently the case, the witch would allow herself to be torn. in pieces before she would confess. Though, as formerly, torture could not be repeated, it could be "continued" indefinitely, with prolonged periods of intervening imprisonment in dungeons of which the squalor was purposely heightened to exhaust the mental and physical forces of the victim. It is true that confession was not absolutely requisite, for when the evidence was sufficient the accused could be convicted without it, but it was held that common justice required that the criminal should avow his guilt, and therefore the use of torture was universal when confession could not be otherwise secured. Yet in view of the satanic gift of taciturnity it was desirable to avoid recourse to it, and therefore promises of pardon, not indefinitely veiled under a juggle of words as of old, but positive and specifying a moderate penance or exile, were to be freely made. If the fraud was successful, the inquisitor could let the sentence be pronounced by some one else, or allow a decent interval to elapse before himself sending his deluded victim to the stake. All the other devices to entrap or seduce the prisoner to confession which we have seen employed by the older inquisitors were also still recommended. One new and infallible sign was the inability of the witch to shed tears during torture and before the judges, though she could do so freely elsewhere. In such a case the inquisitor was instructed to adjure her to weep by the loving tears shed for the world by Christ on the cross, but the more she was adjured, we are told, the drier she would become. Still, with the usual logic of the demonologist, if she did weep it was a device of the devil and was not to be reckoned in her favor. *
* Prieriat. Lib. III. c. 3.--Mall. Maleficar. P. II. Q. vii., xvi.; P. III. Q. xiii., xiv.
The most significant change, however, between the old procedure and the new regarded the death-penalty. We have seen that with the heretic the object was held to be the salvation of his soul, and, except in case of relapse, he could always purchase life by recantation, at the expense of lifelong imprisonment, with the prospect that in time submission might win him release. At what period the rule changed with respect to witches is uncertain. When convicted by the secular courts they were invariably burned, and the Inquisition came to adopt the same practice. In 1445 the Council of Rouen still treats them with singular mildness. Invokers of demons were to be publicly preached with mitres on their heads, when, if they abjured, the bishop was empowered to release them after performance of appropriate penance; after this, if they relapsed, clerks were to be perpetually imprisoned, and laymen abandoned to the secular arm, while for minor superstitions and incantations a month's prison and fasting were sufficient, with heavier penance for relapse. In 1448 the Council of Lisieux contented itself with ordering priests on all Sundays and festivals to denounce as excommunicate all usurers, sorcerers, and diviners. In 1453 Guillaume Edeline escaped with abjuration and prison. In 1458 Jaquerius laboriously argues that the witch is not to be treated like other heretics, to be spared if she recants, showing that the change was still a novelty, requiring justification. In 1484 Sprenger says positively that while the recanting heretic is to be imprisoned, the sorcerer, even if penitent, is to be put to death, indicating that by this time there was no longer any question on the subject. There was, as usual, a pretence of shifting the responsibility of this upon the secular authorities, for Sprenger adds that the most the ecclesiastical judge can do is to absolve the penitent and converted witch from the ipso facto excommunication under which she lies and let her go, to be apprehended by the lay courts and be burned for the evil which she has wrought. Silvester Prierias shows us how transparent was this juggle, when he instructs the inquisitor that if the witch confesses and is penitent she is to be received to mercy and not be delivered to the secular arm: she is to abjure, is absolved and sentenced to perpetual imprisonment in a black dress; the dress is put on her and she is led to the churchdoor--but not to prison. The Inquisition takes no further concern about her; if the secular court is content, well and good--if not, it does as it pleases. What the inquisitors would have said if it pleased the secular authorities to let the witch go free may be judged by the maledictions of Sprenger on the incredulous laity who disbelieved in the reality of witchcraft, and through whose supineness the secular arm had allowed the cursed sect to so increase that its extirpation appeared impossible. * Still more instructive, as we shall see hereafter, was the indignation of Leo X. when the Signory of Venice refused to burn the witches of Brescia condemned by the Inquisition.
Equally frivolous was the pretence that the punishment of burning was merely for the injuries wrought by the witch, for we shall see that in the case of the Vaudois of Arras the convicts were burned as a matter of course, although attendance upon the Sabbat was the only crime with which most of the sufferers were charged, and that they were delivered for the purpose by the ecclesiastical court to the magistrates, and even burned without such formality. Besides, Sprenger tells us that in the case of prominent and influential witches the death-penalty was frequently commuted to perpetual imprisonment on bread and water, as a reward for betraying their accomplices, which shows that the fate of the accused in reality rested with the inquisitor. Still, there appears to have been, in at least one case, a simulacrum of judgment by the secular court which I have rarely met where heretics were concerned. November 5, 1474, at Levone, in Piedmont, Francesca Viloni and Antonia d' Alberto were condemned by the acting inquisitor Francesco Chiabaudi. The sentence orders their delivery to the secular arm with a protest that no corporal punishment was thereby indicated, directly or indirectly, although the goods of the convicts were declared confiscated. The same day the assistant inquisitor, Frà Lorenzo Butini, delivered them to the podestà, Bartolomeo Pasquale, with the protest, to protect himself from "irregularity," that he did not intend to indicate for them any corporal punishment or to consent to it. The podestà allowed two days to elapse and then held, November 7, a solemn court to
* Concil. Rotomagens. ann. 1445 c. 6 ( Bessin Concil. Rotomagens. I. 184).-C. Lexoviens. ann. 1448 c. 9 ( Ibid. II. 482 ).--Nic. Jaquerii Flagellum Hæret. Fascinar. c. 27.--Mall. Malef. P. L. Q. xiv.; P. II. Q. i. c. 3, 16.--Prieriat. de Strigimag. Lib. III. c. 3.
which the population was summoned by blast of trumpet. The convicts were brought before him, when his consultore, or legal adviser, Lorenzo di Front, addressed him to the effect that the women had been condemned by the Inquisition for witchcraft, heresy, and apostasy, and that, according to the laws, he must sentence them to the legal punishment of burning alive, which he incontinently did. It evidently was the merest formality, and possibly, as the death of two of the podestà's children had been attributed to one of the witches, he may have wished to magnify his share in the retribution. *
As of old, practically the sole defence of the accused lay in disabling the witnesses for enmity, and judges were reminded that the enmity must be of the most violent nature, for, with the wonted happy facility of assuming guilt in advance, they were told that there was almost always some enmity involved, since witches were odious to everybody. At the same time all the old methods of reducing this slender chance to a minimum were followed, supplemented with such as additional experience had suggested. The names of the witnesses were generally suppressed, but if they were communicated they were so arranged as to mislead, and in advance effort was made to debar the accused from disabling the most damaging ones by enticing her to deny all knowledge of them or to declare them to be her friends. If she insisted on seeing the evidence, it might be given to her after interpolating in it extraneous matters and accusations to lead her astray. †
Appeals were always to be refused if possible. Outside of France the only one that could be made was to Rome for refusing counsel, for improper torture, and other unjust proceeding; and then, as we have seen, the inquisitor could either refuse "apostoli" or grant either reverential or negative ones. If conscious of injustice and aware that an appeal was coming, he could elude it by appointing some one to sit in his place. The danger of appeals was small, however, for if the accused insisted on having counsel she was not allowed to select him. The inquisitor appointed him; he was bound not to assume the defence if he knew it to be un-
* Mall. Maleficar. P. II. Q. xiv.-- P. Vayra, Le Streghe nel Canavese, op. cit. pp. 218-21, 232.
† Prieriat. Lib. III. c. 3.--Mall. Maleficar. P. III, Q. xii.
just; he was not allowed to know the names of the witnesses, and his functions were restricted to advising his client either to confess or to disable the witnesses. If he made difficulties and delays and interjected appeals he was subject to excommunication as a fautor of heresy, and was worse than the witches themselves--of all of which he was to be duly warned when accepting the case. *
The consequences of neglecting these salutary precautions are seen in two trials in 1474, at Rivara in Piedmont. A number of witches had been burned, and as usual they had implicated others. The matter had been conducted by Francesco Chiabaudi, a canon regular, commissioned by both the Bishop of Turin and Michele de' Valenti, the Inquisitor of Lombardy. Inexperienced and unskilled, he had appointed Tommaso Balardi, parish priest of Rivara, to make the preliminary informations in five fresh accusations. The evidence, as usual, was overwhelming; Balardi arrested the culprits and gave them ten days to show cause why they should not be tortured. At the same time, with incredible ignorance of his duties, he allowed them to select defenders, when they chose their husbands or brothers or sons. In the case of three, these defenders did nothing and the trials were conducted as usual, though the fragmentary documents remaining do not acquaint us with the result. The other two, Guglielmina Ferreri and Margherita Cortina, were more fortunate. They seem to have been rich peasants, and their families retained three able lawyers for their defence. When these were once admitted before the tribunal the prosecution went to pieces. Chiabaudi, unacquainted with the privileges of the inquisitorial process, was wholly unable to control them. He allowed them to enter protests against the initial informations for irregularity, and even permitted them, against all precedent, to introduce witnesses for the defence. They had the audacity to summon Balardi himself, and made him testify that the accused were regular in all religious observances; after which they poured in evidence that the so-called witches were eminently pious and charitable women, and that the rumors against them had only arisen a couple of years before, on the burning of three sisters who were said to have named them in their confessions. Chiabaudi sought refuge in appointing An-
* Mall. Maleficar. P. III. Q. x., xi., xxxv.--Prieriat. Lib. III. c. 3.
tonio Valo, a local legal luminary, as procurator-fiscal, or prosecutor, an official unknown to the Inquisition of the period, whom the counsel for the accused speedily drove out of court. With each hearing they grew more aggressive. They boldly quoted the Digest and the rules of law and justice as though such things had not been expressly prohibited in inquisitorial trials. Finally they told Chiabaudi that he was himself suspect; that as a canon he had no right to leave his convent for such business, and that all his acts were null. The whole prosecution, they said, was merely an attempt to extort money and to divide the plunder of the accused, and they appealed to the episcopal vicar of Turin, with a threat, if necessary, to obtain the intervention of the Duke of Savoy himself. Chiabaudi yielded to the storm which he had imprudently allowed to gather strength, and in February, 1375, he permitted the transfer of the case to the episcopal court of Turin. Whether the unfortunate women fared better there will, doubtless, never be known, but the case shows the wisdom of the precautions adopted by the regular inquisitors of selecting counsel themselves and threatening them with excommunication if they defended their clients. It is interesting, moreover, as probably the only inquisitorial trial on record, save that of Gilles de Rais, in which the forbidden litis contestatio was carried out. *
A much more typical and illustrative case, of which we happen to have the details, is that of the "Vaudois," † or witches of Arras, showing how witchcraft panics were developed and what could be accomplished by inquisitorial methods, even under the supreme jurisdiction of the Parlement of Paris. In 1459, while a general chapter of the Dominican Order was in session at Langres, there chanced to be burned there as a witch a hermit named Robinet de Vaulx. He was forced to name all whom he had seen in the Sabbat, and among them was a young femme de folle vie of Douai, named Deniselle, and a resident of Arras, advanced in years, named Jean la Vitte--a painter and poet, who had written many
* P. Vayra, Le Streghe nel Canavese, op. cit. pp. 658-715.
† It will be remembered (Vol. I. p. 158) that by this time in France, Vaudois and Vaudoisie had become the designation of all deviations from faith, and was especially applied to sorcery. Hence is derived the word Voodooism, descriptive of the negro sorcery of the French colonies, transmitted to the United States through Louisiana.
beautiful ballads in honor of the Virgin, and who was a general favorite, though, as he was popularly known as the Abbé-de-peude-sens, he was probably not a very sedate character. * Pierre le Brousart, the Inquisitor of Arras, was present at the chapter, and on his return he lost no time in looking after the accused. Deniselle was soon arrested and thrown into the episcopal prison; Jean, Bishop of Arras, whom we have seen promoted to the cardinalate for his services in procuring the repeal of the Pragmatic Sanction, was then in Rome; his suffragan was a Dominican, Jean, titular Bishop of Beirut, formerly a papal penitentiary, and his vicars were Pierre du Hamel, Jean Thibault, Jean Pochon, and Mathieu du Hamel. These took up the matter warmly and were earnestly supported by Jacques du Boys, a doctor of laws and dean of the chapter, who thrust himself into the affair and pushed it with relentless vigor. After repeated torture, Deniselle confessed to have attended the Sabbat and named various persons seen there, among them Jean la Vitte. He had already been compromised by Robinet, and had gone into hiding, but the inquisitor hunted him up at Abbeville, arrested him, and brought him to Arras, when he was no sooner in prison than in despair he tried to cut out his tongue with a pocket-knife, so as to prevent himself from confessing. He did not succeed, but though he was long unable to speak, this did not save him from torture, for he could use the pen and was obliged to write out his confession. Forced to name all whom he had seen in the Sabbat, he implicated a large number, including nobles, ecclesiastics, and common folk. Six more arrests were made among the latter, including several women of the town; the affair threatened to spread farther than had at first been expected; the vicars grew timid and concluded to dis-
* There was some debate whether the evidence of a witch as to those whom she had seen in the Sabbat was to be received, but it was settled in favor of the faith by the unanswerable argument that otherwise the principal means of detecting witches would be lost. If the accused alleged that the devil had caused an apparition resembling him to be present, he was to be required to prove the fact, which was not easy (Jaquerii Flagell. Hæret. Fascinar. c. 26).--Bernardo di Como ( de Strigiis, c. 13, 14) says that the mere accusation of being seen in the Sabbat is not sufficient to justify arrest, as the individual may be personated by a demon, but it has to be reinforced by "conjectures and presumptions," which, of course, were never lacking.
charge all the prisoners. Then Jacques du Boys and the Bishop of Beirut constituted themselves formal complainants; the latter, moreover, went to Péronne and brought to Arras the Comte d'Estampes, Captain-general of Picardy for Philippe le Bon of Burgundy, who ordered the vicars to do their duty under threats of prosecuting them.
Four women of the last batch of prisoners confessed under torture and implicated a large number of others. The vicars, uncertain as to their duty, sent the confessions to two notable clerks, Gilles Carlier, dean, and Gregoire Nicolai, official, of Cambrai, who replied that if the accused were not relapsed and if they would recant they were not to be put to death, provided they had not committed murder and abused the Eucharist. Here we recognize a transition period between the old practice with heretics and the new with sorcerers, but du Boys and the Bishop of Beirut were fully imbued with the new notions, and insisted that all should be burned. They declared that whoever disputed this was himself a sorcerer, that any one who should presume to aid or counsel the prisoners should share their fate. The welfare of Christendom was concerned, a full third of nominal Christians were secretly sorcerers, including many bishops, cardinals, and grand masters, and that if they could assemble under a leader it would be difficult to estimate the destruction which they could inflict on religion and society. Possibly one of these worthies may be credited with the authorship of a tract upon the subject, a copy of which, formerly belonging to Philippe le Bon, is now in the Royal Library of Brussels. The anonymous writer, who describes himself as a priest, speaks of "Vauderie" as something new and unheard of, more execrable than all the detestable errors of paganism since the beginning of the world. He calls on the prelates to arise and purge Christendom of these abominable sectaries, and to excite the people by denouncing their most damnable crimes, but his most burning eloquence is addressed to the princes. Not without significance is the sword borne before them, for it is to remind them that they are ministers and officers of God, whose duty it is to order unsparing vengeance on these criminals. If the sectaries are allowed to multiply the most fearful results are to be expected, and the King of Darkness is already rejoicing at the prospect. Wars and enmities will come; strife and sedition will rage in the fields, in the cities, and in the kingdoms. In mutual slaughter men will fall dead in heaps. Children will rise against their elders and the villeins will assail the nobles. It was not only religion, but the whole social order, which was threatened by a few strumpets and the Abbé-de-peude-sells. *
Like the agent of Conrad Tors in the days of Conrad of Marburg, the Bishop of Beirut boasted that he could recognize a Vaudois or sorcerer at sight. In conjunction with du Boys he procured another arrest, and induced the Comte d'Estampes to order the vicars to hasten their proceedings. Under this pressure, an assembly of all the principal ecclesiastics of Arras, with some jurists, was held on May 9, 1460, to consider the evidence. The deliberation was short, and the accused were condemned. The next day, on a scaffold in front of the episcopal palace, and in presence of a crowd which had gathered from twelve leagues around, the convicts were brought forward, together with the body of one of them, Jean le Febvre, who had been found hanging in his cell. Mitres were placed on their heads, with pictures representing them as worshipping the devil. The inquisitor preached the sermon, and read the description of the Sabbat and of their visits to it, and then asked them individually if it was true, to which they all assented. Then he read the sentence abandoning them to the secular arm, their property to be confiscated, the real estate to the seigneur and the movables to the bishop, and they were delivered to their several jurisdictions, Deniselle being handed over to the authorities of Douai who were present to receive her, and the rest to those of Arras. At once they began with shrieks to assert that they had been cruelly deceived--that they had been promised that if they would confess they would be discharged with a pilgrimage of ten or twelve leagues, and had been threatened with burning for persistence in denial. With one voice they declared that they had never been to the "Vauderie," that their confessions had been extorted under stress of torture and false promises and blandishments, and until they were silenced by the flames they begged the people to pray for them, and their friends to have masses sung in their behalf. The last words heard from
* MSS. Bib. Roy. de Bruxelles, No. 11209.
the Abbé-de-peu-de-sens, were " Jesus autem transiens per medium illorum." Gilles Flameng, an advocate who had been active in the whole proceeding, was the especial object of their reproaches; they reviled him as a traitor who had been particularly earnest in the false promises which had lured them to destruction.
Appetite grew by what it fed on. This execution was followed immediately by the arrest, on the requisition of the inquisitor, of thirteen persons, including six public women, who had been implicated by the confessions. The managers of the business, however, seemed to tire of the pursuit of such worthless game, and grew bold enough to strike higher. On June 22 Arras was startled by the arrest of Jean Tacquet, an eschevin and one of the richest citizens; on the next day by that of Pierre des Carieulx, equally wealthy and esteemed the best accountant in Artois; and on the next by that of the Chevalier Payen de Beauffort, a septuagenary and the head of one of the most ancient and richest houses in the province, who had manifested his piety by founding three convents. He had been warned that his name was on the list of accused, but had declared that if he were a thousand leagues away he would return to meet the charge, and in fact he had come to the city for the purpose. In his hôtel of la Chevrette his children and friends had entreated him to depart if he felt himself guilty, when with the most solemn oaths he asserted his innocence. His arrest had not been ventured upon without the consent of Philippe le Bon, secured by Philippe de Saveuse; the Comte d'Estampes had come to Arras to insure it, and refused to see him when he begged an interview. This was followed, July 7, by an auto de fé of seven of those arrested on May 9; five of these were burned, and, like their predecessors, asserted that their confessions had been wrung from them by torture, and died begging the prayers of all good Christians. Two were sentenced to imprisonment for definite terms, the reason alleged being that they had not revoked after their first confession--a highly irregular proceeding of which the object was to facilitate further convictions.
The affair was now beginning to attract general attention and animadversion. Philippe le Bon was disturbed, for he heard that at Paris and elsewhere it was reported that he was seizing the rich men of his dominions to confiscate their property. Accordingly he sent to Arras, as supervisors, his confessor, a Dominican and titular Bishop of Selimbria, together with the Chevalier Baudoin de Noyelles, Governor of Péronne, while the Comte d'Estampes deputed his secretary, Jean Forme, together with Philippe de Saveuse, the Seigneur de Crèvecœur, who was bailly of Amiens, and his lieutenant, Guillaume de Berri. The first effort of these new-comers seems to have been to share in the spoils. On July 16 Baudoin de Noyelles arrested Antoine Sacquespée, an eschevin and one of the richest of the citizens, who had been urged to fly, but who, like de Beauffort, had declared that he would come a thousand leagues to face the accusation. The next day another eschevin, Jean Josset, was seized, and a sergent-de-ville named Henriet Royville, while three whose arrest was pending fled, two of them being wealthy men, Martin Cornille, and Willaume le Febvre, whom the Comte d'Estampes pursued as far as Paris without success. A panic terror by this time pervaded the community; no one knew when his turn would come, and men scarce dared to leave the city for fear they would be accused of flying through conscious guilt, while citizens who were absent were unwelcome guests everywhere, and could scarce find lodgings. Similarly, strangers would not venture to visit the city. Arras was a prosperous seat of manufactures, and its industries suffered enormously. Its merchants lost their credit; creditors importunately demanded settlement, for the risk of confiscation hung over every man, and we have seen how the rights of creditors in such cases were extinguished. The vicars endeavored to soothe the general alarm and distress by a proclamation that no one need fear arrest who was innocent, for none were arrested unless eight or ten witnesses swore to seeing them at the Sabbat--though it was afterwards found that many were seized on the evidence of only one or two.
At length, at the expense of the prisoners, the inquisitor, with the vicars and Gilles Flameng, was sent to the Duke of Burgundy at Brussels, to lay before him the evidence of the trials. The duke called a great assembly of clerks, including the doctors of Louvain, who gravely debated the matter. Some held, with the Cap. Episcopi, that it was all a delusion, others that it was a reality. No conclusion was reached, and the duke finally sent his herald, Toison d'Or ( Lefebvre, Seigneur de Saint-Remy) in whom he had great confidence, back with the vicars, to be present at all examinations. They reached Arras August 14, after which there were no further arrests, although innumerable names were on the lists of accused. The prisoners were less inhumanly treated, and but four of the pending trials were pushed to a conclusion. Reports of these were sent to Brussels for the duke's consideration, and they were brought back, October 12, by the president of the ducal chamber, Adrien Collin, in whose presence the accused were again examined. Finally, on October 22, the customary assembly was held, immediately followed by the auto de fé, where the sermon was preached by the Inquisitor of Cambrai, and the sentences were read by the Inquisitor of Arras, and by Michael du Hamel, one of the vicars. The four convicts had different fates.
The Chevalier de Beauffort, it was recited, had confessed that he had thrice been to the Sabbat--twice on foot and once by flying on an anointed staff. He had refused to give his soul to Satan, but had given him four of his hairs. The inquisitor asked him if this was true, and he replied in the affirmative, begging for mercy. The inquisitor then announced that, as he had confessed without torture, and had never retracted, he should not be mitred and burned but be scourged (a penance inflicted by the inquisitor on the spot, but without removing the penitent's clothes), be imprisoned for seven years, and pay a long list of fines for pious purposes, amounting in all to eight thousand two hundred livres, including one thousand five hundred to the Inquisition. But besides these fines, thus publicly announced, he was obliged to pay four thousand to the Duke of Burgundy, two thousand to the Comte d'Estampes, one thousand to the Seigneur de Crèvecœur, and one hundred to his lieutenant, Guillaume de Berry. *
The next was the rich eschevin, Jean Tacquet. He admitted that he had been to the Sabbat ten times or more. He had endeavored to withdraw his allegiance from Satan, who had forced him to continue it by beating him cruelly with a bull's pizzle. He was now condemned to scourging, administered as in the case of
* This was, doubtless, in commutation for confiscation, and reveals the object of the whole affair. To estimate the magnitude of the fines, it may be mentioned that de Beauffort's annual revenue was estimated at five hundred livres. The richest citizens of Arras who were arrested were said to be worth from four hundred to five hundred livres a year.
de Beauffort, to ten years' prison, and to fines amounting to one thousand four hundred livres, of which two hundred went to the Inquisition; but, as in de Beauffort's case, there were secret contributions exacted from him.
The third was Pierre du Carieulx, another rich citizen. His sentence recited that he had been to the Sabbat innumerable times; holding a lighted candle he had kissed, under the tail, the devil in the shape of a monkey; he had given him his soul in a compact written with his own blood; he had thrice given to the Abbé-depeu-de-sells consecrated wafers received at Easter, out of which, with the bones of men hanged, which he had picked up under the gallows, and the blood of young children, of whom he had slain four, he had helped to make the infernal ointment and certain powders, with which they injured men and beasts. When asked to confirm this he denied it, saying that it had been forced from him by torture; and he would have added much more, but he was silenced. Abandoned to secular justice, the eschevins demanded him as their bourgeois, and on their paying his prison expenses he was delivered to them. They allowed him to talk in the townhall, when he disculpated all whom he had accused, of whom he said there were many present, eschevins and others, adding that, under torture, he had accused every one he knew, and if he had known more he would have included them. He was burned the same day.
The fourth was Huguet Aubry, a man of uncommon force and resolution. In spite of the severest and most prolonged torture, he had confessed nothing. He had been accused by nine witnesses, and he was now asked if he would confess under promise of mercy; but he repeated that he knew nothing of Vauderie, and had never been to the Sabbat. Then the inquisitor told him that he had broken jail and been recaptured, which rendered him guilty. He threw himself on his knees and begged for mercy, but was condemned to prison, on bread and water, for twenty years; a most irregular sentence, which could never have been rendered under the perfected system of procedure, for the evidence against him was strong, and his constancy under torture only proved that Satan had endowed him with the gift of taciturnity.
This was the last of the persecution. There had been only thirty-four arrests and twelve burnings; which, in the flourishing times of witchcraft, would have been a trifle, but the novelty of the occurrence in Picardy, the character of the victims, and the subsequent proceedings in the Parlement attracted to it a disproportionate attention. That it came to so early a termination is possibly attributable to the fact that Philippe de Saveuse had directed the torture of the women not only to convict de Beauffort, but to incriminate the Seigneurs de Croy and others, from avaricious and perhaps political motives. The de Croy were at this time all-powerful at the ducal court, and doubtless used their interest to arrest the ecclesiastical machinery which was strong enough to crush even them. It has every appearance of a repetition of the old story of Conrad of Marburg.
Whatever the cause, the inquisitor and the vicars now put a stop to the prosecutions, without calling in the Bishop of Beirut, Jacques du Boys, de Saveuse, and others, who urged them to proceed with the good work. In vain the latter talked of the imminent dangers impending over Christendom from the innumerable multitude of sorcerers, many of whom held high station in the Church and in the courts of princes. Vainly even the last card was played, and the superstitious were frightened by rumors that Antichrist was born, and that the sorcerers would support him. *
One by one the accused were discharged, as they were able to raise money to pay the expenses of their prison and of the Inquisition, which was a condition of liberation in all cases except those of utter poverty. Some had to undergo the formality of purging, themselves with compurgators. Antoine Sacquespée, for instance,
* The belief in the imminent advent of Antichrist was as strong in the fifteenth century as in its predecessors. In 1445 the University of Paris was astonished by a young Spaniard, about twenty years of age, who came there and overcame the most learned schoolmen and theologians in disputation. He appeared equally at home in all branches of learning, including medicine and law; he was matchless with the sword, and played ravishingly on all instruments of music. After confounding, Paris, he went to the Duke of Burgundy, at Ghent, and thence passed into Germany. The doctors of the University pondered over the apparition, and finally concluded that he was Antichrist, who, it was well known, would possess all arts and sciences by the secret aid of Satan, and would be a good Christian until he attained the age of twenty-eight ( Chron. de Mathieu de Coussy, ch. VIII.). The wonderful stranger was Fernando de Cordoba, who settled in the papal court, and wrote several books, which have been forgotten. See Nich. Anton. Biblioth. Hispan. Lib. x. cap. xiii. No. 734-9.
who had been tortured without confession, had to furnish seven, and was not allowed to escape without surrendering a portion of his substance. Others had light penance, like Jennon d'Amiens, a woman who had confessed after being several times tortured, and was now only required to make a five-league pilgrimage to Nôtre Dame d'Esquerchin. This was an admission that the whole affair was a fraud; and even more remarkable was the case of a fille de joie named Belotte, who had been repeatedly tortured, and had confessed. She would have been burned with the other women on May 9, but it happened, accidentally or otherwise, that her mitre was not ready, and her execution was postponed, and now she was only banished from the diocese, and ordered to make a pilgrimage to Nôtre Dame de Boulogne. Of the whole number arrested nine had the constancy to endure torture--in most cases long and severe--without confession.
As the terror passed away the feelings of the people expressed themselves sportively in some verses scattered through the streets, lampooning the principal actors in the tragedy. The stanza devoted to Pierre le Brousart runs thus:
"Then the inquisitor, with his white hood,
His shining nose and his repulsive mazzard,
Among the foremost in the game has stood
To torture these poor folk as witch or wizard.
But he knows only what he his been told,
For his sole thought throughout has been to hold
And keep their goods and chattels at all hazard.
But he has failed in this, and been cajoled."
The vicars and their advocates and the assembly of experts are all held guilty, and the verses conclude by threatening them:
"But you shall all be punished in a mass,
And we shall learn who caused the wondrous tale
Of Vaudois in our city of Arras." *
* The Chronicler of Arras tells us that at this time there was no enforcement of the laws in Arras; every one did as he pleased, and no one was punished but the friendless. His statement is borne out by the cases of homicide and other crimes which he relates, and of which no notice was taken (Mém. de Jacques du Clercq, Liv. IV. ch. 22, 24, 40, 41). Yet vigorous search was made for the author of this pasquinade, and Jacotin Maupetit was arrested by an usher-at-arms of the duke on the charge of writing it. He adroitly slipped out of his doublet, and sought asylum in three successive churches, finally succeeding in getting to Paris,
The prophecy was not wholly unverified. Fortunately there was in France a Parlement which had succeeded in establishing its jurisdiction over both the great vassals and the Inquisition, and the relations between the courts of Paris and Brussels were such as to render it nothing loath to interfere. De Beauffort, before his examination, had made an appeal to this supreme tribunal, which had been disregarded and suppressed, but his son Philippe had carried to Paris the tale of the wrongs committed on his father. The Parlement moved slowly, but on January 16, 1461, Philippe came back with an usher commissioned to bring de Beauffort before it after investigating the case. This official took testimony, and on the 25th, accompanied by de Beauffort's four sons and thirty well-armed men, he presented himself before the vicars. Frightened by this formidable demonstration, they refused to see him; but he went to the episcopal palace, took the keys of the prison by force, and carried de Beauffort to the Conciergerie in Paris, after serving notice on the vicars to answer before the Parlement on February 25. The matter was now fairly in train for a legal investigation in which both sides could be heard. The convicts who had been condemned to imprisonment were set at liberty and carried to Paris, where their evidence confirmed that of de Beauffort. The conspirators were grievously alarmed. Jacques du Boys, the dean, who had been the prime mover, became insane about the time set for the hearing; and though he recovered his senses, his limbs failed him; he took to his bed, where bed-sores ate great holes in his flesh, and he died in about a year, some persons attributing to sorcery and others to divine vengeance what evidently was mental trouble, causing temporary insanity followed by paresis. The Bishop of Beirut was thrown in prison, charged with having set the affair on foot, but he managed to escape, by miracle as he asserted; he made a pilgrimage to Compostella, and on his return secured the position of confessor to Queen Marie, dowager of Charles VII., where he was safe. Other conspicuous actors in the tragedy left Arras to escape the hatred of their fellow-citizens. Meanwhile the legal proceedings
where he constituted himself a prisoner of the Parlement, and returned to Arras free, to find that, meanwhile, his property had been confiscated and sold. ( Ibid. ch. 24. )
dragged on with the interminable delays for which the Parlement was notorious, enhanced on this occasion by the political vicissitudes of the period, and the final decision was not rendered until 1491, thirty years after its commencement, when all the sufferers had passed off the scene except the indomitable Huguet Aubry, who was still alive to enjoy a rehabilitation celebrated in a manner as imposing as possible. On July 18 the decree was published from a scaffold erected on the spot where the sentences had been pronounced. The magistrates had been ordered to proclaim a holiday, and to offer prizes for the best folie moralisée and pure folie, and to send notice to all the neighboring towns, so that a crowd of eight or nine thousand persons was collected. After a sermon of two hours and a half, preached by the celebrated Geoffroi Broussart, subsequently chancellor of the University, the decree was read, condemning the Duke of Burgundy to pay the costs, and the processes and sentences to be torn and destroyed as unjust and abusive; ordering the accused and condemned to be restored to their good name and fame, all confiscations and payments to be refunded, while the vicars were to pay twelve hundred livres each, Gilles Flameng one thousand, de Saveuse five hundred, and others smaller sums, amounting in all to six thousand five hundred; out of which fifteen hundred were to be applied to founding a daily mass for the souls of those executed, and erecting a cross on the spot where they had been burned. The cruel and unusual tortures made use of in the trials were, moreover, prohibited for the future in all secular and ecclesiastical tribunals. It was probably the only case on record in which an inquisitor stood as a defendant in a lay court to answer for his official action. One cannot help reflecting that, if the Council of Vienne had done its duty as fearlessly as the Parlement, the affair of the Templars, so similar in many of its features, might have had a similar termination; and the contrast between this and the rehabilitation proceedings in the case of Joan of Arc shows how the Inquisition had fallen during the interval. *
* The details of this case have, fortunately, been preserved for us in the Mémoires de Jacques du Clereq, Livre IV., with the decree of Parlement in the appendix. Mathieu de Coussy (Chronique ch. 129) and Cornelius Zantfliet (Martene, Ampl. Coll. V. 501) also give brief accounts. Some details omitted by
Besides the general significance of this transaction in the history of witchcraft and of its persecution, there are several points worthy of attention in their bearing on the practical application of the methods of procedure described above. In the first place, it is evident throughout that no counsel were allowed to the accused. Then, the combined episcopal and inquisitorial court permitted no appeals, even to the Parlement, whose supreme jurisdiction was unquestioned. Not only was the attempt of de Beauffort to interject such an appeal contemptuously suppressed, but when Willaume le Febvre, who had fled to Paris and constituted himself a prisoner there to answer all charges, sent his son Willemet with a notary to serve an appeal, the service was rightly regarded as involving considerable risk. After watching their opportunity, Willemet and the notary served the notice on one of the vicars at church, then leaped on their horses and made all speed for Paris, but the vicars instantly despatched well-mounted horsemen, who overtook them at Montdidier and brought them back. They were clapped in jail, along with a number of friends and kinsmen who had been privy to their intention without betraying it, and were not released until they agreed to withdraw the appeal. Thus, an appeal was treated as an offence justifying vigorous measures. It is more difficult to understand the contemptuous indifference with which a papal bull was treated. Martin Cornille, the other fugitive, had pursued a different policy. He carried with him an ample store of money, part of which he invested in a bull from Pius II. transferring the whole matter to Gilles Charlier and Grégoire Nicolai of Cambrai, and two of the Arras vicars. This was brought to Arras in August, 1460, by the Dean of. Soignies, after which we hear nothing more of it, though it may have contributed to cool the ardor of those who were expecting to profit by the prosecutions. *
The means employed to obtain confession show that Sprenger only recorded the usage of the period in advising recourse to whatever fraud or force might prove necessary. Promises of immunity
du Clercq are to be found in the learned sketch of Duverger, "La Vauderie dans les États de Philippe le Bon," Arras, 1885, which, it is to be hoped, will be followed by the more elaborate work promised by the author.
* Du Clereq, Liv. IV. ch. 10, 11.
or of trifling penance were lavished on those whom it was intended to burn if they yielded to the blandishment, and these were supplemented with threats of burning as the punishment of taciturnity. De Beauffort's confession without torture excited general astonishment until it was known that, on his arrest, after he had sworn to his innocence, Jacques du Boys entreated him to confess, even kneeling before him and praying him to do so, assuring him that if he refused he could not be saved from the stake, and that all his property would be confiscated, to the beggaring of his children, while, if he would confess, he should be released within four days without public humiliation or exposure; and when de Beauffort argued that this would be committing perjury, du Boys told him not to mind that, as he should have absolution. Those whose constancy was proof against such persuasiveness were tortured without stint or mercy. The women were frightfully scourged. Huguet Aubry was kept in prison for eleven months, during which, at intervals, he was tortured fifteen times, and when the ingenuity of the executioners failed in devising more exquisite forms of torment, he was threatened with drowning and thrown into the river, and then with banging and suspended from a tree with his eyes duly bandaged. Le petit Henriot's resolution was tried with seven months' incarceration, during which he was also tortured fifteen times, fire being applied to the soles of his feet until he was crippled for life. Others are mentioned whose endurance was equally tried, and we hear of such strange devices as pouring oil and vinegar down the throat, and other expedients not recognized by law. *
With regard to the death-penalty, it is to be observed that none of these were cases of relapse, and under the old inquisitorial practice they would all have been entitled to the penance of imprisonment. Their burning bad not even the pretext of being punishment for injuries inflicted on their neighbors, for, with the exception of Pierre du Carieulx, the only offence assigned to them was attendance at the Sabbat. At the same time there was no resort to the juggle suggested by later authorities, of assigning penance, and then not inquiring what the secular power might see fit to do. The condemned were formally delivered to the
* Du Clereq, Liv. IV. ch. 14, 15, 28; Append. II.
magistrates to be burned, and though at the first auto a deathsentence was pronounced by the eschevins, at the second even this formality was omitted, and the victims were dragged directly from the place of sentence to that of execution. *
One specially notable feature of the whole affair was the utter incredulity everywhere excited. Just as the crimes imputed to the Templars found credence nowhere out of France, so, outside of Arras, we are told not one person in a thousand believed in the truth of the charges. This was fortunate, for the victims naturally included in their lists of associates many residents of other places, and the conflagration might readily have spread over the whole country, had it found agents like Pierre le Brousart, who carried the spark from Langres to Arras. On the strength of revelations in the confessions several persons were arrested in Amiens, but the bishop, who was a learned clerk and had long resided in Rome, promptly released them and declared that he would dismiss all brought before him, for he did not believe in the possibility of such offences. At Tournay others were seized, and the matter was warmly debated, with the result that they were set free, although Jean Taincture, a most notable clerk, wrote an elaborate treatise to prove their guilt. It was the same with the accused who managed to fly. Martin Cornille was caught in Burgundy and brought before the Archbishop of Besançon, who acquitted him on the strength of informations made in Arras. Willaume le Febvre surrendered himself to the Bishop of Paris; the Inquisitor of Paris came to Arras to get the evidence concerning him, and the vicars furnished the confessions of those who had implicated him. The result was that the tribunal, consisting of the Archbishop of Reims, the Bishop of Paris, the Inquisitor of France, and sundry doctors of theology, not only acquitted him, but authorized him to prosecute the vicars for reparation of his honor, and for expenses and damages.† Evidently up to this time the excitement con-
* Du Clercq, Liv. IV. ch. 4, 8.
† Du Clereq, Liv. IV. ch. 6, 11, 14, 28.--A copy of Jean Taincture's tract is in the Bib. Roy. de Bruxelles, MSS. No. 2296.--About this time Jeannin, a peasant of Inchy, was executed at Cambrai, and at Lille Catharine Patée was condemned as a witch, but escaped with banishment, and the same was the case with Marguerite d'Escornay at Nivelles. One unfortunate, Noel Ferri of Amiens, became insane on the subject, and after wandering over the land, accused himself at
cerning witchcraft was to a great extent artificial--the creation of a comparatively few credulous ecclesiastics and judges: the mass of educated clerks and jurists were disposed to hold fast to the definition of the Cap. Episcopi, and to regard it as a delusion. Had the Church resolutely repressed the growing superstition, in place of stimulating it with all the authority of the Holy See, infinite bloodshed and misery might have been spared to Christendom.
The development of the witchcraft epidemic, in fact, had not been rapid. The earliest detailed account which we have of it is that of Nider, in his Formicarius, written in 1337. Although Nider himself seems to have sometimes acted as inquisitor, he tells us that his information is principally derived from the experience of Peter of Berne, a secular judge, who had burned large numbers of witches of both sexes, and bad driven many more from the Bernese territory, which the had infested for about sixty years. This would place the origin of witchcraft in that region towards the close of the fourteenth century, and Silvester Prierias, as we have seen, attributes it to the first years of the fifteenth. Bernardo di Como, writing about 1510, assigns to it a somewhat earlier origin, for he says the records of the Inquisition of Como showed that it had existed for a hundred and fifty years. It is quite likely, indeed, that the gradual development of witchcraft from ordinary sorcery commenced about the middle of the fourteenth century. The great jurist Bartolo, who died in 1357, when acting as judge at Novara, tried and condemned a woman who confessed to having adored the devil, trampled on the cross, and killed children by touching and fascinating them. This approach to the later witchcraft was so novel to him that he appealed to the theologians to explain it. In this there seems no reference to the distinctive feature of the Sabbat, but the popular beliefs concerning Holda and Dame Habonde and their troop were rife, and the coalescence of the various superstitions was only a question of time. As early as 1353 an allusion to the witches' dance occurs in a trial at Toulouse. Thus the stories grew, under the skilful handling of such
Mantes of belonging to the accursed sect. He was burned August 26, 1460. His wife, whom he had implicated, escaped sharing his fate by an appeal to the Parlement.-- Duverger, La Vauderic dans les États de Philippe le Bon, pp. 52-3, 84.
judges as Peter of Berne, until they assumed the detailed and definite shape that we find in Nider. The latter also acknowledges his obligation to the Inquisitor of Autun, which would indicate that witchcraft was prevalent in Burgundy at a comparatively early period. In 1424 we hear of a witch named Finicella burned in Rome for causing the death of many persons and bewitching many more. According to Peter of Berne, the evil originated with a certain Scavius, who openly boasted of his powers, and always escaped by transforming himself into a mouse, until he was assassinated through a window near which he incautiously sat. His principal disciple was Poppo, who taught Staedelin; the latter fell into the hands of Peter, and, after four vigorous applications of torture, confessed all the secrets of the diabolical sect. The details given are virtually those described above, showing that the subsequent inquisitors who drew their inspiration from Nider were skilled in their work and knew how to extract confessions in accordance with their preconceived notions. There are a few unimportant variants, of course; infants, as already stated, when killed, were boiled down, the soup being used to procure converts by its magic power, while the solid portion was worked up into ointment required for the unholy rites. Apparently, moreover, the theory had not yet established itself that the witch was powerless against officers of public justice, for the latter were held to incur great dangers in the performance of their functions. It was only by the most careful observance of religious duties and the constant use of the sign of the cross that Peter of Berne escaped, and even he once, at the castle of Blankenburg, nearly lost his life when, going up a lofty staircase at night in such baste that he forgot to cross himself, he was precipitated violently to the bottom--manifestly the effect of sorcery, as he subsequently learned by torturing a prisoner. *
Although, in 1452, a witch tried at Provins declared that in all France and Burgundy the total number of witches did not exceed
* Nider Formicar. Lib. v. c. 3, 4, 7.--Grimm's Teutonic Mytbol. III. 1066.-Soldan, Geschichte der Hexenprocesse, Stuttgart, 1843, p. 186.--Bernardi Comensis de Strigis c. 4.--Steph. Infessuræ Diar. Urb. Romæ ann. 1424 (Eccard. Corp. Hist. II. 1874-5).
Peter of Berne's efforts to purify his territory were fruitless, for we hear of witches burned in 1482 at Murten, Canton Berne ( Valerius Anshelm, BernerChronink, Bern, 1884, I, 224).
sixty, no believer contented himself with figures so moderate. In 1453 we hear of an epidemic of witchcraft in Normandy, where the witches were popularly known as Scobaces, from scoba, a broom, in allusion, to their favorite mode of equitation to the Sabbat. The same year occurred the case of Guillaume Edeline, which excited wide astonishment from the character of the culprit, who was a noted doctor of theology and Prior of St. Germain-en-Laye. Madly in love with a noble lady, he sought the aid of sorcery. He doubtless fell victim to some sharper, for on his person was found a compact with Satan, formally drawn up with reciprocal obligations, one of which was that in his sermons he should assert the falsity of the stories told of sorcerers, and this, we are told, greatly increased their number, for the judges were restrained from prosecuting them. Another condition was that he should present himself before Satan whenever required. The methods of his examination must have been sharp, for he confessed that he performed this obligation by striding a broomstick, when he would be at once transported to the Sabbat, where he performed the customary homage of kissing the devil, in the form of a white sheep, under the tail. Prosecuted before Guillaume de Floques, Bishop of Evreux, he persuaded the University of Caen to defend him; but the bishop procuring the support of the University of Paris, he was forced to confess and was convicted. It shows the uncertainty of procedure as yet that he was not burned, but was allowed to abjure, and was penanced with perpetual imprisonment on bread and water. At the auto de fé the inquisitor dwelt upon his former high position and the edification of his teaching, when the unfortunate man burst into tears and begged mercy of God. He was thrown into a basse-fosse at Evreux, where he lingered for four years, showing every sign of contrition, and at last he was found dead in his cell in the attitude of prayer. The epidemic was spreading, for in 1446 several witches were burned in Heidelberg by the inquisitor, and in 1447 another, who passed as their teacher; but there was as yet no uniform practice in such cases, for in this same year, 1447, at Braunsberg, a woman convicted of sorcery was only banished to a distance of two ( Germany) miles, and three securities were required for her in the sum of ten marks. *
* Duverger, La Vauderie dans les États de Philippe le Bon, p. 22.--Anon.
It was probably about this time that the inquisitors of Toulouse were busy with burning the numerous witches of Dauphiné and Gascony, as related by Alonso de Spina, who admired on the walls of the Toulousan Inquisition pictures painted from their confessions, representing the Sabbat, with the votaries adoring, with lighted candles, Satan in the form of a goat. The allusions of Bernardo di Como show that at the same period persecution was busy in Como. In 1456 we hear of two burned at Cologne. They had caused a frost so intense in the month of May that all vegetation was blasted, without hope of recovery. The steward of the archbishop asked one of them to give him an example of her art, when she took a cup of water, and muttering spells over it for the space of a couple of Paternosters, it froze so solidly that the ice could not be broken with a dagger. In this case, at least, the hand of justice had not weakened her power, though why she allowed herself to be burned is not recorded. In 1459 Pius II. called the attention of the Abbot of Tréguier to somewhat similar practices in Britanny, and gave him papal authority for their suppression, showing how vain had been the zeal of Duke Artus III., of whom, at his death in 1457, it was eulogistically declared that he had burned more sorcerers in France, Britanny, and Poitou than any man of his time. *
These incidents will show the growth and spread of the belief throughout Europe, and it must be borne in mind that they are but the indications of much that never attracted public attention or came to be recorded in history. A chance allusion, in a pleading of 1455, shows what was working under the surface in probably every corner of Christendom. In the parish of Torcy (Normandy) there had been for forty years a belief that a family of laborers--Huguenin de la Meu and his dead father before him, and Jeanne his wife--were all sorcerers who killed or sickened many men and beasts. An appeal to the Inquisition would doubtless have ex-
Carthus. de Relig. Orig. c. 25-6 (Martene Ampl. Coll. VI. 57-9).-- Jean Chartier, Hist. de Charles VII. ann. 1453.--Mémoires de Jacques du Clereq, Liv. III. ch. 11.--D'Argentré, I. II. 251.-- Soldan, Gesch. der Hexenprocesse, p. 198.-- Lilienthal , Die Hexenprocesse der beiden Städte Braunsberg, p. 70.
* Alonso de Spina, Fortalic. Fidei, fol. 284.--Bernardi Comens. de Strigiis c. 3.--Chron. Cornel. Zantfliet, ann. 1456 (Martene ampl. coll. V. 491).--Raynald. ann. 1459, No. 30.--Guill. Gruel, Chroniques d'Artus III. (Ed. Buchon, p. 405).
tracted from them confessions of the Sabbat and devil-worship, with lists of accomplices leading to a widespread epidemic, but the simple peasants found a speedier remedy in beating Huguenin and his wife, when the person or animal whom they had bewitched would recover. A certain André suspected them of causing the death of some of his cattle, and Jeanne said to his wife, Alayre, "Your husband has done ill in saying that I killed his cattle, and he will find it so before long." That same day Alayre fell sick and was not expected to survive the night. To curd her André went next morning to Jeanne, and threatened that if she did not restore Alayre he would beat her so that she would never be well again--and Alayre recovered the next day. *
This shows the material which existed everywhere for development into organized persecution when properly handled by the Inquisition, and the Flagellum Hæreticorum Fascinariorum of the Inquisitor, Nicholaus Jaquerius, in 1458, indicates that the Holy Office was beginning to appreciate the necessity of organizing its efforts for systematic work. Perhaps the untoward result of the affair at Arras may have retarded this somewhat by the over-zeal and unscrupulous greed of its manipulators, but if there was a reaction it as limited, both in extent and duration. All the accumulated beliefs in the occult powers of demonic agencies inherited from so many creeds and races still flourished in their integrity. In the existing wretchedness of the peasantry throughout the length and breadth of Europe, recklessness as to the present and hopelessness as to the future led thousands to wish that they could, by transferring their allegiance to Satan, find some momentary relief from the sordid miseries of life. The tales of the sensual delights of the Sabbat, where exquisite meats and drink were furnished in abundance, had an irresistible allurement for those who could scantily reckon on a morsel of black bread, or a turnip or a few beans, to keep starvation at bay. Sprenger, as already stated, tells us that the attraction of intercourse with incubi and succubi was a principal cause of luring souls to ruin. The devastating wars, with bands of écorcheurs and condottieri pillaging everywhere with savage cruelty, reduced whole populations to despair, and those who fancied themselves abandoned by God might well
* Da Cange, s. v. Sortiarius.
turn to Satan for help. According to Sprenger, a prolific source of witches was the seduction of young girls who when refused marriage had nothing more to hope for, and sought to avenge themselves on society by acquiring at least the power of evil. * Not only thus was there on the part of many a desire to enter the abhorred sect of Satan-worshippers, which the Church declared to be so numerous and powerful, but doubtless not a few performed the ceremonies to effect it, when perhaps some evil wish which chanced to be realized would convince them that Satan had really accepted their allegiance, and granted them the power which they sought. Certain minds might, in moments of high-wrought exaltation, even imagine that they had obtained admission to the foul mysteries whose reality was rapidly becoming an article of orthodox belief. Others again, in weakness and poverty, found that the reputation of possessing the power of evil was a protection and a support, and they encouraged rather than repressed the credulity of their neighbors. To these must be added the multitudes who derived a source of gain from curing the sorcery which the Church was confessedly unable to relieve, and there was ample material in the despised and lower stratum of society for the innumerable army of witches conjured up by the heated imaginations of the demonographers.
Unfortunately the Church, in its alarm at the development of this new heresy, stimulated it to the utmost in the endeavor to repress it. Every inquisitor whom it commissioned to suppress witchcraft was an active missionary who scattered the seeds of the belief ever more widely. We have seen what a brood of witches Pierre le Brousart hatched at Arras out of the single one burned at Langres, and how Chiabaudi succeeded in infecting the valleys of the Canavese. It mattered little in the end that le Brousart overreached himself and that Chiabaudi was outwrangled. The minds of the people became more and more familiarized with the idea that witches were everywhere around them, and that every misfortune and accident was the result of their malignity. Every man was thus assiduously taught, when he lost an ox or a child, or a harvest, or was suddenly prostrated with illness, to suspect his neighbors and look for evidence to confirm his suspicions, so that
* Mall. Malef. P. I. Q. i. c. 1.
wherever an inquisitor passed he was overwhelmed with accusations against all who could be imagined to be guilty, from children of tender years to superannuated crones. When Girolamo Visconti was sent to Como he speedily raised such a storm of witchcraft that in 1485 he burned no less than forty-one unfortunates in the little district of Wormserbad in the Grisons--an exploit repeatedly referred to by Sprenger with honest professional pride. *
A special impulse was given to this development when Innocent VIII., December 5, 1404, issued his Bull Summis desiderantes, in which he bewailed the deplorable fact that all the Teutonic lands were filled with men and women who exercised upon the faithful all the malignant power which we have seen ascribed to witchcraft, and of which he enumerates the details with awe-inspiring amplification. Henry Institoris and Jacob Sprenger had for some time been performing the office of inquisitors in those regions, but their commissions did not specially mention sorcery as included in their jurisdiction, wherefore their efforts were impeded by overwise clerks and laymen who used this as an excuse for protecting the guilty. Innocent therefore gives them full authority in the premises and orders the Bishop of Strassburg to coerce all who obstruct or interfere with them, calling in, if necessary, the aid of the secular arm. After this, to question the reality of witchcraft was to question the utterance of the Vicar of Christ, and to aid any one accused was to impede the Inquisition. Armed with these powers the two inquisitors, full of zeal, traversed the land, leaving behind them a track of blood and fire, and awakening in all hearts the cruel dread inspired by the absolute belief thus inculcated in all the horrors of witchcraft. In the little town of Ravenspurg alone they boast that they burned forty-eight in five years.†
It is true that they were not everywhere so successful. In the
* Mall. Malef. P. I. Q. xi.; P. II. Q. i. c. 4, 12; P. III. Q. 15.
† Mall. Malef. P. II. Q. i. c. 4.
Innocent's bull was not confined to Germany alone, but was operative everywhere. In an Italian inquisitorial manual of the period it is included in a collection of bulls "contra hereticam pravitatem," which also contains a letter on the subject from the future Emperor Maximilian, dated Brussels, November 6, 1486.-- Molinier, Études sur quelques MSS. des Bibliothèques d'Italie, Paris, 1887, p. 72.
Tyrol the Bishop of Brixen published Innocent's bull July 23, 1485, and on September 21 he issued to the inquisitor Henry Institoris a commission granting him full episcopal jurisdiction, but recommending him to associate with him a secular official of the suzerain, Sigismund of Austria. The latter, however, ordered the bishop to appoint a commissioner, and he named Sigismund Samer, pastor of Axams near Innsbruck. The pair commenced operations October 14, but their career, though vigorous, was short and inglorious. It chanced that some of the archduke's courtiers desired to separate him from his wife, Catharine of Saxony, and spread reports that she had endeavored to poison him; and they followed this up by placing in an oven a worthless woman who personated an imprisoned demon and denounced a number of people. Institoris at once seized the accused and applied torture without stint. Then the bishop interposed, and by the middle of November ordered him to leave the diocese and betake himself to his convent, the sooner the better. Institoris, however, was loath to abandon his duty, and drew upon himself a sharper reproof on Ash Wednesday, 1486; he was told that he had nought to do there, that the bishop would attend to all that was necessary through the exercise of the ordinary jurisdiction, and he was warned that if he persisted in remaining he was in danger of assassination from the husbands or kinsmen of the women whom he was persecuting. He finally withdrew to Germany, richly rewarded for his labor by Sigismund, and from his account of the matter it is easy to see that all the sick and withered of Innsbruck had flocked to him with complaints of their neighbors so detailed that he was justified in regarding the place as thoroughly infected. The next year the Tyrolese Landtag, complained to the archduke that recently many persons, on baseless denunciations, had been imprisoned, tortured, and disgracefully treated, and we can readily understand the complaint of the Malleus Maleficarum that Innsbruck abounded in witches of the most dangerous character, who could bewitch their judges and could not be forced to confess. Still, the seeds of superstition were scattered to fructify in due time. Although in the Tyrolese criminal ordinance issued by Maximilian I., in 1499, there is no allusion to sorcery and witchcraft, yet in 1506 we find the craze fully developed. Some records which have been preserved show trials before secular judges with juries of twelve men, in which the unfortunate women accused, after due torture, confess all the customary horrors. *
One result of this campaign of Institoris in the Tyrol was that it left Sigismund of Austria in a condition of perplexity as to the reality of witchcraft. His judges had apparently been inexperienced in such matters, the confessions of the accused had varied greatly, and the inquisition had been cut short before they could be forced to consentaneous avowals. To satisfy his mind, in 1487, he consulted on the subject two learned doctors of the law, Ulric Molitoris and Conrad Stürtzel, and the result was published at Constance in 1489 by Ulric, in the form of a discussion between the three. Sigismund is represented as urging the natural argument that the results obtained by witchcraft were so wofully inadequate to the powers ascribed to it as to cast doubt upon the reality of those powers--if they were real, a conqueror would only have, like William the Manzer at Ely, to put a witch at the head of his army to overcome all opposition. Against this view the customary texts and citations were alleged, and the conclusions reached represent very fairly the moderate opinions of the conservatives, who had not as yet yielded fully to the witchcraft craze, but who shrank from a rationalistic denial of that which had been handed down by the wisdom of ages. These are summed up in eight propositions: 1. Satan cannot himself, or by means of human instruments, disturb the elements, or injure men and animals, or render them impotent, but God sometimes permits him to do so to a certain determinate extent. 2. He cannot exceed this designated limit. 3. By permission of God he can sometimes cause illusions by which men appear to be transformed. 4. The night-riding and assemblages of the Sabbat are illusions. 5. Incubi and succubi are incapable of procreation. 6. God alone knows the future and the thoughts of men; the devil can only conjecture and use his knowledge of the stars. 7. Nevertheless witches, by worshipping and sacrificing to Satan, are real heretics and apostates. 8. Finally, they should therefore be put to death. In this cautious endeavor to harmonize the old school and the new, the witch thus gained nothing; everything was conceded that had
* Rapp, Die Hexenprocesse und ihre Gegner aus Tirol, pp. 5-8, 12-13, 143 sqq.--Mall. Maleficar. P. II. Q. 1, c. 12; P. III. Q. 15.
a practical bearing on the tribunals, and it was a mere matter of speculation whether the Sabbat was a dream or a reality, and whether the evil she wrought was the result of a special or a general concession of power by God to Satan. Thus the work of Molitoris is important as showing how feeble were the barriers which intelligent and fair-minded men could erect against the prevailing tendencies so sedulously fostered by popes and inquisitors. *
The fine-drawn distinctions of such men were quickly brushed aside by the aggressive self-confidence of the inquisitors. Even more potent than the personal activity of Sprenger was the legacy which he left behind him in the work which he proudly entitled the Malleus Maleficarum, or Hammer of Witches, the most portentous monument of superstition which the world has produced. All his vast experience and wide erudition are brought to the task of proving the reality of witchcraft and the extent of its evils, and, further, of instructing the inquisitor how to elude the wiles of Satan and to punish his devotees. He was no vulgar witch-finder, but a man trained in all the learning of the schools. He apparently was not inhumane. In many places he manifests a laudable desire to give the accused the benefit of whatever pleas they might rightfully put forward, but he is so fully convinced of the gigantic character of the evils to be combated, he so thoroughly believes that his tribunal is engaged in a contest with Satan for human souls, that he eagerly justifies every artifice and every cruelty that could be suggested to outwit the adversary, on whom fair play would be thrown away. Like Conrad of Marburg and Capistrano, he was a man of the most dangerous type, an honest fanatic. His work is, moreover, an inexhaustible storehouse of marvels to which successive generations resorted whenever evi-
* Molitoris Dial. de Pythonicis Mulieribus c. 1, 10.
The absurd contrast between the illimitable powers ascribed to the witch and her personal wretchedness was explained under torture by the victims as the result of the faithlessness of Satan, who desired to keep them in poverty. When steeped in misery he would appear to them and allure them into his service by the most attractive promises, but when he had attained his end those promises were never kept. Gold given to them would always disappear before it could be used. As one of the Tyrolese witches in 1506 declared, "The devil is a Schalk (knave)." ( Rapp, Die Hexenprocesse und ihre Gegner aus Tirol, p. 147.)
dence was needed to prove any special manifestation of the power or malignity of the witch. Told as the results of his own experience or that of his colleagues, with the utmost good faith, they carried conviction with them. In fact, but for the delusive character of human testimony in such matters, the evidence would seem to be overwhelming. Statements of disinterested eye-witnesses, complaints of sufferers, confessions of the guilty, even after condemnation, and at the stake, when there was no hope save of pardon of their sins by God, are innumerable, and so detailed and connected together that the most fertile imagination would seem inadequate to their invention. Besides, the work is so logical in form, according to the fashion of the time, and so firmly based on scholastic theology and canon law, that we cannot wonder at the position accorded to it for more than a century of a leading authority on a subject of the highest practical importance. Quoted implicitly by all succeeding writers, it did more than all other agencies, save the papal bulls, to stimulate and perfect the persecution, and consequently the extension of witchcraft. *
Thus the Inquisition in its decrepitude had a temporary resumption of activity, before the Reformation came to renew its vigor in a different shape. Yet it was not everywhere allowed to work its will upon this new class of heretics. In France edicts of 1490 and 1493 treat them as subject exclusively to the secular courts, unless the offenders happen to be justiciable by the ecclesiastical tribunals, and no allusion whatever is made to the Inquisition. At the same time the growing sharpness of persecution is seen in provisions which subject those who consult necromancers and sorcerers to the same penalties as the practitioners themselves, and threaten judges who are negligent in arresting them with loss
* Diefenbach, the latest writer on witchcraft ( Die Hexenwahn, Mainz, 1886). sees clearly enough that the witch-madness was the result of the means adopted for the suppression of witchcraft, but in his eagerness to relieve the Church from the responsibility he attributes its origin to the Carolina, or criminal code of Charles V., issued in 1531, and expressly asserts that ecclesiastical law had nothing to do with it (p. 176). Other recent writers ascribe the horrors of the witchprocess to the bull of Innocent VIII., and the Malleus Maleficarum (Ib. pp. 222-6). We have been able to trace, however, the definite development of the madness and the means adopted for its cure from the beliefs and the practice of preceding ages. It was, as we have seen, a process of purely natural evolution from the principles which the Church had succeeded in establishing.
of office, perpetual disability, and heavy arbitrary fines. It was doubtless owing to this exclusion of spiritual jurisdiction over sorcery that the spread of witchcraft in France was slower than in Germany and Italy. *
Cornelius Agrippa, whose learned treatises on the occult sciences trench so nearly on forbidden ground, when he held the position of Town Orator and Advocate of Metz, had the hardihood, in 1519, to save from the clutches of the inquisitor, Nicholas Savin, an unfortunate woman accused of witchcraft. The only evidence against her was that her mother had been burned as a witch. Savin quoted the "Malleus Maleficarum" to show that if she were not the offspring of an incubus she must undoubtedly have been devoted to Satan at her birth. In conjunction with the episcopal official, John Leonard, he had her cruelly tortured, and she was then exposed to starvation in her prison. When Agrippa offered to defend her he was turned out of court and threatened with prosecution as a fautor of heresy, and her husband was refused access to the place of trial, lest he should interject an appeal. Leonard chanced to fall mortally sick, and, touched with remorse on his death-bed, he executed an instrument declaring his conviction of her innocence and asked the chapter to set her at liberty; but Savin demanded that she should be further tortured and then burned. Agrippa, however, labored so effectually with Leonard's successor and with the chapter that the woman was discharged; but his disinterested zeal cost him his office, and he was obliged to leave Metz. Relieved of his presence, the inquisitor speedily found another witch, whom he burned after forcing her by torture to confess all the horrors of the Sabbat and customary evil deeds wrought through the power of Satan. Encouraged by this, he organized a search for others, doubtless based on the confessions of the victim, and imprisoned a number, while others fled, and there would have been a pitiless massacre had not Roger Brennon, parish priest of St. Cross, openly opposed him and vanquished him in disputation, whereupon the jail doors were thrown open and the fugitives returned.†
* Fontanon, Edicts et Ordonnances, IV. 237.-- Isambert, XI. 190, 253.
† Cornel. Agrippa de Occult. Philos. Lib. I. c. 40; Lib. III. c. 33; Epistt. II. 38, 39, 40, 59; De Vanitate Scientiarum c. xcvi. III.--35
The most decided rebuff, however, which the Inquisition experienced in its new sphere of activity was administered by Venice. I have had occasion more than once to allude to the controversy between the Signory and the Holy See over the witches of Brescia, when the Republic definitely refused to execute the sentences of the inquisitors. To understand the full significance of its action, it is to be observed that for two generations the Church had been energetically cultivating witchcraft throughout Lombardy by unceasingly urging its persecution and breaking down all resistance on the part of the intelligent laity, until it had succeeded in rendering upper Italy a perfect hot-bed of the heresy. In 1457 Calixtus III. ordered his nuncio, Bernardo di Bosco, to use active measures in repressing its growth in Brescia, Bergamo, and the vicinage. Thirty years later Frà Girolamo Visconti found an abundant field for his labor in Como, the result of which he communicated to the world in his Lamiarum Tractatus, and Sprenger assures us that a whole book would be required to record the cases, in Brescia alone, of women who had become witches through despair in consequence of seduction, although the episcopal court had shown the most praiseworthy vigor in suppressing them. In 1494 we find Alexander VI. stimulating the Lombard inquisitor, Frà Angelo da Verona, to greater activity, assuring him that witches were numerous in Lombardy and inflicted great damage on men, harvests, and cattle. When at Cremona, in the early years of the sixteenth century, the inquisitor, Giorgio di Casale, endeavored to exterminate the numberless witches flourishing there, and was interfered with by certain clerks and laymen, who asserted that he was exceeding his jurisdiction, Julius II., following the example of Innocent VIII. in the case of Sprenger, promptly came to the rescue by defining his powers, and offering to all who would aid him in the good work indulgences such as were given to crusaders--provisions which, in 1523, were extended to the Inquisitor of Como by Adrian, VI. The result of all this careful stimulation is seen in the description of the Lombard witches by Gianfrancesco Pico, and in the alarming report by Silvester Prierias that they were extending down the Apennines and boasting that they would outnumber the faithful. The spread of popular belief is illustrated in the remark of Politian, that when he was a child he had great dread of the witches whom his grandmother used to tell him lie in wait in the woods to swallow little boys. *
Venice had always been careful to preserve the secular jurisdiction over sorcery. A resolution of the great council in 1410 allows the Inquisition to act in such cases when they involve heresy or the abuse of sacraments, but if injury had resulted to individuals the spiritual offence alone was cognizable by the Inquisition, while the resultant crimes were justiciable by the lay court; and when, in 1422, some Franciscans were charged with sacrificing to demons, the Council of Ten committed the affair to a councillor, a, capo, an inquisitor, and an advocate. Brescia was a spot peculiarly infected with witchcraft. As early as 1455 the inquisitor, Frà Antonio, called upon the Senate for aid to exterminate it, which was presumably afforded, but when a fresh persecution arose in 1486 the podestà refused to execute the inquisitorial sentences, and the Signoria supported him, calling forth, as we have seen, the vigorous protest of Innocent VIII. Under the stimulus of persecution the evil increased with terrible rapidity. In 1510 we hear of seventy women and seventy men burned at Brescia; in 1514 of three hundred at Como. In such an epidemic every victim was a new source of infection, and the land was threatened with depopulation. In the madness of the hour it was currently reported that on the plain of Tonale, near Brescia, the customary gathering at the Sabbat exceeded twenty-five thousand souls; and in 1518 the Senate was officially informed that the inquisitor had burned seventy witches of the Valcamonica, that he had as many in his prisons, and that those suspected or accused amounted to about five thousand, or one fourth of the inhabitants of the valleys. It was time to interfere, and the Signoria interposed effectually, leading to violent remonstrances from Rome. Leo X. issued, February 15, 1521, his fiery bull, Honestis, ordering the inquisitors to use freely the excommunication and the interdict, if their sentences on the witches were not executed without examination or revision, showing how transparent were the subterfuges adopted to throw
* Raynald. ann. 1457, No. 90.-- P. Vayra, Le Streghe nel Canavese, op. cit. p. 250.--Mall. Maleficar. P. II. Q. i. c. 1, 12.-- Ripoll IV. 190.-- Pegnæ Append. ad Eymeric. p. 105.-- G. F. Pico, La Strega, p. 17.-- Prieriat. de Strigima. Lib. II. c. 1, 5.-- Ang. Politian. Lamia, Colon. 1518.
upon the secular courts the responsibility of putting to death those who were not relapsed. On March 21 the imperturbable Council of Ten quietly responded by laying down regulations for all trials, including the cases in question, of which the sentences were treated as invalid, and all bail heretofore taken was to be discharged. The examinations were to be made without the use of torture by one or two bishops, an inquisitor, and two doctors of Brescia, all selected for probity and intelligence. The result was to be read in the court of the podestà, with the participation of the two rettori, or governors, and four more doctors. The accused were to be asked if they ratified their statements, and were to be liable to torture if they modified them. When all this was done with due circumspection, judgment was to be rendered in accordance with the counsel of all the above-named experts, and under no other circumstances was a sentence to be executed. In this way the Signoria hoped that the errors said to have been committed would be avoided for the future. Moreover, the papal legate was to be admonished to see that the expenses of the Inquisition were moderate and free from extortion, and was to find expedients to prevent greed for money from causing the condemnation of the innocent, as was said to have often been the case. He should also depute proper persons to investigate the extortions and other evil acts of the inquisitors, which had excited general complaint, and he should summarily punish the perpetrators to serve as an example. He was further requested to consider that these poor people of Valcamonica were simple folk of the densest ignorance, much more in need of good preachers than of persecutors, especially as they were so numerous. *
In an age of superstition this utterance of the Council of Ten stands forth as a monument of considerate wisdom and calm common-sense. Had its enlightened spirit been allowed to guide the counsels of popes and princes, Europe would have been spared the most disgraceful page in the annals of civilization. The lesson of cruel fear so sedulously inculcated on the nations was thoroughly learned. Hideous as are the details of the persecution of witchcraft which we have been considering up to the fifteenth century,
* G. de Castro, Mondo Secreto, IX. 128, 133, 135-6.-- Mag. Bull. Rom. I. 440, 617.--Archiv. di Venezia, Misti, Concil. X., Vol. 44, p. 7.
they were but the prelude to the blind and senseless orgies of destruction which disgraced the next century and a half. Christendom seemed to have grown delirious, and Satan might well smile at the tribute to his power seen in the endless smoke of the holocausts which bore witness to his triumph over the Almighty. Protestant and Catholic rivalled each other in the madness of the hour. Witches were burned no longer in ones and twos, but in scores and hundreds. A bishop of Geneva is said to have burned five hundred within three months, a bishop of Bamburg six hundred, a bishop of Würzburg nine hundred. Eight hundred were condemned, apparently in one body, by the Senate of Savoy. So completely had the intervention of Satan, through the instrumentality of his worshippers, become a part of the unconscious process of thought, that any unusual operation of nature was attributed to them as a matter of course. The spring of 1586 was tardy in the Rhinelands and the cold was prolonged until June: this could only be the result of witchcraft, and the Archbishop of Trèves burned at Pfalz a hundred and eighteen women and two men, from whom confessions had been extorted that their incantations had prolonged the winter. It was well that he acted thus promptly, for on their way to the place of execution they stated that had they been allowed three days more they would have brought cold so intense that no green thing could have survived, and that all fields and vineyards would have been cursed with barrenness. The Inquisition evidently had worthy pupils, but it did not relax its own efforts. Paramo boasts that in a century and a half from the commencement of the sect, in 1404, the Holy Office had burned at least thirty thousand witches who, if they had been left unpunished, would easily have brought the whole world to destruction. * Could any Manichæan offer more practical evidence that Satan was lord of the visible universe?
* Michelet, La Sorcière, Liv. II. ch. iii.-- P. Vayra, op. cit. p. 255.--Annal. Novesiens. ann. 1586 (Martene Ampl. Coll. IV. 717).--Paramo de Orig. Off. S. Inquis. p. 296.
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