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nests, and milk and butter, no mercy should be shown ;
I would burn them myself : as we read in the law that the
priests began to stone the evil-doers.' ^

> Walch, Luthers Werke, iii. 1715. Collected Works, x. 359-360, and
xlv. 184. See Luther und das Zaitberwesen, 901-903.

- Ibid. 117. Luther's Collected Works, Ix. 77-78.

^ Lauterbach, 121. Luther's Collected Works, Ix. 78. ** The manner
in which Riezler(p. 127 ff.) reconciles himself to Luther's attitude towards
the witch-superstition is characteristic of his method of writing history :
' It is one of the saddest features in German development that Protes-
tantism should have taken over this legacy of the Roman Church in its full
scope, that in its opposition to Romish abuses it did not include this most
crying of all abuses, and that the Christian sects, who otherwise fought
each other tooth and nail, in this department of dogma (?) stood in
disastrous unison, and vied with each other in witch-persecution. In this
respect the moment of the papal action in favour of the witch-superstition
was extremely infelicitous. Had the pa])al Hull gone forth three, four
decades later, Lutlier might perhaps, on the ground of its i)apal origin,
have shown some mistrust of the decision (!). Ak it was ho dragged about
with him from his earliest youth the fetters of his thought. Let those who

274 HisTom" OF riiK German people

ijUllu'r't; t)})iiii«.)ns and toaehiiig about the devil and
his activity were shared by his disciples and successors. ^

reject the instructional and practical significance of history, ask themselves
nt any rate the question, whether Luther and tlie refoi'mcrs would have
taken up the same position as regards the witch -superstition, if they had
cliarly seen how much in this creation of their deadly enemies proceeded
from the papal inquisitors and the schoolmen (!) Without knowing or
wishiui; it. the former Augustinian monk Luther sees constantly here
through tiie spectacles of his most inveterate foes, the Dominicans.' How
deeply Luther's attituile in this matter is rooted in his whole mental
tendency and philosophy of life is not recognised in Riezler's argument.
Meanwhile he (Riczler) is compelled to make the following acknowledg-
ment (p. 128) : ' The zealous reformer who himself coined the word
" aberglaubisch " (superstitious) was in this respect no less superstitious
than a papal inquisitor ; the man with the demoniacal glance, as Aleander
calls him. himself saw every wlierc tlie interference of demons and thus gave
a might}' impulse to the persecution of witches. And whereas each one
of the three Christian confessions made it a point of honour not to be behind
one another in zeal for persecution of witches,, and the destruction of the
devil's kingdom on earth, the result of the split in the Church was that
witch-trials went to greater extremes in Germany than in countries that
had remained wholly Catholic' Further, ' Unfounded as is the charge that
the Protestants surpassed the Catholics in these atrocities, justice never-
theless demands that we should draw attention to two facts. Luther's
catechism, in its exposition of the first commandment of God, deals in a
special, though not in an exhaustive manner, with the aim and the results
of the demoniacal compact, whereas the large Roman catechism compiled
after the conclusion of the Council of Trent, as well as the smaller one by
Canisius intended for the people, do not make special mention of witch-
craft, but only imphcitly include it under the general term of heresy. And
while on the Catholic side the Jesuits (as opposed to the secular priesthood,
i.e. pastors of souls) would seem to have done very little to urge on the
cause of witch-persecution, this uncanny activity can be brought
home much more frequently to the Lutheran preachers. In the
CalvinLstic Church ultimately witch-persecution for its extent and brutality
cannot be surpassed.' Hence, after all, tlie palm is carried off by the

• ** Respecting belief in the devil Melanchthon fully agreed with Luther.
See Hartfelder, ' Der Aberglaube Ph. Melanchthons,' in Histor. Taschenbuch,
1889, p. 252 S. The same may be said of all the other innovators. When
in 1574 the preacher of Arfeld in the County Wittgenstein asked the Protest-
ant Heidelberg professor Zanchi whether witches should be burnt, the
latter answeied on October 22 : ' Most certainly, " Si blasphemi in Deum


Thus, for instance, preached Luther's friend and some
time house companion, John Mathesius : ' The devil

et apostatae a recepta religione capitaliter semper fucrunt pimiti, tarn
apud Gentiles, ex lege naturae, quam apud ludaeos, ex lege Dei, cur non
sagae atque uialeficae istae ? , . , Dubium non est, quin ct lege natui'ae
capitaliter animadvertendum sit in istud abominandorum et Diabolo con-
secratorum hominum genus . . . Neque Geneoae, ubi in talia monstra
severiter animadvcrtitwr, aliter fit. Sententiam habes meam quam et cum
S. litteris et cum legibus piorum Imperatorum et cum bonarum Ecclesi-
arum consuetudine consentaneam esse scio, eoque verissimam esse non
dubito." ' Zanchi gave precisely the same answer to a doctor named
Thomas Erastus : ' Si id hominum genus tollendum non sit e medio, cur
tollitur adulter ? ' See Paulus in the Katholik, 1901, i. 210-211. When
Hartmann-Jager {Brenz, ii. 491) say of their hero, ' We must allow that,
if not altogether lifted above his age, he had nevertheless more correct views
(about witches) than most of his contemporary brothers in office and
associates,' they contradict Brenz's own writings; cf. Opera Brentii, i.
(Tubingae, 1576), 676 : ' Sunt qui putant iniquum esse, ut malefici et male-
ficae morte condemnentur. Sentiunt enim maleficia esse vanas phantasias
hominum et non rerum veritates, ac tanquam somnia esse iudicanda.
Quis autem propter somnia morte punitur ? ' (Thus Weyei, who began a
correspondence with Brenz.) ' Resp. : Verum quidem est, quod homo non
possit sua virtute alteri maleficiis nocere ; veium etiam est, quod Sathan
coerceatm- divinitus, ut nee ipse, nisi Deo permittente, possit homini nocu-
mentum inferre, aut spectrum obiicere. Certum autem et illud est, quod
Deus nonnunquam conniveat ad potestatem Sathanae, ut per hominem sibi
idoneum multa mala in orbe exei'ceat . . . Sic fieri potest, ut Sathan
sciens futuram grandinem excitet veneficam, quae suis incantationibus
conetur ciere tempestatem et perdere fruges. Etsi autem veneficia per so
niliil efficiunt, tamen quia in venefica est perfectus conatus malefaciendi,
idcirco leges non iniiiste cvndemnani veneficas morte, sicut et latrones et in-
cendiarios et homicidas.'' From the commentary on Exodus, concionibus
publicis in Ecclesia Stutgardiensi explic. an 1557. Cf. Centuria Epistolnr.
ad Schwebelium (Bipontinae, 1597), pp. 308-314. A memorandum of the
Strasbiu-g preachers (Bucer, Capito, Hedio) of April 6, 1338, to Schwebel :
ludicium de sagis et veneficis puniendis. ' In omnibus rebus scqui
oportet verbum Dei. Istud iubet receptis ]egil)U3 parere. Leges iubent
plecti COS, qui malis artibus et daemonum illusionibus so dedunt.' ' Hae
leges ratae sunt in Imperio ct respondent legi divinae (Exod. 22) . . . leges
capitale fecerunt ipsum comraercium cum daemonibus. . . . Proinde lego
hac tcnentur, qui ad artes istas se conferunt. . • . Principes itaque, qui
non suum, sed Domini iudicium iudicant, legem etiam Domini scqui
debcnt.' Still one must proceed circumspectly. The lawyers know

T 2


iiu-aniato bowitclios, maims and othorwise injures
numbers of people, so that they no longer resemble
hiunan beings.' • 'Every day one hears of gruesome
deeds,' said Andrew Althamer in 1532, * which the devil
has done ; now thousands liave been struck dead, now
a ship has gone down with all hands, now a piece of land
sinks in, now a town, now a village ; one man stabs,
another hangs, another drowns himself, another cuts his
throat, and so on. All these calamities are brought
about by the devil. He is hostile towards us, and
therefore he takes our lives. He kills not only human
beings but also cattle, besides which by hail, dearness,
pestilence, war, treachery, sedition, &c., he destroys
everything necessary to man's existence.' * He plagues
and torments mankind within and without. If God
did not oppose the devil, no one of us would be able to

* multas vetulas levitate vxilgi hoc crimine falso infamari ; ncque adeo
tormentis inquirendum ad cuiusvis delationem, nisi argumentis non dubiis
obnoxia aliqua ei amentiae apparuerit.' So the Stiasburg preachers are
not altogether against witch-triaLs. In spite of this Rohrich [Gesch. der
Reformation in Elsass, iii. 127) wTites : ' In the second half of the sixteenth
century witches were again burnt at Strasburg, whereas since the beginning
of the improvement in the Church this had not happened any more, and
Bucer had raised his voice strongly against such judicial murders.^
(Rohrich quotes in the Centuria Schweb. p. 308.) A. Erichson {Martin
Butzer, der elsassische Reformator, Strasburg, 1891, p. 26) wTites : ' Martin
Bucer, if we beUeve reliable historians (Vierordt, Gesch. der evnng. Kirche
in Baden, ii. 122), was one of the most decided opponents of witch trials,
that curse of Christendom.' Vierordt does not cite any source, he evidently
has Rohrich in mind ; of. Paulus in the Diozesan-Archiv von Schwaben-,
1897, No. 6. Brenz also said in a printed sermon on hail : ' Witches cannot
make hail or thunderstorms or any like hurtful things, but when the devil,
with God's permission, has produced such things, they imagine that
they have done it ; and on account of this wicked opinion, on account
of this inward league with the devil, they deserve, according to the
CaroUna, to be punished with death.' Binz, Joh. Weyer, 2nd. ed. p.
77 ff.

' Bergpostille, 184.


stand upright ; we should long ago have been maimed
in all our Hmbs/ ^

Still more strongly on the subject spoke the preacher
Jodokus Hocker. Like every kind of disease and every-
thing that was bad, so all immorahty and profligacy,
all thieving and robbery, all usury and financing, all
drunkenness and gormandising came from the devil.
' In addition to this the devil is able to set fire to and
poison the air, so that towns, country and people are
destroyed by pestilence and other poisonous diseases.
Item, when a fire breaks out, so that one or two houses
are burned down, that is a work of the devil incarnate,
who always stands by and blows the flames so that they
may spread further and further. That ten, twenty,
thirty, and even a hundred people die of the pestilence
in one day, that sometimes whole towns are destroyed by
fire ; all that is all the work of the devil, who sends
out his poisonous arrows, his leaden bullets and spears,
namely, pestilence, glanders, fire and all sorts of dis-
aster.' ' We ought always to wish that we were dead.
Here, we are in the devil's kingdom, in the world where
the devil is lord, and has the hearts of men in his power,
so that he works through them as he wills. It is
terrible, when one sees it clearly, but nevertheless it is
true.' 3

In hke manner preached Hermann Straccus, pastor
at Christenberg, in 1568. He told the people that the
devil was ' a god and a powerful prince of this sinful, evil

' Eyn Predig von dem Tenffel. das er alles Ungl'dck in der Well anrichte
(1532), Bl. A''. B. ** An amusing devil's tale, told of a servant in Witten-
berg, will be found in Christopher Sangner, a student there, in a letter of
January 21, 1537, to Magister Stephen Roth at Zwickau ; in Buclnvald,
Ziur Wittenherger SUtdl- und TJniversitdlsgesrhichte, p. 125 fl.

- ' Der Teufel selbs,' in the Theatrum Diabolorum, i., i''. 22-23, 33.


ami cornipt world.' ' Tliosc murderors and destroyers
toai'li the arts of hewitehing and shooting people, and
l)v their e\il sj)iiits tliev make hail, thunder, ice,
storms,' ' they have a great deal to do witli the nixies
and changelings, they give philtres, they compel human
beings to run hither anil thither, day and night, wherever
they please to send them.' * They ride on forks,
animals, sticks, brooms, travel through the air, change
themselves into human beings or animals.' ' When the
devil gets power over an innocent cliild, he paralyses
its nerves, and ties its tongue, throws it up and down,
torments and plagues it till he has killed it," as many
parents know to their bitter grief,' and so fortli.^

In a book entitled ' Unterrichtung von des Teufcls
Tyrannei, Macht und Gewalt, sonderhch in diesen letzten
Tagen,' which ran through many editions,- Andrew
Musculus spoke out frankly his opinion that ' in no
country did the devil exercise his tyranny so strongly
as in Germany. There is such a multitude of evil
spirits that as many as six or seven thousand will enter
into one human being ' ; ' it is indeed very presumable
that evil spirits are not to be found anywhere else in
the world, but that they have all been dumped down
in Germany.' ^

All mysterious phenomena in nature and in human
life were attributed to demoniacal influences, explained
by ' co-operation with the devil.' A mass of devil's
literature sprang up by which the mind of the populace
was turned towards the Satanic, and for countless

' ' Der Pestilenzteufel,' in the Theairum Diabolorum, ii. 285-286.
(Joedeke, ii. 480, No. 3 (156L Erfurt; 1561, Worms; 1563,
Frankfort, &c.).

^ Theairum Diabolorum, i. 101, 102.


numbers of people Satan became, their whole hves
through, the dominant idea. Germany was completely
deluged with popular writings, great and small, full
of stories and reports of the different doings of the
devil : tales of possession and exorcism, of leagues with
the devil, of diabohcal events in different parts of the
empire, of ghosts and spectres of all sorts, as well
as of bodily apparitions of the devil, who not only
showed himself in secret to witches, but also openly to
men and women, especially to those of high standing
and great learning, princes, theologians and state officials. ^

As in popular hterature, so, too, in the fine arts
and on the stage the devil came to play a very important

Closely connected with the devil's literature were
the innumerable writings on magic and marvels, spread
broadcast over the land, sibyl-books, dream-books,
planet-books, soothsaying-books, * herbals and animal-
books ' predicting the future ; ' forecasts and prognosti-
cations ' with terrible prophesyings ; writings on every
imaginable occult art ; ' magic spells and signs against
the devil, against witchcraft, drowning and burning ' ;
instructions on ' spirit seals ' and charms for warding off
evil spirits and sorcerers and so forth.' ^

In the acts of the witch-trials we find not seldom
mention of the writings on magic which the sorceress
possessed. A ' Prockelsberggedicht ' which had been

' See our fuller statements, vol. xii. 313 ff. ; concerning the connexion
between the belief in ghosts and the witch-superstition, see Horst, Z««^('r-
hibliothek, ii. 30o-32(>; ** and also Osborn, Die Tcufdlikratur des \Gtc7i
Juhrhiinderls, ik-rlin, 1893.

- Fuller details in vol. xi. 21G-222 ; vol. xii. 123-137.

=' Fuller details in vol. xii. 278 ff. See Diefcnbach, 247 IT. ** See also
Dietenbach, Der Zanbergl'iube dps MSten Jahrhundrrl.s, p. 13!) IT.


widely circulated since the beginning of the seventeenth
century, in describing the profligate Blocksberg orgies
of the witclies with the evil spirits, alludes to the
influence of the books on magic written by learned

* From many different books/ said a witch accused
at Rinteln in 1589, ' and with many accomplices, she
had from her youth learnt the art of sorcery,' * and
such books were greatly in vogue.' Moreover, ' from
youth up she had scarcely heard or read of anything else
but witches and devil's brides, and how magic potions
should be prepared, and she had become full to over-
flowing with all this stuff, and mentally distracted
and intoxicated.' 2 A Quedhngburg witch confessed
in 1571 that, ' through accounts of devil's courtships
her sensuahty had been aroused and she had been
driven to this work.'^ In a report of a Pomeranian
witch-trial the meddhng of witches with sorcery is
attributed to the reading of the Amadis romance.^

No less corrupting than the books on sorcery and
all sorts of magic arts were the numerous writings
attributing most illnesses to ' magic causes,' and
promising to cure them by * anti-magic means.' * Old
wives ' — the so-called witches — ' gipsies, necromancers
and vagrants,' wrote Paracelsus, ' have more knowledge
of these things than all the high schools.' ^

Countless was the number of these ' necromancers,
miracle-healers, chiromancers, sorcerers, crystal-gazers,

• Jacobs, in the Zeitschr. des Harzvereins, iii. 798.

- Extract from a ^vitch-t^ial of ' Gert Bocklin, who received her due at
the stake on July 4, 1589.'

^ Zeit-schr. des Harzvereins, iii. 791.

* Horst, Zavherhihliothek, ii. 247.

' Fuller details in vol. xii. 286-289.


benison-dealers, exorcists, mandrake-hawkers, mouse-
drivers or rat-leaders, and so forth, who swarmed about
in towns and villages/ ' These people were plentifully
supphed with written or printed tickets of superstitious

' Sorcerers, necromancers, exorcists, and sooth-
sayers,' wrote the Jesuit, George Scherer, ' are pouring
into the land and trying to gain the upper hand/ ^ In
addition to these were the gipsies, ' public thieves and
idle rascals from all sorts of nations and peoples, who
went about in gangs and practised the art of telling
fortunes from hands/ ^ Thus Dr. Faust also learnt from
the gipsies and perambulating Tartars the art of
chiromancy, or ' how to prophesy and soothsay from the
hands.' ^ Even spirit-rappers and table-turners carried
on their trade.''

Already at the close of the Middle Ages there was
an abundance of stories current about devils, marvels
and hobgobhns ; 7 but it was not till the middle of
the sixteenth century that they invaded the book-
market in great numbers and to an extraordinary
extent. ' The holy books,' wrote Dr. Christopher
Gundermann, ' which tell us of the love of God and of
works of Christian mercy are no longer in such use and
demand as they were among the pious Christians of
old. Everybody now buys books about devils, and
pictures and rhymes about occult, magic and diabolical

* Fuller details in vol. xii.

- ** Cf. Pauls, ' Nioderrlicinische Molkon-Zauberfornu'In,' in the
Zeitschr. fur deutsche Kulturgesch. (Jalirg. 1898), p. 305 fT.
■' Postille, Bl. 274, 411''.
•' Olorinus Variscns, (hldtklage., 543-552 ; cf. Svatck, 278 fT.

* Widmann's •Faustbuch,' in Scheiblc, Klosler, ii. 286.

* Sec present work, vol. xii. p. 353. ^ Sec rjotlioiii, 85 (T.


arts. I kiu'w a tailor who possessed at least forty or
fifty siu'h hooks and Icatlots, whicli had all been printed
witliin one or two years, and he boasted of them as
though it were honourable and Cliristian to have such
tales of devils and scandal in the house.' ' For a great
many years it has been the custom to print and sell an
innumerable quantity of broadsheets, tracts and so
forth, all about witches, sorcerers and all sorts of devil's
fry, also about wonders and apparitions which are
said to have taken place, absurdities which formerly
no sensible person could have believed, but which the
whole world nowadays, young and old, high and low,
devours greedily, as though they were gospel truths.
The world has become w^avering in its faith, but all
the more credulous with regard to any and every tale
about devils and ghosts.' ^

* In broadsheets and tracts of this kind, and even
in big books, the people learn about every imaginable
absurdity ; for instance, about fish with popes' heads
and Jesuit caps, grasshoppers w^ith monks' heads,
magic herrings -svhich Avere caught in Denmark and
Norway, and which inspired and moved the pens of
Protestant theologians ; fiu-ther about new-born infants
with tw^o, three and more heads, about children with
fiery eyes and tails an ell long, who spoke directly after

' Von df.n Wercken chrisfenlirher Barmherzigkeit (1615), Bl. 5*, 7.
** Kuno Wiederhold, the son-in-law of the famous Frankfort bookseller,
Sigmund Feyerabend, about the year 1595, borrowed one night from a
Frankfort Jew the sum of 300 thalers wherewith to undertake a journey to
Prague, where he wanted to see in a mirror, at a necromancer's or exorcist's,
what his wife was doing at home and how she was keeping the house, also
because he wished to try and bring back his Satanic majesty himself safely
bottled up in a jar. He afterwards told the manager of the Frankfort
business that he had seen quite well everything that went on at home —
Pallmann, 76-77.


their birth ; about cows or horses which had brought
children into the world, about women who had given
birth to little pigs, donkeys or wolves, and even hve
devils ; about snakes and toads which had spoken
quite plainly in the hearing of numbers of people, and
so forth.' It was therefore no wonder that everything
that was recounted about witches and their arts was
accepted as ' veritable history.'

The " wonders " from the kingdom of the dead and
of spirits which were circulated among the people
were intimately connected with the belief in witches :
even stones could talk, and the moon frequently stooped
down to the earth and • annoimced with a loud voice
forthcoming terrible events.' ^

' To excite fear, alarm and horror,' was also the
object of the countless tales and songs about the worst
criminals and their gruesome executions, especially
about the thousands of witches and evil spirits, who
after torture unspeakable were led to the stake. -

The barbarous love of scenes of murder and horror
was also greatly fostered by stage-pieces performed
before the assembled populace.^ The preacher, Thomas
Birck, wanted to represent witches and the whole
business of witchcraft on the stage. ^

' But,' says a contemporary, 'all that we can hear
or read in books, rhymes and plays about murderers
and robbers and other devihsh creatures in liuman
form, about people who change into werewolves and
have often killed hundreds of other people, about
sorcerers and witches and suchlike devil's fry, all this
is not as terrible as the martyrdoms and executions

' Fuller details in vol. xii. 239-247. Horst. Zauberbibliolhek, i. 30C-314.
- Sec vol. xii. 209-27(5. •' See vol. xii. 1()7-175. ' Vol. vi. i:U 171.


wliii'li go oil uiuKm" our ev(>s and often appear to the
people in tlie light of barbarous, sensational plays/
Sueli speetacles could only serve to blunt all finer human
feelings, and to increase the general demoralisation
that was obtaining.

' The populace,' the contemporary goes on, ' sees
the witches and sorcerers taken to the place of execution
in the knacker-carts ; often all their limbs and members
have been lacerated by torture, their breasts all
pounded up, their arms dislocated, their knees
broken, like the thief on the cross ; they can no longer
walk or stand, for their legs are crushed; then they
are fastened to the burning stake, and they begin to
howl and groan at all the martyrdom they are suffering ;
one cries out to God and appeals to the righteousness
of God with a loud voice, another invokes the devil,
curses and swears in the very face of death : but the
people, noble and humble, young and old, look on at it
all, jest, mock, often ridicule and abuse the poor miser-
able victims — what do you think, good Christian
reader, who bears rule here ? and who is it who jubilates
and triumphs when he sees all this anguish and torture
and the staring onlookers, among whom there are many
who will serve for the next roast : is it not the devil ?
Yes indeed. You know the devil of old, for he is in the
midst of you in all the blasphemous cursing and swearing
which you indulge in without shame or scruple, worse
indeed than ever the heathen were guilty of. There is
no doubt whatever that the sin of blasphemy is bringing
sorcery and witchcraft more and more into vogue in
all lands. Is it not as though this inhuman cursing
and swearing, as well as the inhuman drunkenness,
adultery and profligacy had, so to say, let the devil

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