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acumen, and with universal approval, Forner further
included, besides Binsfeld, the lawyer Nicholas Remigius
and the Jesuit Martin Delrio.

Nicholas Remigius, privy councillor and chief judge
in the duchy of Lorraine, pubhshed at Lyons in 1595, in
Latin, a * Daemonolatria," which was printed at Cologne
in 1596, and in the years 1596 and 1597 at Frank-
fort-on-the-Maine. The Frankfort bookseller Zacharias
Palten dedicated his edition to the ' highly renowned
and most distinguished scholar. Otto Casmann, school-
rector, later on preacher at Stade,' because he, in his
teaching about demons, was in full agreement with the
admirable treatises, unique of their kind, of Remigius

^ Panoplin, Epist. dedicaioria to the Bishop John Christopher of
Eichstdlt, BI. 3. ** The only witch-sermons by Catholic clerics known
to me, besides the discourse of Distel (see above), which only in a certain
sense comes under this head, are those of the Tiibingen professor and parish-
priest Martin Plantsch, delivered on the occasion of a witch-burning which
took place in 1505, and afterwards published in Latin {Opusculum de sagis
maleficis, Phorcae, 1507). See Paulus in the Diozesanarchiv of Suabia,
1897, No. 6, and the Kaiholik, 1900, ii. 47. Here Pauhts remarks : ' Plantsch
wanted by his writings to show other clerics in what manner they ought
to turn away the credulous populace from the empty witch-superstition.
His exposition.-!, however, in which far too great an influence on the outer
world is conceded to evil spu-its, are much more calculated to excite
sympathy with the superstition than to undermine it. It is worthy, more-
over, of notice that the well-known humanist Henry Bebel in a preface to
the witch-sermons cannot sufficiently praise his friend Plantsch, and is full
of indignation against the execrandu perfidia sngarum — a proof that at
that time the belief in witches was also shared by the humanists.' The
opposite assertion of Riezler (see above, p. 217 note) is tiicreforc false.



398 HISTORY OF THK GERMAN PEOPLE

who had made the largest collection of witch-confessions,
eitlier voluntary or forced.'

This work was found to be of such general usefulness
that in the years 1596 and 1598 a German translation
of it was brought out \mder the title ' Daemonolatria/
i.e. ' Von l^nholden und Zaubergeistern, des Edlen
Ehrenvesten und hochgelarten Herrn Nicolai Remigii
wclche wunderbarliche Historien, so sich mit der
Hexen deren iiber 800 im Herzogtum Lotharingen
verbrennet, zugetragen, sehr niitzlich, heblich und
notwendig zu lesen.' -

What there was in the work^that was ' pleasant
{Heblich) to read/ I cannot discover.

Just as the French parliamentary councillor Bodin,
who had presided over a few witch-trials, felt ' his
hair stand^on end ' at Weyer's godless production,
so Remigius felt ready to start out of his skin on perusal
of the pages of this ' house-physician of the Duke of
Cleves, inexperienced in law, obscene, and meriting
the severest punishment.' To estabhsh the actuality
of the maddest and most ridiculous witch-superstitions,
Remigius used the confessions of some 800 witches
w^ho, during his tenure of office, had, within sixteen
years, been condemned in Lorraine to the stake. ^
As the Protestant theologian Meyfart was later on
to point out with great justice, it does not speak well
for the author that in his book he deals with several

' Dedication of September 7, 1596, in the Frankfort edition of the
Daemonolatriae^libr litres of_^1597.

- Translated by Teucrides Annaeus Privatus, Frankfort, at the shop of
Cratandrus Palthenius, 1598. The German edition of 1596, quoted by
Soldan-Heppe, ii. 25, n. 2, is unknown to me.

^ Lib. 1, cap. 15. Almost as many witches, it says there, had escaped
punishment by flight or had not been brought to confession by torture.



WITCH-PERSECUTION 399

hundred persons at whose trials his Excellence was
himself present. The absurd stories which Eemigius
puts into print testify far more to the innocence of
the condemned than to the cleverness of the judges.
I have read the papers through carefully and found
that the whole fabric rests merely on statements ex-
torted by torture and on crazy tales of demented
beggarfolk. The things brought forward by Remigius
are ' so preposterous, impossible, and therefore incred-
ible ' that even an ABC schoolboy would regard
them as idle tales. ^ All those who accepted his reports
as truth must have been terribly alarmed at learning
that the witches executed in Lorraine almost all of
them ' confessed ' that they had received from the
devil power to get into locked-up houses at night in
the shape of quite small animals, mice, cats, and so
forth, and when there to reassume their human form
and poison the sleeping household, and do other dreadful
deeds ; very difficult it must have been to protect
oneself against such witch-arts as these.- But if, on
the one hand, the devil was so kind to the witches
as to bestow on them such power, on the other hand,
as they themselves with ' equal verisimihtude ' con-
fessed, he was also inexorably stern with them. Remi-
gius had learnt, for instance, from their ' confessions,'
that if the witches did not appear pmictually at the
gatherings, or neglected to attend them, or in anv
other way acted contrary to the devil's orders, he

' Meyfart, 480 ; cf . 527 ff.

- Lib. 2, cap. 4, p. 213 sq. This chapter is headed : ' Perdifficiliter
vitari posse quas veneficae hominibus struunt insidias : quod de nocte in
obseratas, clausasque domos ignota specie ac forma illabantur, arctissimo
somno decumbcntes diris suis artibus obruant, prodigiosaque alia multa
edant,' &c, ; cf. hb. 2, cap. 7 and 8, pp. 239-253.



400 HlSl'Om' Ol- THE GERMAN PEOrLE

pimisluHl tluMU in tlio cniclest manner and tore them
to pieces with liis claws.' Keniigius assures us that
tlie devil sometimes attended the judicial proceedings
in person, in order to restrain the witches from making
confessions, but on such occasions he was visible only
to them, and not to other people.-

At the trial of witches, says Kemigius, everything
connected with them is suspicious, whether they go
often to church or never, whether their bodies are
hot or wdiether they are cold, and in every case the
most unrelenting pmiishment is decreed against them.
But then comes the question, how should children who
are mider age, and who have taken part in the witch-
gatherings, be punished ? That the number of such
children was enormous Remigius had not the slightest
doubt. ' When the devil,' he shows from his experi-
ences, ' has once got into a family, he does not easily
let himself be driven out again. He works upon the
mothers to such an extent that they early dedicate
their children to him, take them to witch-dances at the
age of seven or twelve and imitate them in all the
arts of witchcraft.' But these children in spite of their
tender age must not be let off punishment. ' We two
high judges in the case of several children who had
been given to the devil from their earhest years by
their parents, and were, therefore, well able to dis-
tinguish between right and wrong, sentenced them to
be stripped and thrice birched round the spot where
their parents were burning at the stake. This punish-
ment has remained in vogue since then, but I have never
thought tha;t it adequately met the demands of the law.
They ought to have been completely exterminated,

1 Lib. 1, cap. 13. " Ihid. 3, cap. 11.



^VITCH-PERSECUTION 401

SO that no one should receive any further injury
from them. Wholesome zeal is always preferable to
an outward semblance of mercifulness/ ^

Remigius was by no means alone in these opinions.
Henri Boquet, chief judge in Burgundy, considered it
(1603) a species of mercy to strangle witch-children,
instead of burning them.- Binsfeld was of opinion
that except mider quite exceptional circumstances
capital punishment should not be inflicted on boys and
girls till they had completed their sixteenth year.^
This ' mild ' course, however, was not adopted. The
Protestant preacher Riidinger informed his hearers
that ' death by fire would be infhcted on dragon-cubs

and devil's wh of seven, twelve or fifteen years

old.' ^ The torture of minors for the extortion of con-
fessions was a frequent occurrence in the law courts.
Binsfeld also protested against this ; only threatening
language or chastising with rods or leather thongs
should be used to elicit their evidence."'

Important regulations for the use of the rack are
contained in a work compiled by the jurist (later Jesuit)
Martin Delrio, born at Antwerp of Spanish parents
in 1551.

This book, ' Disquisitiones magicae,' in six vols.,
which appeared first at Louvain in 1599 and went
through several editions, dealt with the whole question
of witchcraft, and collected from contemporary law-
books and contemporary judicial practice everything
bearing on the treatment of witches.*^ Deliio, a

• Lib. 2, cap. 2. - Sec Lecanu, Gesch. des Satans, 295.

•' De confessionibus (edition of 1590), p. 650. ^ Riidinger, 255.

■' De confessionibus, 350.

•^ Disquisitianum magicarum libri sex, quibus continelur accurata curio-
sarum artium et vanarum superstitionum confulatio, utilis theologis iuris-
VOL. XVI. D D



.10"2 HISTORY OF THE GERMAN PEOPLE

theoretical bookworm, sliarod with tolerable fulness
ill the witch-superstitions of his time, assailed vcliemently

consult is, medicis, philologis. Lovanii, 1599. Catalogue of the numerous
editions in Griisse, liibl. tnagica, 47. The statement of Binz {Joh. Weyer,
79). that the work was first issued in Mayencc in 1593, is erroneous, as is clear
from Dolrio's preface (Lovanii, 7. Id. Mart. 1599) and from the ajiprobation
of the censor of February 8, 1599. Justus Lipsius, who i)roposed the title
J>is,]iiisiliancs miqicae for the work, wrote to the aiithor in 1597 : ' Magica
tua pro votis multorum tarde dabis. Omnino in hoc incumbe et emittc ' ;
and again in June 1598 : 'Tua]\Iagica baud dubie omnibus grata . . . perge
et prome ' Burmanni Sylloge Epislolariim, 545, 548. The American
G. 8. Burr, professor at Cornell university, writes in his treatise The
Literature of Witchcraft (reprinted from the Papers of the American
Historical Association, New York, 1890), p. 60, n. 7 : 'In the National
Library at Brussels, where I have examined it, is an earlier and much
briefer draft of Delrio's book, dated 1596 and bearing the title De super -
stitione et malis artibus.' ' The edition ascribed by Grasse (and by others
following him) to 1593 is a myth,' for the reasons given by us above. In
Grasse, however, no such edition is catalogued. ** Even in the 2nd edition
Binz repeats (p. 88, in the text) that the work appeared first at Mayenee in
1593, adding the following note, p. 88 R. ' If Janssen, viii. 612 (of the earlier
edition : German), says this statement of mine is en'oneous, he must blame
not me, but the source which I took care to mention. This source is the
work of the two Jesuits de Backer, wherein it is said that the first edition
appeared as a Folio in 1593, at Mayenee.' Binz, so it seems, does not think
it necessary to correct an obvious mistake to which his attention has been
drawn, so long as he can show whence he got the mistake. Moreover, in the
new revision of de Backer's work by C. Sommervogel {Bibliotherjue de la
Compagnie de Jesus, Bibliographie, t. ii. [1891], p. 1898) the supposed edition
of Mayenee of 1593 is tacitly set aside, the edition of Delrio in three
quarto vols. (Lovanii, 1599-1600) being mentioned as the first, the
second being the Mayenee edition of 1600. Delrio studied law in Paris,
Douay and Louvain, and distinguished himself as much by his commentaries
on civil law as by Ms philological writings. Justus Lij^sius called him a
' miraculum nostri aevi ' (cf. Peinlich, Gesch. des Gymnasiums zu Graz,
Programm, 1869, p. 5). He filled in Brabant the post of a vice-chancellor
and procurator-general, in 1580 entered the Jesuit Order at Valladolid,
taught philosophy at Douay, theology at Liege, Louvain, Gratz, and
Salamanca, and died at Louvain in 1608. The object of his Disquisi-
tionum Magicarum libri sex he described as follows at the beginning of the
fifth book (I make use of the Mayenee edition of 1624) : ' Quis credidisset me
post annorum viginti felix a Tribunalibus ad Religiosae vitae transfugium
ad hanc Masuri rubricam rediturum ? Redeo tamen non ut coram me



WITCH-PERSECUTION 403

the differing opinions of Weyer and Godelmann, and,
with the greatest satisfaction, embodied in his work
the act of recantation of Cornehus Loos. The actual
basis of all witchcraft was in his opinion the compact
with the devil, and he supported the decree of the
Saxon and Palatine criminal ordinances that the
witches, even if they had not injured anybody, ought
to be punished on account of their compact with the
devil. His book is full of all sorts of enormities con-
nected with the behef in witches. But one cannot
deny him the merit of having laboured zealously to
modify the cruel severity of witch-trials and to impress
on the judges the principle that it was better that a
hundred guilty persons should escape punishment, than
for one innocent one to be condemned.^ If the judge can
elicit the truth without it, he must not have recourse
to torture ; for trial by torture is a dangerous and
deceptive matter and is often the cause of an innocent
person suffering the severest punishment.- Torture
must only be used when there are ' the most undoubted
proofs ' of guilt, so that the judge is fully convinced
and nothing more is wanting than the confession of
the culprit.-^

reus palleat, non ut Quaesitor sedeam, vel ut Quadrupalatoi- aures praebeam
sed ut iudicibus consulam, quibus ex librorum confusa congerie aut usu
nimis arbitrariorum hodie iudiciorum ista minus libuit vol licuit ad crimen,
de quo nunc agimus, accommodare.' Lib. 5, p. 694. Concerning Delrio
and his work see also Dulu-, Die Stellung der Jesuiten, pp. 39-45.

' Lib. V. sect. 1.

2 ' Abstinendum iudici tormentis, si possit abstinendo Veritas liabcri ;
quaestio cnim res fragilis est et periculosa et quae saepe veritatem fallit,
saepo fit, ut innocens pro incerto scelere certissimas luat pocnas.' Lib. v.
sect. 9.

'•' ' Indicia tam urgentia et certa et luce meridiana clariora, ut index sit
quasi certus de delinquentc et ut nihil aliud ipse desit quam rei confessio.'
Lib. V. sect. 3.

D D 2



•104 HISTORY OF THE GERMAN PEOPLE

Among the ' indications ' which according to common
usage justified the use of torture, Delrio rejects the
ftMr and trend)hn



Online LibraryJohannes JanssenHistory of the German people at the close of the middle ages (Volume 16) → online text (page 33 of 45)