De la Demonomanie des Sorciers. Jean BODIN, I. Bodin Angevin.
De la Demonomanie des Sorciers.
De la Demonomanie des Sorciers.

De la Demonomanie des Sorciers.

Chez Estienne Prevosteau: Chez Estienne Prevosteau, 1598. Edition Derniere [ "Last Edition" - actually probably the Fourth Edition ]. Hardcover, Sextodecimo. 5 1/4 inches x 3 3/8 inches (148 x 85 mm), 604pp (xxxiipp index) Pages 602 & 603 are misnumbered as always in this edition (?) but the text is complete as issued. Contemporary stiff vellum binding, raised bands to spine, remains of ties. A major work in the history of witchcraft persecutions. Jean Bodin (1530-1596) was a noted lawyer and author whose "Demonomanie" was drawn from his own experience as a judge, as well as other contemporary accounts of witchcraft (many of which are recounted). It was written to assist other members of the judiciary who were dealing with cases of witchcraft, and in it Bodin sought to explain what motivated witches, and how they could best be identified, and attempted to forumlate a legal definition of witchcraft, becoming one of the first authors to do so. Despite having a reputation as something of a liberal in other spheres, Bodin had no tolerance when it came to suspected witches. His book shows an unflinching brutality as he carefully set out the best ways to carry out the interrogation, torture, sentencing and execution of the accused, regardless of the age or infirmity of the accused. The work is divided into four books: the first book contains chapters on: The Definition of a Sorcerer (Witch), The Association of Spirits with Men, The Difference between Good and Evil Spirits, Of Prophecy and other Means to know Occult Matters, Of Natural and Human Means to know Occult Matters, etc. The second book contains chapters on: Of Magic in General, Of Secret Invocations of Evil Spirits, Of the Ecstacies and Ravishment of Sorcerers and their Usual Relations with Demons, Of Lycanthropy and if Spirits can change Men into Beasts, If Sorcerers Copulate with Demons, If Sorcerers can inflict Illness, Can Sorcerers Cure Illness. The third book is largely devoted to questions about what Sorcerers can achieve, and how they do it - whether or not they can influence others, cause and cures other, etc. etc. The fourth book deals primarily with the legal aspects: Of the Inquisition of Sorcerers, Of the Proofs needed to show the Crime of Sorcery, Of Voluntary Confession and the Use of Force with Sorcerers, The Judgements that can be made about the Sorcers, Of the Punishments to be given to Sorcerers. Interestingly it ends with a refutation of the opinions of Johann Weyer, who had questioned some of the more extreme assumptions of the witch-hunters in his "De Praestigiis Daemonum et Incantationibus ac Venificiis" (1563). The book was disturbingly popular amongst jurists and theologians: the first edition was published in 1580, the second edition was issued only two years after the first, and by 1604 it had gone through ten other editions. The present edition is described on the title-page as Edition Derniere ("Last Edition"), in strictly chronological terms it is either the fourth or fifth edition (there is a little uncertainty as to exact precedence). It is known with certainty that it was published in 1598 - in the very middle of the bloodiest period of the European witch trials which is commonly counted as running between 1560 and 1630. Dorbon-Ainé described this edition as "Excellente édition de petit format qui contient une table détaillée des matières qui n'existe pas dans les éditions in-4 et in-8" ("An excellent small format edition which contains a detailed table of contents which does not exist in the quarto and octavo editions). Dorbon-Ainé "Bibliotheca Esoterica" 389. The vellum binding has a beautiful age patina, the top corner of the rear board neatly restored, front free endpaper (first blank) appears to have been replaced - although very sympathetically with a sheet of paper of similar age. Early owner's names on title-page and its (otherwise blank) verso, and on pastedown. First leaves somewhat darkened and with light wear. Short tear in the margin of the pp. 391/392. Otherwise the pages are clean and supple, with just a little scattered browning. A complete, solid and attractive copy of an important book, in a lovely contemporary binding. Item #67215

Price: $3,250.00

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