History of the Rise and Influence of the Spirit of Rationalism in Europe
by W. E. H. Lecky

Footnotes to Chapter I
First File

1:28 The general truth of this statement can scarcely, I think, be questioned, though there are, undoubtedly, a few remarkable exceptions. Thus the Templars were accused of sorcery, when Philip the Beautiful wished to confiscate their property; and the heretical opinions of the Vaudois may possibly have had something to say to the trials at Arras, in 1459; and, indeed, the name Vauderie was at one time given to sorcery. There were, moreover, a few cases of obnoxious politicians and noblemen being destroyed on the accusation; and during the Commonwealth there were one or two professional witch-finders in England. We have also to take into account some cases of convent scandals, such as those of Gauffridi, Grandier, and La Cadière; but, when all these deductions have been made, the prosecutions for witchcraft will represent the action of undiluted superstition more faithfully than probably any others that could be named. The overwhelming majority of witches were extremely poor; they were condemned by the highest and purest tribunals (ecclesiastical and lay) of the time; and as heretics were then burnt without difficulty for their opinions, there was little temptation to accuse them of witchcraft, and besides all parties joined cordially in the persecution. Grillandus, an Italian inquisitor of the fifteenth century, says -- 'Isti sortilegi, magici, necromantici, et similes sunt cæteris Christi fidelibus pauperiores, sordidiores, viliores, et contemptibiliores, in hoc mundo Deo permittente calamitosam vitam communiter peragunt, Deum verum infelici morte perdunt et æterni ignis incendio cruciantur.' (De Sortilegiis, cap. iii.) We shall see hereafter that witchcraft and heresy represent the working of the same spirit on different classes, and, therefore, usually accompanied each other.

1:29 Wright's Sorcery, vol. i. p. 186; Michelet, La Soreière, p. 10.

1:30 On French witchcraft, see Thiers' Traité des Superstitions, tom. i. pp. 134-136; Madden's History of Phantasmata, vol. i. pp. 306-310; Garinet, Histoire de la Magie en France, passim, but especially the Remonstrance of the Parliament of Rouen, in 1670, against the pardon of witches, p. 337; Bodin's Démonomanie des Sorciers. The persecution raged with extreme violence all through the south of France. It was a brilliant suggestion of De Lancre, that the witchcraft about Bordeaux might be connected with the number of orchards -- the Devil being well known to have an especial power over apples. (See the passage quoted in Garinet, p. 176.) We have a fearful illustration of the tenacity of the belief in the fact that the superstition still continues, and that blood has in consequence been shed during the present century in the provinces that border on the Pyrenees. In 1807, a beggar was seized, tortured, and burned alive for sorcery by the inhabitants of Mayenne. In 1850, the Civil Tribunal of Tarbes tried a man and woman named Soubervie, for having caused the death of a woman named Bedouret. They believed that she was a witch, and declared that the priest had told them that she was the cause of an illness under which the woman Soubervie was suffering. They accordingly drew Bedouret into a private room, held her down upon some burning straw, and placed a red-hot iron across her mouth. The unhappy woman soon died in extreme agony. The Soubervies confessed, and indeed exulted in their act. At their trials they obtained the highest possible characters. It was shown that they had been actuated solely by superstition, and it was urged that they only followed the highest ecclesiastical precedents. The jury recommended them to mercy; and they were only sentenced to pay twenty-five francs a year to the husband of the victim, and to be imprisoned for four months. (Cordier, Légendes des Hautes-Pyrénées. Lourdes, 1855, pp. 79-88.) In the Rituel Auscitain, now used in the diocese of Tarbes, it is said -- 'On doit reconnaître que non seulement il peut y avoir, mais qu'il y a même quelquefois des personnes qui sont véritablement possédées des esprits malins.' (Ibid. p. 90.)

2:30 Llorente, History of the Inquisition (English Translation), pp. 129-149. Amongst other cases, more than thirty women were burnt at Calahorra, in 1507. A Spanish monk, named Castanaga, seems to have ventured to question the justice of the executions as early as 1529 (p. 131). See also Garinet, p. 176; Madden, vol. i. pp. 311-315. Toledo was supposed to be the headquarters of the magicians, probably because, in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, mathematics, which were constantly confounded with magic, flourished there more than in any other part of Europe. Naudé, Apologie pour les Grands Hommes soupçonnez de Magie (Paris, 1625), pp. 81, 82. See also Buckle's History of Civilisation, vol. i. p. 334, note, and Simancas, De Catholicis Institutionibus, pp. 463-468.

1:31 Spina, De Strigibus (1522), cap. xii.; Thiers, vol. i. p. 138; Madden, vol. i. p. 305. Peter the Martyr, whom Titian has immortalised, seems to have been one of the most strenuous of the persecutors. Spina, Apol., c. ix.

2:31 Madden, vol. i. pp. 303, 304. Michelet, La Sorcière, p. 206. Sprenger ascribes Tell's shot to the assistance of the devil. Mall. Mal., pars ii. c. xvi. Savoy has always been especially subject to those epidemics of madness which were once ascribed to witches, and Boguet noticed that the principal wizards he had burnt were from that country. An extremely curious account of a recent epidemic of this kind in a little village called Morzines will be found in Une Relation sup une Epidémie d' Hystéro-Démonopathie en 1861, par le Docteur A. Constans (Paris, 1863). Two French writers, Alain Kardec and Mirville, have maintained this epidemic to be supernatural.

3:31 Compare Plancey, Dict. Infernale, art. Blokula; Hutchinson on Witchcraft, p. 55; Madden, vol. i. p. 354.

1:32 Thiers, Superst., vol. i. p. 142.

2:32 For ample evidence of the teaching of Catholicism on the subject, see Madden's History of Phant., vol. i. pp. 234-248; Des Mousseaux, Pratiques des Démons (Paris, 1854), pp. 174-177; Thiers' Superst., tom. i. pp. 138-163. The two last-mentioned writers were ardent Catholics. Thiers, who wrote in 1678 (I have used the Paris edition of 1741), was a very learned and moderate theologian, and wrote under the approbation of 'the doctors in the faculty of Paris:' he says -- 'On ne sçauroit nier qu'il y ait des magiciens ou des sorciers (car ces deux mots se prennent ordinairement dans la même signification) sans contredire visiblement les saintes lettres, la tradition sacrée et profane, les lois canoniques et civiles et l'expérience de tous les siècles, et sans rejeter avec impudence l'autorité irréfragable et infaillible de l'Eglise qui lance si souvent les foudres de l'excommunication contr'eux dans ses Prônes' (p. 132). So also Garinet -- 'Tous les conciles, tous les synodes, qui se tinrent dans les seize premiers siècles de l'église s'élèvent contre les sorciers; tous les écrivains ecclésiastiques les condamnent avec plus ou moins de sévérité' (p. 26). The bull of Innocent VIII. is prefixed to the Malleus Malificarum.

1:33 Colloquia de Fascinationibus. For the notions of Melanchthon on these subjects, see Baxter's World of Spirits, pp. 126, 127. Calvin, also, when remodelling the laws of Geneva, left those on witchcraft intact.

1:34 Wesley.

1:36. This was first, I believe, asserted by Wier. In England it was much maintained during the reign of Charles II. The other side of the question was supported on the Continent by Bodin, and in England by Glanvil, More, Casaubon, &c.

1:40. On the universality of the belief, see Herder, Philosophy of History, b. c. 2; Maury, Histoire de Magie, passim.

1:42. Garinet, pp. 13, 14.

1:44. This very obscure branch of the subject has been most admirably treated by Maury, Histoire de la Magie (Paris, 1860), pp. 78-85. An extremely learned and able work, from which I have derived great assistance.

2:44. Maury, ch. iv.

1:46. The Alexandrian or Neo-Platonic school probably owed a great part of its influence over early Christianity to its doctrine of a divine Trinity -- the Unity, the Logos, and the energising Spirit -- which was thought by some to harmonise with the Christian doctrine. Many persons have believed that Neo-Platonic modes both of thought and expression are reflected in St. John's Gospel. The influence which this school exercised over Christianity forms one of the most remarkable pages in ecclesiastical history. From it the orthodox derived a great part of their metaphysics; and, in a great measure, their doctrine concerning the worship of demons, to which St. Paul was long thought to have alluded. From it the Gnostics, the first important sect of Christian heretics, obtained their central doctrine of the Æons, which Julian endeavoured to consolidate into a rival system. On the doctrine of the demons, in its relation to heathen worship, see the chapter on Neo-Platonism in Maury, and the curious argument, based on the Platonic theory, which occupies the greater part of the eighth book of the De Civitate Dei.

1:47. De Culiu Fœminarum, lib. i. c. 2. This curious notion is given on the authority of the prophecy of Enoch, which was thought by some -- and Tertullian seems to have inclined to their opinion to be authoritative Scripture. St. Augustine suggests, that the 'angels' who were attached to the antediluvians were possibly devils -- incubi, as they were called -- and that the word angel, in the writings attributed to Enoch, and in all parts of Scripture, signifying only messenger, may be applied to any spirit, good or bad. (De Civ. Dei, lib. xv. cap. 23.) This rule of interpretation had, as we shall see, an important influence on the later theology of witchcraft.

1:48. Much the same notions were long after held about the fairies. A modern French writer states, that till near the middle of the eighteenth century, a mass was annually celebrated in the Abbey of Poissy, for the preservation of the nuns from their power. (Des Mousseaux, Pratiques des Démons, p. 81.)

2:48. One sect of heretics of the fourth century -- the Messalians -- went so far as to make spitting a religious exercise, in hopes of thus casting out the devils they inhaled. (Maury, p. 317.)

3:48. 'Hoc negare impudentiæ videatur' (St. Aug. De Civ. Dei, lib. xv. cap. 23). The Saint, however, proceeds to say, 'Non hic aliquid audeo temere definire.' -- See also Justin Martyr, Ap. c. v. The same notion was perpetuated through the succeeding ages, and marriage with devils was long one of the most ordinary accusations in the witch trials. The devils who appeared in the female form were generally called succubi, those who appeared like men, incubi (though this distinction was not always preserved). The former were comparatively rare, but Bodin mentions a priest who had commerce with one for more than forty years, and another priest who found a faithful mistress in a devil for half a century: they were both burnt alive (Démonomanie des Sorciers, p. 107). Luther was a firm believer in this intercourse (Ibid.). The incubi were much more common; and hundreds, perhaps thousands, of women have been burnt on account of the belief in them. It was observed, that they had a peculiar attachment to women with beautiful hair; and it was an old Catholic belief, that St. Paul alluded to this in that somewhat curious passage, in which he exhorts women to cover their heads, because of the 'angels' (Sprenger, Mall. Mal., Pars i. Quæst. 4; and Pars ii. Quæst. 2). The incubi generally had no children, but there were some exceptions to this rule, for Nider the inquisitor assures us, that the island of Cyprus was entirely peopled by their sons (Mall. Malifi,. p. 522). The ordinary phenomenon of nightmare, as the name imports, was associated with this belief (see a curious passage in Bodin, p. 109). The Dusii, whose exploits St. Augustine mentions, were Celtic spirits, and are the origin of our 'Deuce' (Maury, p. 189). For the much more cheerful views of the Cabalists, and other secret societies of the middle ages, concerning the intercourse of philosophers with sylphs, salamanders, &c., see that very curious and amusing book, Le Comte de Gabalis, ou Entretiens sur les Sciences Secrètes (Paris, 1671). Lilith, the first wife of Adam, concerning whom the Rabbinical traditions are so full, who was said to suck the blood of infants, and from whose name the word lullaby (Lili Abi) is supposed by some to have been derived, was long regarded as the queen of the succubi (Plancey, Dict. Inf., art. Lilith). The Greeks believed that nightmare resulted from the presence of a demon named Ephialtes.

1:49. There is one of these inscriptions in the Museum at the Lateran, and another in the catacomb of St. Callista. In the Church of Rome there is an order of exorcists, whose functions are confined to baptisms; and with these Mr. Spencer Northcote, in his book on the Catacombs, identifies the ancient inscriptions. I have not done so, because it is quite certain that, in primitive Christianity, the practice of exorcising possessed persons was general; and because Sprenger asserts, that the employment of exorcising at baptisms was not introduced till a later period (Mall. Mal., Pars ii. Quæst. 2). Sprenger does not give his authority, but as he is usually well informed on matters of tradition, and as he treats the omission as a difficulty, I have adopted his view. See also Neander's Hist., vol. ii. p. 370.

1:50. Tertullian De Spectaculis, cap. xxvi. Another woman, this writer assures us, having gone to see an actor, dreamed all the following night of a winding sheet, and heard the actor's name ringing, with frightful reproaches, in her ears. To pass to a much later period, St. Gregory the Great, in the sixth century, mentions a nun who, when walking in a garden, began to eat without making the sign of the cross. She had a bitter cause to repent of her indecent haste, for she immediately swallowed a devil in a lettuce (Dialogi, lib. i. c. 4). The whole passage, which is rather long for quotation, is extremely curious.

2:50. De Coronâ.

1:52. The history of this movement has been traced with masterly ability by Maury, Sur la Magie, and also by Beugnot, Destruction de Paganisme dans l'Occident.

2:52. Codex Theodosianus, lib. ix. tit. xvi. c. 1, 2. The pagan historian Zosimus observes, that when Constantine had abandoned his country's gods 'he made this beginning of impiety, that he looked with contempt on the art of foretelling' (lib. ii. c. 29); and Eusebius classifies his prohibition of prophecy with the measures directed openly against paganism. (Vita Const., lib. i. c. 16.)

3:52. Cod. Th., lib. ix. t. xvi. l. 3.

1:53. Cod. Th., lib. ix. t. xvi. l. 4, 5, 6. The language is curious and very peremptory thus, we read in law 4: 'Nemo haruspicem consulat, aut mathematicum, nemo hariolum. Augurum et vatum prava confessio conticescat. Chaldæi ac magi et ceteri quos maleficos ob facinorum magnitudinem vulgus appellat, nec ad hanc partem aliquid moliantur. Sileat omnibus perpetuo divinandi curiositas: etenim supplicium, capitis feret gladio ultore prostratus quicunque jussis obsequium denegaverit.' Another law (6) concludes: 'Si convictus ad proprium facinus detegentibus repugnaverit pernegando sit eculeo deditus, ungulisque sulcantibus latera perferat pœnas proprio dignas facinore.' On the nature of the punishments that were employed, compare the Commentary on the law, in Ritter's edition (Leipsic, 1738), and Beugnot, tom. i. p. 143.

1:54. Beugnot, tom. i. p. 148. On these laws, M. Maury well says, 'De la sorte se trouvaient atteints les ministres du polythéisme les plus en crédit, les pratiques qui inspiraient à la superstition le plus de confiance. * * * Bien des gens ne se souciaient plus de rendre aux dieux le culte légal et consacré; mais les oracles, les augures, les présages, presque tous les païens y recouraient avec confiance, et leur en enlever la possibilité c'était leur dépouiller de ce qui faisait leur consolation et leur joie' (pp. 117, 118).

1:56. Vita Sancti Hilarionis. This miracle is related by Beugnot. The whole life of St. Hilarion is crowded with prodigies that illustrate the view taken in the text. Besides curing about two hundred persons in a little more than a month, driving away serpents, &c., we find the saint producing rain with the same facility as the later witches.

1:57. St. Gregory Nazianzen (3rd oration against Julian).

2:57. Cod. Th., lib. ix. t. xvi. l. 7, &c.

3:57. Maury, pp. 118, 119.

4:57. Ammianus Marcellinus. lib. xxix. c. 1, 2.

1:60. Many hundreds of these superstitions are examined by Thiers. A great number also are given in Scott's Discovery of Witchcraft.

2:60. Michelet, La Sorcière, p. 86, note. See also Maury.

1:62. On the appearances of the devil in the form of Christ, see the tract by Gerson in the Malleus Malef., vol. ii. p. 77; and also Ignatius Lupus, in Edict, S. Inquisitionis (1603), p. 185.

2:62. See this story very amusingly told, on the authority of Nicephorus, in Binsfeldius de Confessionibus Maleficorum (Trèves, 1591), pp. 465-467. St. Gregory Nazianzen mentions (Oration xviii.) that St. Cyprian had been a magician.

1:64. Garinet, p. 38.

2:64. Ibid. P. 42.

3:64. Buckle's Hist. vol. i. p. 345 (note), where an immense amount of evidence on the subject is given.

1:65. Garinet, pp. 14, 15.

2:65. This was the title of the Roman code I have reviewed. Mathematicus was the name given to astrologers: as I law of Diocletian put it, 'Artem geometriæ disci atque exerceri publice interest. Ars autem mathematica damnabilis est et interdicta omnino.'

3:65. Garinet, p. 39.

4:65. Garinet, p. 45. He also saved the lives of some Cabalists. He was unfortunately one of the chief persecutors of the Jews in his time. Bedarride. Hist. des Juifs, pp. 83, 87.

1:67. Garinet, p. 85. This, however, is doubtful. Herder mentions that the Greenlanders believe the Aurora to be formed by spirits dancing and playing ball.

2:67. On the Hebrew Cabala, see the learned work of M. Franck, and on the notions in the middle ages, and in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Le Comte de Gabalis. Plancey, Dict. Infernale, art. Cabale. All the heathen gods were supposed to be sylphs or other aërial spirits. Vesta was the wife of Noah -- Zoroaster, her son, otherwise called Japhet. The sin of Adam was deserting the sylph for his wife, and the story of the apple was allegorical, &c. This last notion appears to have been a relic of Manichæism, and was very common among the heretics of the tenth and eleventh centuries (Matter, Hist. du Gnosticisme, tom. iii. pp. 259, 260). Paracelsus was one of the principal asserters of the existence of sylphs, &c.

1:68. This was a very old notion. St. Basil seems to have maintained it very strongly. Cudworth's Int. System, vol. ii. p. 648.

1:69. Maury, p. 185.

1:70. The last judicial execution in Europe was, I believe, in Switzerland, in 1782 (Michelet's Sorcière, p. 415); the last law on the subject, the Irish Statute which was not repealed till 1821.

1:71. For the history of this very remarkable movement, see the able essay of Renan on Averroes. Among the Mahometans the panic was so great, that the theologians pronounced logic and philosophy to be the two great enemies of their profession, and ordered all books on those dangerous subjects to be burnt. Among the Christians, St. Thomas Aquinas devoted his genius to the controversy; and, for two or three centuries, most of the great works in Christendom bore some marks of Averroes. M. Renan has collected some curious evidence from the Italian painters of the fourteenth century, of the prominence Averroes had assumed in the popular mind. The three principal figures in Orcagna's picture of Hell, in the Campo Santo at Pisa, are Mahomet, Antichrist, and Averroes.

1:74. Didron, Iconographie Chrétienne, Histoire de Dieu (Paris, 1843), p. 262. See, however, for the whole history of this very remarkable transition, pp. 255-273. To this I may add, that about the thirteenth century, the representations of Satan underwent a corresponding change, and became both more terrible and more grotesque (Maury, Légendes Pieuses, p. 136). The more the subject is examined, the more evident it becomes that, before the invention of printing, painting was the most faithful mirror of the popular mind; and that there was scarcely an intellectual movement that it did not reflect. On the general terrorism of this period, see Michelet, Histoire de France, tom. vii. pp. 140, 141.

2:74. Madden, vol. i. pp. 359-395. Cabanis, Rapports Physiques et Morals tom. ii. pp. 77-79.

1:75. Garinet, p. 75.

1:76. Michelet, La Sorcière.

2:76. Binsfeldius, p. 155.

3:76. Hecker's Epidemics of the Middle Ages, p. 29. Boccaccio witnessed and described this pestilence.

1:77. Hecker, p. 82. The dancers often imagined themselves to be immersed in a stream of blood. They were habitually exorcised.

2:77. There is still an annual festival near Trèves in commemoration of the epidemic. Madden, vol. i. p. 420.

1:78. Hecker, p. 82.

2:78. Ennemoser, Hist. of Magic, vol. ii. p. 150.

I may here notice, by way of illustration, two facts in the history of art. The first is, that those ghastly pictures of the dance of death, which were afterwards so popular, and which represented an imaginative bias of such a wild and morbid power, began in the fourteenth century (Peignot sur les Danses des Morts, pp. 26-31). The second is, that in this same century the bas-reliefs on cathedrals frequently represent men kneeling down before the devil, and devoting themselves to him as his servants (Martonne, Piété du Moyen Age, p. 137).

1:84. Colloquia Mensalia. Erasmus was an equally firm believer in witchcraft. (Stewart's Dissertation, p 57.)

2:84. This coexistence has been noticed by many writers; and Naudé (Apologie, pp. 110, 111) observes, that nearly all the heresies previous to the Reformation had been also accompanied by an outburst of sorcery.

1:85. Buckle's Hist., vol. i. p. 424, note.

2:85. Calmeil.

3:85. For a frightful catalogue of the tortures that were employed in these cases, see Scott's Discovery of Witchcraft (London, 1665), pp. 11, 12. All the old treatises are full of the subject. Sprenger recommends the tortures to be continued two or three days, till the prisoner was, as he expresses it, 'decenter quæstionatus' (Pars iii. Quæst. 14, 15). The tortures were all the more horrible, because it was generally believed that the witches had charms to deaden their effect.

1:86. Spina, cap. xii.