Demonolatry: An Account of the Historical Practice of Witchcraft


In an era when the church and its people actually believed in a universal infection of heresy and sorcery, they turned to this book for guidance. Daemonolatreiae, first published in France in 1595, was the leading witchcraft handbook of its day. In addition to defining the black arts and their practitioners—making it possible to "recognize" witches—it offered civil and religious authorities directives for persecution of the accused and punishment of the condemned.
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Demonolatry: An Account of the Historical Practice of Witchcraft

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In an era when the church and its people actually believed in a universal infection of heresy and sorcery, they turned to this book for guidance. Daemonolatreiae, first published in France in 1595, was the leading witchcraft handbook of its day. In addition to defining the black arts and their practitioners—making it possible to "recognize" witches—it offered civil and religious authorities directives for persecution of the accused and punishment of the condemned.
This book amplified and updated Malleus Maleficarum, the 1486 opus that established trial procedures for charges of heresy and witchcraft. Its author, Nicolas Remy, was a notorious magistrate who boasted of having personally condemned and burned hundreds of witches. Remy's collection of notes, opinions, and court records features lurid details of satanic pacts and sexual perversity as well as the particulars of numerous trials. A work of tremendous historical significance, this volume is complemented by an introduction and notes by Montague Summers, a celebrated occult historian and expert on witchcraft and supernatural lore.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780486461373
  • Publisher: Dover Publications
  • Publication date: 1/11/2008
  • Series: Dover Occult Series
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 1,358,861
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.50 (d)

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An Account of the Historical Practice of Witchcraft

By Nicolas Remy, Montague Summers, E. A. ASHWIN

Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 2008 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-79171-5


The Inducements by which Men may first be led astray by Demons, and so falling become Dealers in Magic.

EXPERIENCE itself, to our own great loss and bane, affords us sad proof that Satan seizes as many opportunities of deceiving and destroying mankind as there are different moods and affections natural to the human character. For such as are given over to their lusts and to love he wins by offering them the hope of gaining their desires: or if they are bowed under the load of daily poverty, he allures them by some large and ample promise of riches: or he tempts them by showing them the means of avenging themselves when they have been angered by some injury or hurt received: in short, by whatever other corruption or luxury they have been depraved, he draws them into his power and holds them as it were bound to him. But it is not our purpose to discuss here what are those blind passions and desires by which men may be led into sin; for it would be a waste of time and an abuse of learning to involve ourselves in the much-worn controversy between Prometheus and Epimetheus, reason and appetite. That we pass by, and say that Satan assails mankind not only through their secret and domestic affections and (if I may so express it) by burrowing into their very hearts, but also openly and in declared warfare, as it is called. For he openly addresses them by word of mouth, and appears in visible person to converse with them, as he did when he contended with the Saviour in the wilderness (S. Matthew iv). But this he does the more easily when he finds a man weakened by the hardships and cares of life; for then he suggests to the man that he is grieved at his misfortunes and is willing to come to help him. But not even so can he aid and assist any man unless that man has broken his baptismal pledge and agreed to transfer his allegiance to him and acknowledge him as his Master. But if he cannot gain his object in this way by mere persuasion, then Satan employs those allurements and temptations which I have already mentioned: he fabricates some fair and delectable body and offers it for a man's enjoyment: or he can do much by means of a false display of riches: or by providing drugs to poison those upon whom a man wishes to be avenged, or to heal those to whom a man owes a debt of gratitude: often, indeed, the Demons forcibly drive and compel men into compliance by fierce threats and revilings, or by the fear of the lash or prison. For men may just as easily be led by violence to practise sorcery as by coaxing and blandishment, though I shall not here adduce examples to substantiate this statement, since this matter will be considered more fully in its due place: for the present I am content to say that I have found it to be the rarer case for a sorcerer to be driven by force into his abominable practices.

The truth is that, when Satan cannot move a man by fair words, he compels him by fear and threats of danger. When Claude Morèle, who was convicted of witchcraft at Serre (5th Dec., 1586), was asked what was the chief inducement that had first led him to give himself to the Demon, he answered that he had withstood the temptation of all the Demon's fair words, and had only yielded when Satan had threatened to kill his wife and children. At Guermingen, 19th Dec., 1589, Antoine Welch no longer dared to oppose the Demon in anything after he had threatened to twist his neck unless he obeyed his commands, for he seemed on the very point of fulfilling his threat. At Harécourt, 10th Nov., 1586, when he could by no promises persuade Alexée Driget to dedicate herself to him, the Demon at last threatened to destroy the house in which she lived: and this misfortune indeed befell her not long afterwards; but it will be more convenient to discuss elsewhere whether he was the actual cause of it, or whether he merely foresaw that it would happen. Certainly there are many examples in the pagan histories of houses being cast down, the destruction of the crops, chasms in the earth, fiery blasts and other such disastrous tempests stirred up by Demons for the destruction of men for no other purpose than to bind their minds to the observance of some new cult and to establish their mastery more and more firmly over them.

Therefore we may first conclude that it is no mere fable that witches meet and converse with Demons in very person. Secondly, it is clear that Demons use the two most powerful weapons of persuasion against the feeble wills of mortals, namely, hope and fear, desire and terror; for they well know how to induce and inspire such emotions.


How Demons prepare, for those whom they have won by their Cunning, Drugged Powders, Wands, Ointments and Various Venoms of the sort: some of which cause Death, some only Sickness, and some even Healing. And how these things are not always, or for all Men, poisonous: since there may be found some who are uninjured by frequent Applications of them, notably they whose Office and Business it is to condemn Witches to Death.

FROM the very beginning the Devil was a murderer (S. John viii), and never has he ceased to tempt the impious to commit slaughter and parricide. Therefore it is no wonder that, once he has caught men in his toils, his first care is to furnish them with the implements and instruct them in the practices of witchcraft. And lest the business should be delayed or hindered through lack of poison or difficulty in administering it, he provides them at the very first with a fine powder which must infallibly cause the sickness or death of those against whom it is used: nor does its harmfulness of necessity depend upon its being mingled with a man's food or drink, or applied to his bare flesh; for it is enough if but his clothes be lightly dusted with it. The powder which kills is black; that which only causes sickness is ashen, or sometimes reddish in colour. And since witches are often led by fear or bribery, and sometimes even by pity (of which they claim that they are not entirely destitute), to heal those who have been stricken in this manner, they are not without a remedy to their hand; for they are given a third powder, white in colour, with which they dust the sick, or mix it with their food or drink, and so the sickness is dispersed. And these drugs of varying properties and virtue are distinguishable only by their colour. Claude Fellet (at Mazières, 9th Nov., 1584), Jeanne le Ban (at Masmunster, 3rd Jan., 1585), Colette Fischer (at Gerbeville, 7th May, 1585), and nearly all the women of their fellowship, record that they always found the effects of their powders such as we have said. But this distinction in the colours is not so much to ensure the selection of the required poison (for the drugs owe their potency to the Demon, not to any inherent properties of their own), as a visible sign of the pact between the witch and the Demon, and a guarantee of faith. Matteole Guilleraea (at Mazières, 4th Dec, 1584) and Jeanne Alberte (at S. Pierre-Mont, 8th Nov., 1581) add that although the ashen-coloured powder does not as a rule cause a fatal sickness, it has nevertheless the power to kill when it is first received by witches after their enlistment in that army of wickedness; for that initial step has a kind of preference.

But it is a matter of no small wonder that witches not only impregnate with such poisons articles of which the purpose and use is to drive away Demons, but even make use of them during the very time of prayer and the performance of the Sacraments. At Seaulx, 11th Oct., 1587, Jacobeta Weher was envious of the lover of the daughter of her fellow- countrymen Pétrone, but could not injure her as she wished; for the girl had emphatically bidden her beware of trying to harm her. But at last, under pretext of doing something else, she infected an asperge with the poison powder and sprinkled the girl with it as she was praying in church: and at once she was stricken with a mortal sickness and soon after died. At Blainville, 16th Jan., 1587, the whole neighbourhood, except Alexée Belheure, had been invited to a feast given by a noble knight named Darnielle on the occasion of his son's baptism. Ill brooking this slight, she evaded the observation of those who were carrying the newly baptized child and, sprinkling it with a poison powder of this kind, killed it.

And since it is not convenient for them always to keep this powder ready in their hand to throw, they have also wands imbued with it or smeared with some unguent or other venomous matter, which they commonly carry as if for driving cattle. With these they often, as it were in joke, strike the men or the cattle which they wish to injure: and that this is no vain or innocent touch is testified by the confessions of François Fellet (at Mazières, 19th Dec, 1583), Marguereta Warner (at Ronchamp, 1st Dec., 1586), Matteole Guilleret (at Pagny-sur-Moselle, 1584), and Jacobeta Weher whom I have just mentioned.

Yet there are those who, thanks to some singular blessing from Heaven, are immune from such attacks; for witches have not always unlimited power against all men, as Jeanne Gransaint (at Condé-sur-l'Escaut, July, 1582) and Catharina Ruffe (at Ville-sur-Moselle, 28th July, 1587) have recorded that they were more than once informed by their Demons. I remember questioning that woman of Nancy called Lasnier (Asinaria), from her husband the ass-driver, upon the statements of the witnesses, and especially concerning this particular point; and she spoke with great indignation as follows: "It is well for you Judges that we can do nothing against you! For there are none upon whom we would more gladly work our spite than you who are always harrying us folk with every torture and punishment." Jaqueline Xaluëtia (at Grand-Bouxières-sous-Amance, 29th April, 1588), freely and without any previous questioning, acknowledged the same. This woman, having long been suspected of witchcraft, was put in chains; but after a little she was liberated by order of the Judge, because she had endured all the torture of her questioning in an obstinate silence. After much turning of the matter over in her mind, she could not rest until she had worked some evil upon the Judge who had treated her with such severity; for the filthy rabble of witches is commonly desirous of revenge. Therefore she ceased not to pester her Demon to find some safe and easy way for her to vent her spite: but he, knowing her folly towards herself in this matter, kept pleading different excuses for postponing the affair and inventing reasons why he should not comply with her wish. But at length, since Xaluëtia did not cease to importune him, he told her in shame and grief that, in place of that fortune which he had often foretold for her, her own folly and impotence would be exposed and would betray her. "I have always, my Xaluëtia," he said, "endured very hardly the unbridled severity of those executioners towards you, and often in the past have I had a mind to be revenged: but I openly admit that all my attempts come to nothing. For they are in His guardianship and protection who alone can oppose my designs. But I can repay these officers for their persecutions by causing them to share in a common disaster, and will strike the crops and the fields far and wide with a tempest and lay them waste as much as I am able."

This is not unlike the statement of Nicole Morèle (at Serre, 24th Jan., 1587), that Demons are impregnated and seared with an especial hatred towards those who put into operation the law against witches, but that it is in vain that they attempt or seek to wreak any vengeance against them. See how God defends and protects the authority of those to whom He has given the mandate of His power upon earth, and how He has therefore made them partakers of His prerogative and honour, calling them Gods even as Himself (Ps. lxxxii): so that without doubt they are sacrosanct and, by reason of their duty and their office, invulnerable even to the spells of witches. Indeed they are not even bound in the least by the commands of the Demons themselves, even though they may have previously vowed allegiance to them and have been touched with the stain of that oath. For that witches benefit by the protection of the sanctity of a Magistrate's office (at least for as long as they hold such office), so that they are free from all the most importunate complaints and instigations of their Little Masters, who testified by Didier Finance (at Saint-Dié, 14th July, 1581), who said that during the whole period of his magistracy he never once saw his familiar spirit, who at all other times had been his most sedulous adviser on every occasion. Therefore let the Magistrate undertake his duties with confidence, knowing that he is pursuing a vocation in which he will always have God as his champion and protector. By reason of a like sanctity Marcus, in the De Operatione Daemonum of Psellus, tells that his Demon uttered no sound upon the days when the Crucifixion and Resurrection are commemorated, although he strove his utmost to do so. Moreover, the poisons which Demons give to witches are thus harmless only to those Judges whom I have just mentioned: for there can be no doubt that the poisons which they gather and concoct with their own hands are equally injurious to all men else and are imbued with equal venom against all. It has, moreover, often been proved by experience that witches also have their own laboratories stuffed full of animals, plants and metals endowed with some natural poison; and these are so numerous and various that they may be reckoned as many as those which Agamede in Homer (Iliad, xi. 741) is said to have known:

"Who knew all poisons that the wide earth breeds."

For they are in the discipline and service of that Master who is ignorant of nothing which has power to destroy men.

But I would rather that such matters remain hidden in the bosom of Nature than that, through my naming them, they should come to any man's knowledge. And it is for this reason that I have always been led, whenever I have found such things written down in the examination of prisoners, to have them altogether suppressed: or at least I would advise, or rather admonish, the actuary to omit them when he reads out such examinations in public. For in Lorraine it is the custom to refer the judgement of capital crimes to the votes of the ignorant and excited multitude, giving them full power, and having no regard to the provocation caused by a public exhibition of the accused; although this is contrary to the recommendation of the Duumvirs of Nancy, to whom the whole matter should first be referred. Would that these matters were not now so publicly known! But it has indeed come to pass after the wont of mankind, who with impetuous rashness thrust into the light those matters which should more particularly be kept hidden; and the memory of such things lives longer and is often more curious and pleasant to dwell upon than that of natural human happenings. In this way the Scholiast of Theocritus wrote that after many ages he saw with wonder at Mount Selinus in Sicily the very mortars in which Circe and Medea brewed their poisons. And if men have so prized the mere implements, as if they were the earthen lamp of Epictetus, what must we think they would have done if they had found the actual poisons, or the secret rule of compounding them inscribed upon some monument?


That Witches can with safety anoint their Hands and their entire Bodies with their Magic Ointments: yet if they but touch the Edge of a Person's Garment it will at once prove fatal to such a one, provided that it is the Witch's intent to Hurt. For otherwise such Contact is harmless and does not injure.

WITCHES have another most treacherous manner of applying their poison; for, having their hands smeared with it, they take hold of the very ends of a man's garment as it were to entreat and propitiate him. Thus it is hardly possible for you to be on your guard and avoid them, since the action has an appearance of kindness rather than of injury. Nevertheless, it is a most instant poison to the body, as has been made manifest by frequent experience: and it is the more marvellous because the witch's bare hand endures with complete safety the poison which thus penetrates even several folds of clothing. You may say that there have been men who have transmitted the infection of the plague to others although they themselves were free from it; but this is not a parallel case. For, as will be explained elsewhere (Bk. I, Chap. XXXVII), this touch of a witch is noxious and fatal only to those whom the witch wishes to injure: whereas the infection of the plague strikes those whom you least wish to harm. And this forces me to believe that, in the case we are considering, something is due to the hidden ministry of the Demon, which does not appear but works in secret; and that the unguent is merely the outward symbol of the wretched witch's complicity in the crime under the guidance and advice of the Demon. Indeed we know from experience that the poison can with impunity be handled and touched by anybody after the witches have been thrown into prison and have renounced their partnership with the Demon; and the officers who are sent to search for their boxes of poison are able to bring them back in their hands with safety.


Excerpted from Demonolatry by Nicolas Remy, Montague Summers, E. A. ASHWIN. Copyright © 2008 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

To the Courteous Reader
Gratulatory Verses
Editor's Introduction
Editor's Foreword
The 1st Book
1. The Inducements by which men may first be led astray by Demons....
2. How Demons prepare, for those whom they have won by their Cunning....
3. That Witches can with safety anoint their Hands with their entire Bodies with their Magic Ointments....
4. That when Demons first approach their Followers, they bring them Money....
5. That it is not enough for Demons to hold Men bound and fettered by a Verbal Oath....
6. That Demons lie with Men, but in a Manner which is Cold, Joyless....
7. That Demons condense for themselves a Body out of some Matter and assume the Shapes of various Living Things....
8. That Demons use the Speech of the Women with whom they Converse....
9. That Satan often Deludes men by an Appearances of Righteousness....
10. The essential Filthiness of Demons is proved by the Fact that their Appearance is always accompanied by a Loathsome Stench....
11. That Witches, just as they are said to have done in Ancient Heathen Days....
12. That when Witches mean to Fly to their Sabbat....
13. That there are many Faults for which the Demons bring Witches to task with the utmost Severity....
14. That Witches do often really and in fact Travel to their Nocturnal Synagogues....
15. That all kinds of Persons attend the Nocturnal Assemblies of Demons in Large Numbers....
16. That the Food placed before Witches at their Banquets is Tasteless and Mean....
17. That the Dances, which were in Ancient Days performed in the Worship of Demons....
18. That Witches bind themselves by a Solemn Oath, which they repeat after the Demon himself....
19. However joyless and even ridiculous the Songs and Dances at the Demons' Assemblies....
20. That Demons order their Assemblies after the Manner of Men....
21. That Demons often send upon the Fruits and Crops great Numbers of Small Animals of Different Sorts....
22. That Witches must always have to report some Fresh Injury worked upon a Fellow creature since their last Meeting....
23. That Demons change themselves for the time into the Shapes of Various Animals according to their Requirements....
24. The Transvection of Men through the Air by Good Angels....
25. However incredible it may appear, yet all Witches with one Voice declare that they are often endued by their Demons with the Power of raising the Clouds....
26. The Sounds of Bell, because they call men to Holy Prayer....
27. that which is struck by Lightning is often seen to be Marked and Scored as it were by Claws.....
28. They are in Error who, following the Epicureans....
29. Not only are Witches, as has already been said, carried through the Air by Demons....
The 2nd Book
1. That it is not in the Demon's Power to recall the Souls ofo the Dead to their Bodies....
2. The Taint of Witchcraft is often passed on as it were by Contagion by infected Parents to their Children.....
3. That Witches make Evil Use of Human Corpses....
4. That the Snares set by Witches for Mankind can with the greatest Difficulty be avoided.....
5. That the much-talked-of Examples of Metamorphosis, both in Ancient and Recent Times, were true in Appearance only....
6. That Satan often compels his Subjects to be accessory to his Dark Deeds....
7. Examples of the Various Ills that Witches secretly bring upon Men....
8. The Herbs, Powder, Straws, and other such Trash which Witches strew on the Ground are a certain Cause of Death or Illness....
9. For what Reason it is that the Devil often demands the Witches' Consent when he is Plotting and contriving Evil against anyone....
10.-15. More Examples to the same Effect....
The 3rd Book
1. That when we would have the Saints to be the Authors of Sicknesses.....
2. More of the Cunning of Demons in Destroying and Polluting Mankind
3. That there is nothing which can so quickly and effectively induce Witches to remove an Evil Spell....
4. That the Cures of Demons are always disguised under some Appearance of Religion....
5. That there are many Obstacles which are admitted by Witches to hinder them from Curing the Ills which they have brought upon Others.....
6. Thath as an End to a Life of every Crime and Impiety, the Demon insistently urges and impels his Subjects to kill themselves with their own Hand....
7. Some further Examples in Illustration of the above Argument
8. That the Demon's Grip is very Tenacious and cannot easily be loosed once it has taken a Hold....
9. That there are many methods used by the Judges of our Day before they bring a Witch to the Torture....
10. That Knowledge of the Future belongs to God....
11. That it need not seem marvellous to anyone that the Demons remain with their Disciples even during the Sessions of the Court.....
12. That they are in Error who deny that Witches ought to be punished at all....

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