Witches, ghosts, fairies. Premodern Europe was filled with strange creatures, with the devil lurking behind them all. But were his powers real? Did his powers have limits? Or were tales of the demonic all one grand illusion? Physicians, lawyers, and theologians at different times and places answered these questions differently and disagreed bitterly.

The demonic took many forms in medieval and early modern Europe. By examining individual authors from across the continent, this book reveals the many purposes to which the devil could be put, both during the late medieval fight against heresy and during the age of Reformations. It explores what it was like to live with demons, and how careers and identities were constructed out of battles against them – or against those who granted them too much power. Together, contributors chart the history of the devil from his emergence during the 1300s as a threatening figure – who made pacts with human allies and appeared bodily – through to the comprehensive but controversial demonologies of the turn of the seventeenth century, when European witch-hunting entered its deadliest phase.

This book is essential reading for all students and researchers of the history of the supernatural in medieval and early modern Europe.

chapter |16 pages


The science of demons
ByJan Machielsen

part Part 1|34 pages


chapter 1|16 pages

The inquisitor’s demons

Nicolau Eymeric’s Directorium inquisitorum
ByPau Castell Granados

chapter 2|16 pages

Promoter of the sabbat and diabolical realism

Nicolas Jacquier’s Flagellum hereticorum fascinariorum
ByMartine Ostorero, Jan Machielsen

part Part 2|50 pages

The first wave of printed witchcraft texts

chapter 3|15 pages

The bestselling demonologist

Heinrich Institoris’s Malleus maleficarum
ByTamar Herzig

chapter 4|15 pages

Lawyers versus inquisitors

Ponzinibio’s De lamiis and Spina’s De strigibus
ByMatteo Duni

chapter 5|18 pages

The witch-hunting humanist

Gianfrancesco Pico della Mirandola’s Strix
ByWalter Stephens

part Part 3|94 pages

The sixteenth-century debate

chapter 6|16 pages

‘Against the devil, the subtle and cunning enemy’

Johann Wier’s De praestigiis daemonum
ByMichaela Valente

chapter 7|14 pages

The will to know and the unknowable

Jean Bodin’s De La Démonomanie
ByVirginia Krause

chapter 8|16 pages

Doubt and demonology

Reginald Scot’s The Discoverie of Witchcraft
ByPhilip C. Almond

chapter 9|16 pages

Demonology and anti-demonology

Binsfeld’s De confessionibus and Loos’s De vera et falsa magia
ByRita Voltmer

chapter 10|14 pages

A royal witch theorist

James VI’s Daemonologie
ByP. G. Maxwell-Stuart

chapter 11|16 pages

Demonology as textual scholarship

Martin Delrio’s Disquisitiones magicae
ByJan Machielsen

part Part 4|72 pages

Demonology and theology

chapter 12|14 pages

‘Of ghostes and spirites walking by nyght’

Ludwig Lavater’s Von Gespänsten
ByPierre Kapitaniak

chapter 13|13 pages

A Spanish demonologist during the French Wars of Religion

Juan Maldonado’s Traicté des anges et demons
ByFabián Alejandro Campagne

chapter 14|14 pages

Scourging demons with exorcism

Girolamo Menghi’s Flagellum daemonum
ByGuido Dall’Olio, Jan Machielsen

chapter 15|14 pages

The ambivalent demonologist

William Perkins’s Discourse of the Damned Art of Witchcraft
ByLeif Dixon

chapter 16|15 pages

Piety and purification

The anonymous Czarownica powołana
ByMichael Ostling

part Part 5|46 pages

Demonology and law

chapter 17|14 pages

An untrustworthy reporter

Nicolas Remy’s Daemonolatreiae libri tres
ByRobin Briggs

chapter 18|16 pages

The mythmaker of the sabbat

Pierre de Lancre’s Tableau de l’inconstance des mauvais anges et démons
ByThibaut Maus de Rolley, Jan Machielsen

chapter 19|14 pages

An expert lawyer and reluctant demonologist

Alonso de Salazar Frías, Spanish Inquisitor
ByLu Ann Homza