(SCOTT, Walter.) REMY, Nicholas.

Daemonolatreiae libri tres,

ex iudiciis capitalibus nongentorum plus minus hominum qui sortilegii crimen intra annos quindecim in Lotharingia capite luerunt.

Lyon: Vincent, 1595 Stock Code: 123052
£27,500.00

"Rather curious, and may not be undeserving a place on your shelves"—Walter Scott

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Notes

Rare first edition of this seminal work on the worship of demons, Sir Walter Scott's copy, with his ownership inscription on the title page and his library shelf mark on the front free endpaper: "Abbotsford Library O13". Scott's fascination with witchcraft led him to spend years gathering "perhaps the most curious library of diablerie that man ever collected" (Lockhart, p. 118). Scott's use of the present work is clear not only in his Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft (1830), in which, in Letter VII, he references the author's boast to have put to death over 900 people, but also in The Bride of Lammermoor (1819) and The Antiquary (1816). First editions of this work are uncommon; the last two copies to appear at auction were in 1970 and 1990, both in worse condition than this copy, and neither with such appealing provenance.

Scott subsequently gifted this copy to his close friend, the important Scottish antiquary, Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe (1781-1851) in 1824, the occasion noted by Sharpe on the front pastedown: "Chas Kirkpatrick Sharpe from Sir W. Scott. Bart. 1824". Scott wrote to Sharpe in October 1824 thanking Sharpe for the return of some manuscript ballads and presenting him with a box of duplicates from his library: "your kindness in accepting the trifles I sent will impose upon you the trouble of inspecting a small box herewith sent, which contains a number of duplicates, from which I entreat you to select all such as you are not provided with. Some, I think, are rather curious, and may not be undeserving a place on your shelves" (Allardyce, vol. I, p. 315). This copy, marked as a duplicate in Scott's hand on the title page, was likely among them. Sharpe and Scott shared an antiquarian interest in both collecting and witchcraft. Sharpe contributed two songs to the second volume of Scott's Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border (1803), and "his introduction to Robert Law's Memorialls (1818), written at Scott's suggestion and with the use of his library, remains to this day a standard history of witchcraft in Scotland" (ODNB). Sharpe's collection was dispersed at his death, "either in two sales which lasted in total nearly a fortnight, or to various beneficiaries under his will" (ibid.).

Nicholas Rémy (c.1530-1616) composed this work, one of the most influential witch-hunting manuals of the period, from his extensive trial notes taken over a period of 15 years as a judge. "For Rémy, Satan, his demons, and his witches manifested the pollution of Christendom... and polluted everything: marriage and the family, the human body, social relationships, nature, and the Church" (Golden, p. 27). In the text he explicitly sets out the ways in which destruction-seeking demons were using human servants to poison, defile, and penetrate Christendom, with the ultimate goal of destroying humanity. "The sabbat with its perversities was no exotic, erotic, and neurotic sideshow for Remy, but dangerous reality that included classes where the devil taught witches how to commit crimes with magic." (Golden, p. 30).

The Duke Charles III of Lorraine, to whom Rémy became privy councillor, had tasked him with cleansing Lorraine of witches and of the moral and physical pollution they brought; a task he tackled with great zeal, quickly progressing to the most powerful office he could have been granted: "procureur-général", giving him unrestricted jurisdiction over the entirety of the duchy. "Approximately 3,000 witchcraft trials took place in Lorraine between 1580 and 1630, with a conviction rate of almost 90... and Rémy deserves his infamous reputation as the "scourge of witches" (a term used in his own day) and as the Torquemada of Lorraine" (Golden, p. 23). His personal execution tally is believed to be around 2,000 witches for, although the treatise mentions 900, it was compiled in July 1592 and only published three years later. "The rekindling of interest in witchcraft that took place after 1560, when a new and larger wave of persecution began, helped the genre take off, as a clutch of writers like del Rio, Boguet, Daneau, Binsfeld and Remy developed its potential" (Roper, p. 122). Following the first edition, the Daemonolatreiae was reissued the following year at Cologne and in German translation at Frankfurt, which "was extremely influential in the Holy Roman Empire, possibly even more so than the Malleus" (ibid., p. 123).

This copy also has an interesting double early provenance: the first locates it in Cologne the same year as its publication in that city, with "Est in 8 pic/t/s/gam Colon. 1596" inked on the front free endpaper verso. A hub of academic learning and printing, Cologne was also "caught up to some extent in the major witch panics around 1590 with the Duchy of Westphalia and the Archbishopric of Cologne leading the way" (Waite, p. 162). The second, inked on the title page nearly half a century later, is "Demus Prof. soc Issu Ant. 1640", locating it at the Jesuit professed house at Antwerp. The house, established in 1562, was a centre of intellectual activity in the city and deeply involved in the development of printing in Antwerp. Demonological texts would have been of keen interest to the inhabitants of religious houses such as this. Antwerp-born Martin Delrio, the famous Jesuit theologian and authority on witchcraft during the sixteenth century, cited Remy's Daemonolatreiae in his own treatise, Disquisitiones Magicae (1599), and would have made use of the libraries of such Jesuit houses for his research (Davies, p. 83).

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Description

Small quarto (237 x 147 mm). Contemporary vellum, manuscript title to spine, ties absent. Housed in a late 19th century dark red quarter morocco slipcase, spine gilt lettered direct, thistle motifs in compartments, dark red cloth sides, matching chemise (lacking silk pull-tab).

Illustrations

Decorative initials, head- and tailpieces.

Condition

Stylised pencil inscription "EB 1854" in pencil to front pastedown. Couple of marks to vellum as usual, some chipping to edges and paper reinforcements to endpapers, small tear to head of spine, thumbed, but internally clean, short closed tear to pp. 279-80; a very good, remarkably fresh, copy. Slipcase rubbed at extremities and faded in patches.

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