Johann Wier
Johann Wier
Debating the Devil and Witches in Early Modern Europe
€ 106,00
Number of pages
Publication date
15.6 x 23.4 cm
Table of Contents
Show Table of ContentsHide Table of Contents
Chapter 1: History and Historiography: Wier and the witch hunts
Chapter 2: Wier’s early years and apprenticeship (1515-1557)
The early years
1.Agrippa and the French apprenticeship
2.Working in Gelderland and Cleves
3.Wier’s faith
Chapter 3: Inside the labyrinth of spells. The origin and development of the De Praestigiis Daemonum (1557-1568)
1. De Praestigiis
2.The theologian and the physician: what should be the punishment for witches?
3.Translations of the De Praestigiis
Chapter 4: Between magic and science
1.The circle of Oporinus
2.Against Paracelsus
Chapter 5: Vince te ipsum. Towards the twilight: from 1569 to 1588
1.The twilight
2.Against Scalichius
3.Wier the physician
Chapter 6: Demons, sorcerers, and witches
1.Satan and his army
4.The distinction between sorcerers and witches
Chapter 7: Erasmus posuit ova, Wierus eduxit pullos
1.A tolerant Erasmus?
2.The influence of Erasmus on Wier
Chapter 8: ‘Ille Sagarum Patronus…’ Between success and condemnation: the debate on the De Praestigiis
1.Thomas Erastus
2.Jean Bodin
3.Reginald Scot
4.Peter Binsfeld
5.Johann Georg Godelmann
6.King James VI of England
7.Wier’s legacy in the 17th Century
8.After Descartes: the ‘disenchanted’ world

Michaela Valente

Johann Wier

Debating the Devil and Witches in Early Modern Europe

This book deals with a fascinating and original claim in 16th-century Europe. Witches should be cured, not executed. It was the physician and scholar Johann Wier (1515-1588) who challenged the dominant idea. For his defense of witches, more than three centuries later, Sigmund Freud chose to put Wier’s work among the ten books to be read. According to Wier, Satan seduced witches, thus they did not deserve to be executed, but they must be cured for their melancholy. When the witch hunt was rising, Wier was the first to use some of the arguments adopted in the emerging debate on religious tolerance in defence of witches. This is the first overall study of Wier which offers an innovative view of his thought by highlighting Wier’s sources and his attempts to involve theologians, physicians, and philosophers in his fight against cruel witch hunts. Johann Wier: Debating the Devil and Witches situates and explains his claim as a result of a moral and religious path as well as the outcome of his medical experience. The book aims to provide an insightful examination of Wier’s works to read his pleas emphasizing the duty of every good Christian to not abandon anyone who strays from the flock of Christ. For these reasons, Wier was overwhelmed by bitter confutations, such as those of Jean Bodin, but he was also celebrated for his outstanding and prolific heritage for debating religious tolerance.

Michaela Valente

Prof Michaela Valente was awarded a Ph.D. in Early Modern History at the University "La Sapienza" in Rome in 2000. Since 2005 she has been Professore Associato of Early Modern History at Università del Molise and "La Sapienza", Università di Roma. She has published essays and books on Jean Bodin, on the demonological debate, and on the Roman Inquisition.