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 [En attente de traduction] Weyer, Johann (1515–1588)

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Date d'inscription : 14/04/2010

MessageSujet: [En attente de traduction] Weyer, Johann (1515–1588)   Dim 18 Avr - 11:45

Weyer, Johann (1515–1588)

A German physician and demonologist. Johann Weyer became so moved by the brutal persecution of accused witches that he spoke out
strongly against the witch-hunters. Most witches, he said, were merely mentally disturbed, melancholic women who were incapable of harming any creature.
Weyer was born to a noble Protestant family in Brabant. He was a student of Agrippa von Nettesheim, who had successfully defended an accused witch and earned a bad reputation for doing so. Weyer studied medicine in Paris and became a physician, serving as a court physician
to the Duke of Cleves in the Netherlands. Weyer was alarmed by the mounting persecutions and brutal tortures of accused witches. He believed in the Devi l and his legions of demons but denied that the Devi l gave witches power to inflict harm upon mankind.
He thought belief in witchcraft was caused by the Devi l and that the Church was playing into Satan’s hands by promoting belief in the evil power of witches. Weyer set down his views in his book, De Praestigiis Daemonum, published in 1563. In it, he said most witches
were deluded old women, the outcasts of society, who were fools, not heretics. Some might wish harm on their neighbors but could not carry it out. If harm occurred coincidentally, they believed, in their delusion, that they had brought it about.
Weyer acknowledged that there were witches who made pacts with Satan (see Devi l’s pac t) but said that Satan, not the witches, caused harm. If such a witch killed cattle, for example, she did so by poison, not by supernatural means. He acknowledged that there were sorcerers who entered into demonic pacts for their own personal gain, but he believed that they were not the same as the helpless outcasts
who were being persecuted by the Church. Witches, he said, should be forgiven or, at the most, fined if they repented. He deplored the tortures and executions of victims and said that their confessions of Johann Weyer (Ioannis Wieri, De Lamiis Liber, 1577) sabbats, flying through the air, storm rai sing and such were meaningless.

Weyer was able to discourage witch-hunting in much of the Netherlands until he was forced out by the Catholic governor, the duke of Alba. Though he intended to inject a voice of reason into the witch hysteria, his book, unfortunately, had almost the opposite effect. Weyer was
savagely denounced by critics such as Jean Bodin and James I, who believed in evil witches and advocated their extermination. Bodin said copies of Weyer’s book should be burned. Books were written in refutation of Weyer and helped to stimulate further witch-hunts.
In 1568 Weyer published the Pseudo-Monarchy of Demons, an inventory and description of Satan’s legions. Weyer claimed that there were 7,405,926 devils and demons organized in 1,111 divisions of 6,666 each. Later, the Lutheran Church thought his estimate way too low
and raised the census of the demonic population to 2,665,866,746,664.

Further reading:
Lea, Henry Charles. Materials Toward a History of Witchcraft.
Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1939.
Trevor-Roper, H. R. The European Witch-Craze. New York:
Harper & Row, 1957.
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