Johannes Nider ( – ) was a German theologian and member of the Dominican order. His work Formicarius, published around , is an important. Dec 13, Johannes Nider’s Formicarius was a demonological treatise written during the Council of Basel in Switzerland. Nider’s treatise detailed the. THE BEGINNINGS OF THE WITCH-PERSECUTIONS. 1. WITCH-PERSECUTION IN THE EARLIER FIFTEENTH CENTURY. Nider, Formicarius, ed. of Augsburg.
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One of the earliest books which throws light upon the methods of the persecutions is the Formicariusor “Ant-Hill,” of the Dominican theological professor, Johannes Nider, written, in its final form, about The work is an edifying dialogue between a theologian and a doubter as to sundry topics difficult to faith; and its fifth and final book is devoted to “witches and their deceptions.
I will relate to you some examples, which I have gained in part from the teachers of our faculty, in part from the experience of a certain upright secular judge, worthy of all faith, who from the torture and confession of witches and from his experiences in public and private has learned many things of this sort–a man with whom I have often discussed this subject broadly and deeply–to wit, Peter, a citizen of Bern, in the diocese of Lausanne, who has burned many Witches of both sexes, and has driven others out of the territory of the Bernese.
Relating then two or three anecdotes derived from these sources, the theologian closes his answer with this one:. The same procedure was more clearly described by another young man, arrested and burned as a witch, although, as I believe, truly, penitent.
The aforesaid youth, being again indicted at Bern, with his wife, and placed in a different prison from hers, declared: The ceremony, he said, of my seduction was as follows: First, on a Sunday, before the holy water is consecrated, the future disciple with his masters must go into the church, and there in their presence must renounce Christ and his faith, baptism, and the church universal.
Then he must do homage to the magisterulusthat is, to the little master for so, and not otherwise, they call the Devil. After this fashion was I seduced; and my wife also, whom I believe of so great pertinacity that she will endure the flames rather than confess the least whit of the truth; but, alas, we are both guilty.
What the young man had said was found in all respects the truth.
For, after confession, the young man was seen to die in great contrition. His wife, however, though convicted by the testimony of witnesses, would not confess the truth even under nidre torture or in death; but, when the fire was prepared for her by the executioner, uttered in most evil words a curse upon him, and so was burned. Bullarium Romanum Taurinensis editiosub anno The bull is also nided in full at the head of the Malleus maleficarumdescribed below.
Despite the efforts of the Dominicans, it was with much difficulty that the new terror of witchcraft and the persecution based on it were spread throughout Europe.
II. The Beginnings of the Witch-Persecutions.
In Germany, especially, the Inquisitors charged with the task found themselves hampered by skepticism. This bull, known from its first formicadius as Summis desiderantesruns as follows:. Desiring with supreme ardor, as pastoral solicitude requires, that the catholic faith in our days everywhere grow and flourish as much as possible, and that all heretical pravity be put far from the territories of the faithful, we freely declare and anew decree this by which our pious desire may be fulfilled, and, all errors being rooted out by our toil as with the hoe of a wise laborer, zeal and devotion to this faith may take deeper hold on the hearts flrmicarius the faithful themselves.
And, although our beloved sons Henricus Institoris and Jacobus Sprenger, of the order of Friars Preachers, professors of theology, have formivarius and still are deputed by our apostolic letters as inquisitors of heretical pravity, the former in the aforesaid parts of upper Germany, including the provinces, cities, territories, dioceses, and other places as above, and the latter throughout certain parts of the course of the Rhine; Nevertheless certain of the clergy and of the laity of those parts, seeking to be wise above what is fitting, because in the said letter of deputation the.
Wherefore in the provinces, cities, dioceses, territories, and places aforesaid such offences and crimes, not without evident damage to their souls and risk of eternal salvation, go unpunished. We therefore, desiring, as is our duty, to remove all impediments by which in any way the said inquisitors are hindered in the exercise of their office, and to prevent the taint of heretical pravity and of other like evils from spreading their infection to the ruin of others who are innocent, the zeal of religion especially impelling us, in order that the provinces, cities, dioceses, territories, and places aforesaid in the said parts of upper Germany may not be deprived of the office of inquisition which is their due, do hereby decree, by virtue of our apostolic authority, that it shall be permitted to the said inquisitors in these regions to exercise their office of inquisition and to proceed to the correction, imprisonment, and punishment nide the aforesaid persons for their said offences and crimes, in all respects and altogether precisely as if the provinces, cities, territories, places, persons, and offences aforesaid were expressly named in the said letter.
And, for the greater sureness, extending the said letter and deputation to the provinces, cities, dioceses, territories, places, persons, and crimes aforesaid, we grant to the said inquisitors that they or either of them, joining with them our beloved son Johannes Gremper, cleric of the diocese of Constance, master of arts, their present notary, or any other notary public who by them or by either of them shall have been temporarily delegated in the provinces, cities, dioceses, territories, and places aforesaid, may exercise against all persons, of whatsoever condition and rank, the said office of inquisition, correcting, imprisoning, punishing, and chastising, according to their deserts, those nidr whom they shall find guilty as aforesaid.
And they shall also have full and entire liberty to propound and preach to the faithful the word of God, as ofrmicarius as it shall seem to them fitting and proper, in each and all of the parish churches in the said provinces, and to do all things necessary and suitable under rormicarius aforesaid circumstances, and likewise freely and fully to carry them out.
And this, all other apostolic decrees and earlier decisions to the contrary notwithstanding; or if to any, jointly or severally, there has been granted by this apostolic see exemption from interdict, suspension, or excommunication, by apostolic letters not making entire, express, and literal mention of the said grant of exemption; or if there exist any other indulgence whatsoever, general or special, of whatsoever tenor, by failure to name which or to insert it bodily in the present letter the carrying out of this privilege could be hindered or in any way put off, or any of whose whole tenor special mention must be made in our letters.
Let no man, therefore, dare to infringe this page of our declaration, extension, grant, and mandate, or with rash hardihood to contradict it. If any presume to attempt this, let him know that he incurs the wrath of almighty God and of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul. Given in Rome, at St.
Peter’s, in the year of Our Lord’s incarnationon the nones of December, in the first year of our pontificate. Even when armed with the papal bull, the German Inquisitors found their preparation incomplete.
Soon after their return from Rome they set themselves at the compilation of a hand-book which should leave no judge an excuse for laxity–an exposition of witchcraft and a code of procedure for the detection and punishment of witches. The method of beginning an examination by torture is as follows: First, the jailers prepare the implements of torture, then they strip the prisoner if it be a woman, she has already been stripped by other women, upright and of good report.
And when the implements of torture have been prepared, the judge, both in person and through other good men zealous in the faith, tries to persuade the prisoner to confess the truth freely; but, if he will not confess, he bids attendants make the prisoner fast to the strappado or some other implement of torture.
viaLibri ~ Formicarius [Witchcraft and Demonology]
The attendants obey forthwith, yet with feigned agitation. Then, at the prayer of some of those present, the prisoner is loosed again and is taken aside and once more persuaded to confess, being led to believe that be will in that case not be put to death. Here it may be asked whether the judge, in the case of a prisoner much defamed, convicted both by witnesses and by proofs, nothing being lacking but his own confession, can properly lead him to hope that his life will be spared–when, even if he confess his crime, he will be punished with death.
It must be answered that opinions vary. Some hold that even a witch of very ill repute, against whom the evidence justifies violent suspicion, and who, as a ringleader of the witches, is accounted very dangerous, may be assured her life, and condemned instead to perpetual imprisonment on bread and water, in case she will give sure and convincing testimony against other witches; yet this penalty of perpetual imprisonment must not be announced to her, but only that her life will be spared, and that she will be punished in some other fashion, perhaps by exile.
And doubtless such notorious witches, especially those who prepare witch-potions or who by magical methods cure those bewitched, would be peculiarly suited to be thus preserved, in order to aid the bewitched or to accuse other witches, were it not that their accusations cannot be trusted, since the Devil is a liar, unless confirmed by proof and witnesses.
Others hold, as to this point, that for a time the promise made to the witch sentenced to imprisonment is to be kept, but that after a time she should be burned. A third view is, that the judge may safely promise witches to spare their lives, if only he will later excuse himself from pronouncing the sentence and will let another do this in his place.
But if, neither by threats nor by promises such as these, the witch can be induced to speak the truth, then the jailers must carry out the sentence, and torture the prisoner according to the accepted methods, with more or less of severity as the delinquent’s crime may demand. And, while he is being tortured, he must be questioned on the articles of accusation, and this frequently and persistently, beginning with the lighter charges–for he will more readily confess the lighter than the heavier.
And, while this is being done, the notary must write down everything in his record of the trial–how the prisoner is tortured, on what points he is questioned, and how he answers.
II. THE BEGINNINGS OF THE WITCH-PERSECUTIONS.
And note niider, if he confesses under the torture, he must afterward be conducted to another place, that he may formcarius it and certify that it was not due alone to the force of the torture. But, if the prisoner will not confess the truth satisfactorily, other sorts of tortures must be placed before him, with the statement that, unless he will confess the truth, he must endure these also. The judge must then address to the prisoners the following sentence: We, the judge, etc.