The Devil And The Religious Controversies Of — страница 6

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condemned as sorcerers: then absolved by gentlemen of the Court.”44 Moreover, he continued, “there is an infinity of things that are done by the secret force of nature: because of the fact that they were mysterious, it has been necessary to attribute them to the Devil [as a means of] explaining questions of physics and medecin.”45 Finally, in a derisive taunt which further displays his disgust, Alexis addressed the contention that Marthe had knowledge of the secrets of others. He recounted that, when asked by a monk to tell him what he had done on a particular night, Marthe responded: “You prayed to God.” With undisguised scorn, Alexis remarked, “Now there’s a great secret to tell to a Capucine: You prayed to God. Because of this it is well-known that [the

inhabitants of] la Romorantine mock the simplicity of these monks.”46 Alexis concluded his refutation with an extract from the registers of the Parlement of Paris dated 24 May 1599. Marthe was placed under her father’s supervision and was ordered to remain in Romorantin unless express permission to depart could be obtained from the “Juge chastelain” of the said locale.47 Alexis is representative of a developing tendency, at least after the Italian Renaissance, to question antiquated explanations of mysterious phenomena. Many Europeans, while becoming increasingly skeptical of the traditional propensity to attribute aberrations in nature and human behavior to demonic interference, deplored the apparently frequent practice of condemning innocent victims to be burned for

what they regarded as naturally explicable behavior. Alexis,himself, considered the credulity of those overzealous elites who encouraged the persecutions to be more deleterious than the naive convictions of the masses. He went so far as to question Scripture: “If there are thus no other signs necessary to demon possession, than those which are described by the Evangelists, [then] every epileptic, melancholiac, phrenetic, will have the devil in their and there will be more demoniacs in the world than fools.” Page 43who by this means is establishing the reign of Satan. Even the judges are so blind that they deny that there have ever been warlocks and witches.”49 Henri Boguet, chief justice for the county of Burgundy, conveyed a similar sense of horror and disbelief at the

growing number of skeptics. In a treatise from 1603, he remarked: “I marvel at those who ridicule the exorcisms and conjurations that our priests employ against demoniacs: because what reason do they have to do this? Did Jesus Christ not cure an infinite number [of such persons] while he was in this world.”50 Another author, Pierre Node, exhorted the Judges and Lords of France “to avoid being deceived by idle words, such as [those] used by beguilers, Sorcerers, Magicians, and Nostradamists.”51 Node then warned these magistrates of the impending doom if they failed to carry out their responsibility of eradicating this threat to the kingdom. “If either unadvised pity or negligence and scorn, or excessive disbelief softens the hearts of those who hold authority over any

province of this kingdom in order to spare the life of these wretched creatures who provoke our God to such a great extent, the end of this poor France will not be unlike that of the Israelite kingdom.”52In the writings of Crespet, Boguet and Node, we can see the major elements of a type of propaganda that was not intended to serve as a vehicle of oppression of ‘popular culture. ‘ On the contrary, this literature seems to have been directed at the skepticism of other members of the elite classes. It is in fact evident that one cannot speak of the ‘elite class’ as a single, coherent entity. As one historian has described the situation, “Protestantism aside, there was no monolithic orthodoxy upon which all Catholics agreed in every detail. The church in France lacked

the machinery, even if it had the will, to impose a single set of views on all people.”53Jonathan Pearl has shown that at least some of the French Catholic demonologists were concerned with both the blind credulity of the masses and the skepticism of some of the elites. His views have been particularly influenced by Pierre de Lancre’s L’Incredulite et Mescreance du Sortilege Plainement Convaincue (Paris, 1622), which he cites at some length. He contends that de Lancre represents the middle position between the two extremes of belief, because De Lancre argued thatWe should avoid the extremes. It is not necessary to line up with the Platonists who attribute everything to demons; but one must even less hold the belief of the Pythagoreans who laugh at demons, magicians, and