Secrets merveilleux de la magie naturelle & cabalistique

Lyon, chez les héritiers de Beringos fratres à l’enseigne d’Agrippa, 1743


12 mo. pp. [xii], 252. *⁶, A-K¹², L⁶. 10 full page engraved esoteric plates. Roman letter some Italic. Title page in red and black, small woodcut ornament on title, woodcut headpieces, woodcut tables in text. Light age yellowing, quires I-K browned, the odd spot or mark. A very good copy in contemporary mottled calf, spine with gilt ruled raised bands, double gilt ruled in compartments, large tulip fleurons gilt at centres, edges gilt ruled, marbled endpapers, all edges red

A very good copy of this most popular and successful work on natural magic. The Little Albert is a so-called “magic” book, or Grimoire, perhaps inspired by the writings of St. Albert the Great. It was printed in France for the first time as early as 1668, and then reprinted on a continuous basis. Brought to the smallest villages in the saddlebags of ‘colporteurs’, it was a phenomenal publication success, despite, or perhaps because of, its sulphurous reputation. It is associated with a twin book, the Grand Albert, and often with an almanac which contained a useful calendar. It is a composite work, even heterogeneous, a bric-a-brac gathering of texts of unequal value written by (or attributed to) different authors, most anonymous. The Petit Albert, however, is neither a summary nor an abridged version of the Great Albert; it is a distinct text. It was enormously popular in France throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. A curious mixture of esoteric science and totally impractical superstition, it was for some time tolerated by the Church, with whose teachings it cohabited uneasily, but it was prized by ordinary people. The book is attributed, though probably spuriously, to Albert Le Grand, a 13th century Dominican monk, whose real name was Albrecht De Groot. He was a superb scholar, a philosopher and divine, mentor to Thomas Aquinas, whose apparent interests in the esoteric earned him a reputation as a mighty sorcerer amongst his contemporaries. It was not until the 19th century that the Petit Albert began to be frowned upon by the Catholic Church and had to be kept hidden, sometimes even underneath church altars in an effort to ‘bless’ them. Albert Le Grand is a saint, and it is likely that the association with him was deliberate, as a way of keeping the books tolerated if not approved by the Church. It owes a good deal of its more esoteric nature—discussions of talismans, mandrakes, and ‘elementals’ for instance—to pseudo-Paracelsus. There are recipes taken from the Italian philosopher Girolamo Cardano’s De Subtilitate of 1552, and Giacomo della Porta’s Magia naturalis of 1598, amongst others.

The Petit Albert offers tremendous insight into the minds of rural folk magic practitioners and provides an example of the then popular practice of publishing of books of secrets. It was a book that acted as a medium, in creating an occult atmosphere; the image of the magician or witch is almost always attended by the presence of the book of magic. It lends the practitioner the token of occult knowledge and power. Despite any claims made for the efficacy of such tomes, they nonetheless instilled a sense of wonder and mystery in those who owned them. As such a popular work, copies were read and used to disintegration and it is not common to find then in such good condition as this copy.

Ferguson 1, p. 17, Brunet I 139.


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Epitaphium des Ehrwirdigen Herrn und Vaters Martini Luthers.

Wittenberg, Georg Rhau, 1546.


FIRST EDITION (?). 4o. 8 unnumbered leaves, A-B4. Large Gothic letter, in German. T-p with ¼ page woodcut portrait of Martin Luther in a roundel, ‘2’ in later red ink to top right corner. Fine ½ page woodcuts (after Lucas Cranach the Younger) of Frederick III Duke of Saxony with a sword and coats of arms, and Martin Luther dated 1546. Very good copy, light browning, the occasional marginal stain. Attractive binding from a C15 vellum manuscript on modern boards, probably German. Red and black large Gothic letter in Latin, double column, ruled in red, initials in red and blue, heightened in gold in places.

Crisp copy of a German poem written to commemorate the death of Martin Luther in 1546, when the volume was first printed in five impressions (no priority has been established). Johann Walther (or Walter) (1496–1570), the ‘father of Lutheran church music’, was composer and then director of the chapel choir of Frederick III, Duke of Saxony. In 1524, he published ‘Geistliches Gesangbuechleinin’, a hymnal for Lutheran choirs, with a foreword by Martin Luther himself; the ‘Deutsche Messe’ followed in 1527. For two decades, Walther worked incessantly with Luther to adapt Catholic church music to the needs of Lutheran liturgy, for instance, by introducing hymns into the mass and encouraging people to sing them at home and make them part of their everyday lives. The ‘Epitaphium’ is Walther’s tribute to a religious personality who had also become a close friend. The poem depicts Luther as a heroic figure whom Death cannot overpower and the Devil’s bite cannot hurt, a soul who has escaped from the hellish torments reserved to Papists to revive in the teachings of God’s word and the light of Christ. The fine woodcuts after Lucas Cranach the Younger immortalise Luther and Frederick III, one of the earliest defenders of Lutheranism and founder of the University of Wittenberg, where Luther taught.

The striking binding is made of two non-sequential leaves from the same manuscript in superb condition. It is probably a C15 German lectionary, with excerpts from the Acts of the Saints and Martyrs, associated with their calendar dates of worship. The front cover features passages from the acts of St Mathias (February 24) and the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste (March 10), while on the back are extracts from the lives of St Peter and Paul (including Acts 1:21-26 and 12:2-8), interspersed with orations.

USTC 651896; BM STC Ger. p. 581; VD 16; W 994. Not in Brunet or Graesse. See Strauss, The German Single-Leaf Woodcut, 1500-1550 II, 633, 635.


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Devx livres de la hayne de Sathan et malins esprits contre l’homme… pour nuyre à l’homme par charmes, obsessions, magie, sorcellerie, illusions, phantosmes… en l’Eglise…

Paris, Chez Guillaume de La Nouë , 1590.


FIRST EDITION. 8vo. ff. [xxvi], 428, [xxii]. ã⁸, ẽ⁸, ĩ⁸, õ², a-z⁸, 2A-3K⁸, 3L². Roman letter, some Italic. Grotesque and floriated woodcut initials and headpieces, full page woodcut arabesque after prefaces, ms. ‘ex-libris G. Romegoux albensy Ao.32” with shelf mark on title in slightly later hand. Title page dusty with light waterstain, small tear to inner blank margin, general age yellowing, a little browning, minor spotting in places, occasional thumb mark spot or stain, last leaf dusty with pale waterstain, occasional mostly marginal waterstain. A good, unsophisticated copy, in contemporary limp vellum, yapp edges, remains of ties, vellum a little darkened and soiled, block starting in places but solid, title manuscript on spine in contemporary hand.

Exceptionally rare first edition of one of the most important and influential treatises on the devil, demons, witchcraft, spells and counter spells of the sixteenth century. The first book is composed of twenty discourses in which the author denounces with great precision (and not without a certain glee) the malefic spells of the devil, various copulations in the form of incubus and succubus, transformations, frightful prodigies, and false miracles – all the misfortunes of this world due to Satan. The second book, composed of six discourses, describes remedies for the devils malefic powers with the help of God and finally the victory of man. Other contemporary authors, like Jean Bodin, insisted on demonstrating the existence of the devil and witches while legitimising the hunting of the latter; others, like John Wier, seemingly more enlightened, tried to fight against this type of superstition. In this context, the work of Pierre Crespet, a Celestin monk, demonstrates a certain originality. His treatise “Two Books of the Hatred of Satan” remains orthodox in the way he perceives witches – his vision is close to that of Jean Bodin – but it is distinguished by the way in which he explains the causes of their appearance, and how their activities are determined on earth. In order to explain how witches have the power they have, such as the ability to cause hailstones and storms, the healing of sick men, to “prophetizer et predire choses à venir” he puts forward the argument that the weakness of man, inherent in his nature, is “une chose toute certaine, que les hommes n’ont pas moyen de leur propre vertu de faire telles choses, mais ils sont aydez par l’art et finesse des demons, qui entretiennent cette vertu de race en race”. He goes further and states that, in these terrestrial acts, the devil is not moved by the ambition of power, but by hatred that he transmits to witches which becomes the the driving force behind all their injurious acts.

Crespet was undoubted heavily influenced by the bitter civil and religious wars that had been raging in France, and was an ardent supporter of the Catholic League. “Crespet was well known in his day as a league writer and Preacher in Paris. He was a fervent advocate of the league, from its first formation in 1576, and was prior of the Celestine abbey in Paris when he published his “Deux livres de la Hayne de Sathan.” For Crespet, all the troubles of his time were to be attributed to the Devil and his supporters, the Protestant heretics” Jonathan L. Pearl. “The Crime of Crimes: Demonology and Politics in France, 1560-1620.” “Also influential beyond the borders of France was .. Pierre Crespet’s tract (two books on the Hatred of Satan and Evil Spirits Against Mankind 1590). Crespet vigorously inveighed against Protestantism – which he considered a satanic heresy – much as Pierre de Lancre would do a few years later.” P. Levack. “The Oxford Handbook of Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe and Colonial America.”

Another aspect of particular interest to Crespet’s work was his detailed discussion of the witches sabbath and its origins. “the demonologist Pierre Crespet located the witches’ dance in a tradition including the bacchanalian revel, early Christian transvestism and the masquerades of the Maschecroutte of contemporary Lyon. The inferior clergy of late medieval France celebrated Christmas and the New Year with burlesques which were readily attributable to God’s ape – singing in dissonances, braying like asses, making indecent grimaces and contortions, repeating prayers in gibberish, censing with puddings or smelly shoes and, above all, mocking the sermon and the mass with fatuous imitations.” Stuart Clark ‘Inversion, Misrule and the Meaning of Witchcraft.”

An exceptionally rare and most interesting work on Witchcraft and demonology.

Caillet, 2689. “Le livre du P. Crespet se rencontre très difficilement ; c’est un des traités de sorcellerie les plus rares qu’on ait publiés au xvi e siècle.” Guaita197. Not in BM STC Fr. C16th or Brunet.


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VAIRO, Leonardo

Trois livres des charmes, sorcelages ou enchantemens..auec les vrais contrepoisons pour rabattre les impostures & illusions des Daemons..

Paris, chez Nicolas Chesneau, 1583


FIRST EDITION thus. 8vo. pp. [xvi] 553 [lxxi ]. ã8, A-Z8, Aa-Qq8. Roman letter, some Italic. Small woodcut printer’s device on title, floriated woodcut initials, grotesque headpieces, verses in a seventeenth century hand on rear fly in French, addressed to Doctors and surgeons, bookplate of Eric Gruaz on pastedown. Light age yellowing, the odd marginal spot or very pale stain, small ink splash on title, pale waterstain in upper blank margin in places. A good copy, crisp and clean, with good margins, in handsome C18th speckled French polished calf, covers bordered with a triple gilt rule, spine with gilt ruled raised bands, double gilt ruled in compartments, richly gilt with central fleurons and pointillée tools, gilt ruled edges, red morocco label gilt, marbled endpapers .a.e.r.

First edition in French translation of this important work on diabolic possession, one of the major works on the subject of the the sixteenth century; it was published simultaneously by Chesneau in 1583 in Latin as ‘De fascino libri tres’ and again in 1589 in Latin by the Aldine press. Vairo, born in Spain, became a Benedictine, and later Bishop of Pozzuoli near Naples. The work deals with the question of diabolic possession and fascination by witches, which the author attributes to the influence of devils. Vairo defines “fascinum” as “a pernicious quality induced by art of demons because of tacit or express pact of men with the same demons”. He denies fascination by power of imagination, by strength or morbidity of vision, by touch and contact, and observation of stars. In his last chapter Vairo treats of safeguards and amulets against the impostures and illusions of demons.

“Further early studies that associate fascination with witchcraft include … Leonardo Vairo’s De fascino libris tres. In these accounts, fascination is used almost as a synonym fro malignant influences brought about by a silent pact with the devil and black magic and is closely connected to visual enchantment. The belief in the evil or bewitching eye (the oculus fascinus), which could enthral, immobilise and even kill simply by a glance.” Sibylle Baumbach ‘Literature and Fascination’.The work is also of particular interest for its focus on the link between demonic corruption and ‘melancholy’. “The delusory powers of melancholy so useful to demons, the demonologists were also often wont to point out, could also be extended to the deceptive demonic practise of aping divine miracles. Among the miracles especially notable for being aped by demons, as illustrated by the Neopolitan Benedictine Leonardo Vairo is the miraculous power to prophesy the future. For it was Vairo’s aim, under the heading De Fascino, to reconcile extraordinary powers of prophetic insight in melancholics with their corresponding vulnerability to demonic corruption.” This attribution of demonic power extended for Vairo to such things as Poisons. “Poison was one of the great fears of the age. Its threat lay in the fact that its mode of operation was considered similar to that of magical spells and sorcery. For Leonardo Vairo.. veneficia were the same as Maleficia: not poisons so much as bewitchments, the horrible effects of which could be ascribed to demons.” David Gentilcore. ‘Healers and Healing in Early Modern Italy’.

A very good copy of this important demonological wrk.

USTC 1728. Caillet III 10963 “Ouvrage bien traité et d’une remarquable érudition.” BM STC Fr. C16th p. 432. Guaita 1036. Girard 2 P3427. Adams V 17. Ghent no. V 12.


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Opera. n. pr. n.d. [Lyon, Balthasar de Gabiano, 1502-03]


8vo, ff. 266. Italic letter, a little Roman, blank spaces with guide letters for initials. Light age yellowing, the odd spot or mark, title page a little dusty, with old repair at foot. A very clean, crisp, fine copy in elaborately gilt tooled light brown speckled calf C1800, gilt title to spine, all edges sprinkled red and green, slightly rubbed; La Motte-Belair armorial bookplate C1800, and another modern on front pastedown, partly faded early inscription – “De sancto Sulpicio” – on title page.

A rare counterfeit of the first volume of the collection “Poetae christiani veteres”, published by Aldo between 1501 and 1504. It demonstrated Aldo’s interest in explaining different Latin and Greek texts, many of which were neglected and inaccessible. This Lyonese edition was listed in the “Monitum in Lugdunenses” (March 1503), where Aldo denounced the counterfeits as incorrect for the sake of buyers and to defend himself. This counterfeit differs textually from the real in the abbreviated title, the absence of Aldo’s address to the reader, errata, register and colophon. The counterfeit opens with a prefatory letter to the scholar Daniele Clario, where Aldo explains that he had to use a manuscript of British provenance (“ab usque Britannis accitus”). It comprises works by the Latin poet Prudentius, Prosper of Aquitaine (Epigrammata) and the Greeks John Damascus, Cosmas of Jerusalem and Theophanes (hymns). 

Aurelius Prudentius Clemens (c348 – 405AD) was born in the Roman Province of Terraconensis (Northern Spain) of a distinguished Christian family. He studied law and was twice provincial governor. Around 392 he retired from public life to became an ascetic. Prudentius was one of the best known representatives of the Christian humanism and an apologist of Christianity. His works, which he collected in 405 with a brief preface, were inspired by Tertullian and St. Ambrose, by the Bible and the Acts of the Martyrs. His earliest poems are the 12 hymns of the Cathemerinon, devoted to the sanctification of the hours of the day or important occasions (Christmas, the Epiphany, etc.). The Peristephanon celebrates Spanish and Roman martyrs (Lawrence the Deacon, the 18 martyrs of Saragossa, Cassianus of the Forum Cornelium, Peter and Paul, Cyprian, Agnes and many others) and may have been influenced by Pope Damasus’ inscriptions. Apotheosis in 1408 hexameters, is a theological exposition on the dogma of Trinity and the deity of Christ, directed against its opponents. Hamartigenia in 966 hexameters, deals with the origin of the sin and the punishments of heresy, in a polemic against gnostic dualism. Contra Symmachum in 2 books, is a invective against pagan state religion and contains a refutation of the senator Symmachus’ plea for reinstating of the altar of Victory in the Senate house at Rome, which had been removed in 357. The Psychomachia (915 hexameters) and the Dittochæon are two works of aesthetic and historical interest. Psychomachia is the first completely allegorical poem in European literature and describes the conflict between Christian virtues and heathen vices. The second is composed of 49 quatrains, intended as captions for the decoration of a basilica in Rome: 24 Old Testament pictures on one side and as many from the New Testament on the other, plus one in the apse. Prosper of Aquitaine (c390 – 455 AD) was a dedicated disciple of Saint Augustine of Hippo. Born in Aquitaine, he moved to Marseilles, where he became involved in the semi-Pelagian controversy. He spent his last years in Rome working for Pope Leo the Great. His Epigrammata are a collection of 106 poems on sayings taken from Augustine’s works, mainly concerning the doctrines of grace and incarnation, and probably written after the Council of Chalcedon. Revealing a familiarity with Virgil, Ovid and Lucretius, they provided a convenient means for students of learning moral lessons and elements of Augustinian doctrine. John of Damascus was one of the Fathers of the Greek Church. He was of a good family and educated by the elder Cosmas with his foster-brother Cosmas the Melodist. He held e offices under the Caliph and afterwards retired to Mar Sabas monastery, near Jerusalem, along with his foster-brother. There he composed his theological works and hymns and lived to extreme old age. The most common source of information for the life of John of Damascus is a work attributed to one John of Jerusalem, identified as the Patriarch of Jerusalem. It was during John Damascus’s office that the Eastern Orthodox church began to be agitated by the Iconoclast heresy. John of Damascus, Cosmas of Jerusalem and Theophanes (c759-818 AD) were the most prolific later Greek classical hymnographers, and wrote hymns in iambic trimeters on the Nativity, Epiphany, on the Palm Sunday, on Easter and Pentecost, etc. They were originally composed for the Office of the Church of Jerusalem and are still used in Eastern Christian practice. 

A very appropriate provenance, Saint Sulpice (founded 1641), during the Directoire was renamed and used as the Temple of Victory and later taken over as the headquarters of the “Club de la Victoire” during the Commune. It is also one of the grand historic churches of Paris, Victor Hugo married there, Madame de Montespan was buried there and the Marquis de Sade baptised there. It was sacked during the Revolution, doubtless when this copy was lost. 

Only 5 copies recorded in the US (Dartmouth College; Boston College; Catholic University of America, Washington; Stanford University and Columbia). Adams, P 1686; Baudrier, VII, 8-9; BM STC Fr., 367; Brunet, IV, 915; Renouard 306:5; Shaw, The Lyons Counterfeit of Aldus’ Italic type, 124:10. Not in Ahmanson-Murphy.


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LE NORMANT, Jean Sieur de Chiremont

Histoire Veritable et Memorable de ce qui c’est passé sous l’exorcisme de trois filles possedées es païs de Flandre,.


Paris, O. de Varennes, 1623.

FIRST EDITION. 8vo. Two parts in one volume pp. [xxviii], 386 [i.e. 398], [ii]: 346 [ii] . â8, b4, A-Bb8 ; a-y8, Z4. Roman letter, some Italic. Woodcut floriated initials, woodcut headpieces with double H’s, typographical ornaments, purchase note on fly “2 Juin 1835 Mourtini.; 4 tributini – Marqué tres rare”, C18th engraved armorial bookplate of  ‘De Laménar’ on pastedown, modern bookplate of Eric Gruaz below. Light age yellowing, with some minor mostly marginal spotting, very pale waterstains in places, a little heavier in second work, mostly marginal single worm holes in second work, some marginal trails, one at gutter just touching a few letters on quires l-n.  A good copy in contemporary vellum over thin boards, remains of ties.

Extremely rare accounts of the diabolic possession and the exorcisms of the Nuns of the Monastery of St. Brigitte in Lille in 1613, conducted by the Dominican inquisitor Sebatien Michaëlis and recounted by his disciple Le Normant. Michaelis was vice-inquisitor in Avignon during the 1580s and was involved in a number of witch trials: a series of cases in 1581 and 1582 led to eighteen women being convicted and burnt. In 1587 he published a work on demons, the ‘Pneumalogie ou discours des esprits’. By 1610 he was prior of the Dominican community at Saint-Maxim near Aix-en-Provence where he was later involved in one of the most notorious witch trials, and case of demonic possession, in the history of France, that of the priest Louis Gaufridi, who was convicted of sorcery, tortured and burnt, on the evidence of a nun ‘possessed by the devil.’ This work is even more extravagant in the details it gives than Michaelis’ account of the Louis Gaufridi possession of nuns in Aix. It bears extraordinary and most detailed witness to the immense pressure, both moral and physical, the nuns were subjected to when they were pressed to confess that they were in fact witches. Le Normant finds it ‘admirable’ when the nun , Marie de Sains, having been denounced by three other nuns possessed by demons, ends up confessing to being a magician and witch herself, after months of imprisonment and ‘mortifications’. Le Normant gives, naively, tremendous insight into the process of blackmail and pressure involved in extracting these confessions, and in the ‘demonic’ possessions that occurred. The questioning by the inquisitors reveals extraordinary accounts of sexual transactions with the devil which are all carefully recorded and categorised. These orgiastic rituals or sabbaths, follow a strict timetable. Thus on Sundays the devil takes his traditional form, with serpent feet, red tails claws and horns. Marie de Sains states in her confession that “quelle prenoit plus de plaisir lors qu’elle avoit cohibitation avec le diable en forme de diable, que quand il abusoit d’elle en forme humaine, ou d’autre creature”. On Mondays and Tuesdays these sabbaths were ‘ordinary’, though the Thursday was consecrated to sodomy. “soit hommes, soit femmes commettent le péché de la chair, hors du vaisseau naturel: et que l’on se polluait pours lors en plusieurs sortes et manieres de tout estranges et abominables, la femme avec la femme, l’homme avec l’homme.” Saturdays were reserved for bestiality where the devils took the form of many animals. When the nun Didyme, who had confessed to extraordinary horrors, retracts her confession at the end of the second work she states “Et je m’esbahis ou j’ay peu prendre de telles inventions: ce qui me donne a croire que c’est le diable qui me les a soufflées en l’aureille.”  One has to wonder if the devil she was referring to was not, explicitly, the inquisitors themselves. Cf. Marianne Closson ‘L’imaginaire démoniaque en France (1550-1650): genèse de la littérature .’

“When Le Normant came to defend his ‘Histoire Veritable’ against criticism from the academics of the Sorbonne, he too had to satisfy doubts about the propriety of listening to Demons. And, like Michaelis, he replied by stressing the overwhelming authority of properly conducted exorcisms and by examining what was revealed both for its intrinsic plausibility and for the way that might (in these two episodes at least) be externally corroborated by reference to the eschatological truths. Contemporaries did, therefore, express scepticism on this point (and increasingly came to do so) but these two Catholic authors cannot be said to have been unduly discomfited by there arguments” Stuart Clark. ‘Thinking with Demons: The Idea of Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe.’

An extremely rare and extraordinarily meticulous account of demonic possession, witchcraft, and exorcism.

BM STCFr. C17th. p309, L915. Caillet, 6530. Guaita 487. “Ouvrage de démonologie des plus curieux et de la plus insigne rareté.”.


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DANEAU, Lambert

Deux traitez nouveaux. Le premier touchant les sorciers, Le second contient une breve Remonstrance sur les jeux de cartes et de dez.

[Geneva], Par Jaques Baumet, 1579


8vo. Two works in one vol. pp. 160 : ¶8, A-I8. Roman letter, some Italic. Woodcut printer’s device on title, type initials within charming grotesque woodcut borders, woodcut headpieces, “Bibliotheque de Leon de Riedmatten” in a C19th hand at foot of t-p, extensive notes in an early hand on rear fly and pastedown, possibly recipes, occasional marginal notes in the same hand. Minor, mostly marginal, light waterstain, to first and last few leaves, light age yellowing, minor marginal spotting, t-p fractionally dusty, small worm hole in very outer upper blank margin of last few quires. A very good, entirely unsophisticated copy in contemporary limp vellum with ties, vellum a little crinkled and soiled.

First collective edition of these works together in their first French translation; seperately published by Jacques Bourgeois in 1574 and 1575. Daneau’s major work on witchcraft, Dialogus de veneficiis. was translated, first into French and then, in 1575, into English by Thomas Twyne as ‘A Dialogue of  Witches.’ “Lambert Daneau, a French Calvanist theologian and Minister, published a treatise on witches in 1574. The book took the form of a dialogue in which one speaker, Theophilus, responded to the occasionally skeptical questions presented to the other speaker, Anthony. The treatise establishes some of the main themes of the late sixteenth and seventeenth-century Protestant demonology. One of the most salient of those features was a heavy reliance on scripture. This biblicism is evident in Daneau’s argument .. that to claim that witches were victims of melancholy was tantamount to the blasphemous denial of the biblical statement that the demoniacs whom Christ cured were also only melancholics and not possessed by demons. A second Protestant theme ..was that the increase in the number of witches was related to the prevalence of superstition and false religion that the Reformation was endeavouring to dispel. ..Calvinists claimed that the age of miracles had ended in biblical times and that magic performed by witches through the power of the devil consisted of nothing more than wonders. Daneau makes this point in his treatise and he also presents the argument  .. that the Devil, despite his great power, could only work within the laws of nature. One of the effects of this line of thought was to make the crime of witchcraft primarily a spiritual offence, consisting in the pact wth the Devil. This emphasis is clear in Daneau’s treatise, and it was followed by most of the English demonologists of the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.”  Brian P. Levack . ‘The Witchcraft Sourcebook.’

Daneau states “The rise of witchcraft was due to the ‘terrible judgement of God against us’ for ‘shamefully and obstinately’ rejecting the true faith. There are four main reason why people choose to become ‘slaves to Satan’: distrust in God, vanity, poverty and power. The most likely sort to fall under his sway are the ‘country men, ignorant and poor people,’ as well as those who are proud of mind, or those in search of knowledge, ‘being desirous to know things to come and fortell them to others .. by which means many of the honourable and learned sort are seduced by Satan.’” Lizanne Henderson. ‘Witchcraft and Folk Belief in the Age of Enlightenment’

The second work is a most interesting treatise on games; specifically of cards and dice. “One of the first Protestants to write on ethical behaviour was a French Calvinist, Lambert Daneau. His books, many of which are translated into English, influenced many English Puritan writers. .. In Chapter 6 of the 1586 translation, Daneau specifies which types of games should be permitted for play among Christians. Games of pure chance, he says, should be forbidden while games of mixed chance and skill are allowable. In the latter situation his reasoning for allowance is that undesirable outcomes obtained through a chance event could be overcome by the industry or skill of the player. Games of pure chance are referred to as ‘alea’ and are defined as those games that hang and depend (as it were) upon mere ‘chaunce of casting’ … Later in the text Daneau says that these practices ‘help the chaunce’. These methods of cheating are obviously ‘skills’ which can overcome undesirable outcomes; however Daneau excludes them from the allowable games of mixed chance and skill, referring to anyone who engages in such practices as ‘a leud fellowe and a cogging Verlot’. Further on in his treatise (Ch. 9) Daneau provides some explicit reasons why he considered games of chance to be inappropriate for Christians. His first argument is that engaging in games of chance violates the third commandment not to take the name of God in vain. Daneau bases this conclusion on the assumption that God determines the outcome of a randomized event; to use randomizers for trifling matters such as gaming is to profane the majesty and power of God..” D. R. Bellhouse. ‘Probability in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries: An Analysis of Puritan Casuistry Author.’.

USTC 8186. Caillet, 2778. “Ouvrage rarissime d’un des plus savants théologiens du XVIe siècle”. La Croix du Maine p. 282.  Chaix no. 1579. Not in BM STC fr. C16th.


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Refutation de l’erreur du vulgaire touchant les reponses des diables exorcises.

Constances, Par Jean le Carrel, 1618.


FIRST EDITION. 8vo. ff. [14]-143. Roman letter, some Italic. Title within charming, four part, grotesque woodcut border, floriated woodcut initials, grotesque headpieces, typographical ornaments, autograph ‘Campaigne 1621” on recto of front fly, “Coti Andrea in memore 1668” below and “J. André aux hor’ (d’Amiens)” in C19th century hand below that, “Com Coti Andreii memore ord. D 1669” on title, C19th armorial library stamp of ‘Charles Henneguier’ on verso of fly, modern bookplate of Eric Gruaz on pastedown. A very good copy, crisp and clean, in contemporary vellum, yapp edges, remains of ties, title ms on spine. 

Exceptionally rare edition of this most interesting work on exorcism and diabolic possession by the Augustinian, Brother Sanson Birette, entitled the ‘Refutation of the Error of the Vulgar, Regarding the Responses of Exorcised Devils’, relating accounts of demonic possession in Normandy in the towns of ‘Coutances, Valognes, Barfleur, etc’, including a lengthy section explaining how to best use God’s power to harm or injure devils. “It is easy to see that the large-scale exorcisms this period, described copiously in print, would raise anxieties about the question of audience. Priests making the devil talk made other priests nervous, both about the public profile of the church and the potential fate of souls deluded by charlatans and devils. In 1618 the Augustinian Sanson Birette wrote deploring public exorcisms as no better than the kind of divination traditionally associated with witchcraft. He describes as an intolerable abuse the interrogation of possessing devils ‘on the misfortunes of illness, of death, of accidents, of losses, of animals and of occult crimes, in order to have revelation about them’. Birette’s argument was founded on the paternalistic concern for all those unable to tell the difference when a devil speaks ‘under the honey of truth [in order to] transmit the infection of lies’. He cited a papal bull of Sixtus V, which stipulated that the devil may only be asked how many spirits are present in the possessed, the cause and subject of the possession, and the time when they entered the possessed; and he found endorsement for this in the Norman ritual of Coustances, which he said limited the interrogation of demons to questions regarding the number of demons in the possessed, why the person was possessed, and when the possession began. Yet even these strictures, which Birette implied would prevent excessive exorcist interrogations, clearly left room for eliciting information about those ‘occult crimes’, such as witchcraft, whose exposure he feared would lead to belief in diabolical lies. … Birette’s piece, which might seem to be a precursor of modern humane sentiments about which hunting, can therefore be seen as very much a creature of its time; a document designed to reject witchcraft accusations, certainly, but because these were signs of excessive use of the sacramental of exorcism on the part of the ‘vulgar’, the uneducated clergy and the gullible laity.” Sarah Ferber. ‘Demonic Possession and Exorcism: In Early Modern France.’

The work was published in two editions of the same year, one at Rouen and the present. This edition is particularly rare; we have only located two copies in libraries at Cornell University and in Paris at the Bibliothèque interuniversitaire Sainte-Geneviève.

Guaita, 953 ‘Ouvrage de demonology fort rare’ [Rouen edition only]. Not in BM STC [Rouen ed. only] USTC or Caillet.


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Histoire véritable arrivée de nostre temps en la ville de Beauvais touchant les conjurations et exorcismes faits à Denise de la Caille, possédée du diable….

Paris, P. Billaine, 1623.


FIRST EDITION. 8vo. pp. [viii]252. Roman letter, some Italic. Small typographical ornament on title, later autograph ‘Tiersonnier’ at head of front pastedown, book-label of Pierre M Lambert below, note in early C19th hand “conservation Bucquet” on fly. Light age yellowing, occasional marginal mark or spot, hole in blank portion of t-p due to waterstain, repaired on verso, stain running onto next four leaves with a bit of paper softening. A good copy in C17th French speckled calf, spine with raised bands, double gilt ruled in compartments, fleurons gilt at centres, head and tail of spine a little worn, small splits to joints, a.e.r.

Very rare and most interesting account of the demonic possession of Denise de la Caille from the town of Beauvais, of particular interest for the forensic description of the events, and day by day account of the proceedings. It comprises the direct observations taken by a clerk, who noted the various events, as they presented themselves to the witnesses,, without comment. These minutes are documents of inestimable value as they give us an entirely unvarnished account of proceedings. They are signed ‘Vaillant’, apostolic clerk. It recounts how Denise de la Caille, born in Landelle, widow of Jean Barbier, laborer, of the parish of Saint-Gilles, became agitated and tormented, especially when she went to the Church for prayers. She had been tormented for over nine years, and was mostly forced to stay in bed without being able to walk and sometimes without vision, sometimes shouting and bellowing. Eventually the parish priest lead her to his bishop, René Potier, and after a visit by doctors, and the theologian Jean Chéron, it was acknowledged that the problem was not corporeal. (The doctor was particularly concerned that there was an inordinate quantity of lice on her). They decided that exorcism was the way forward and called in a monk of the order of St. Dominic, Laurent le Pot, a native of Beauvais, to undertake a public exorcism. Father Le Pot began the series of exorcisms in the church of Saint-Gilles on August 1, in public, which were to go on, twice a day, for nine days. When the demon was asked him his name, or if he has companions he sometimes responded “Belzébut” or replied with grimaces or unintelligible words. “The devils of Denise de la Caille in Beauvais in 1623 declared their names to include Brissilolo, Milola, Sililolo, Cyria, Silala, Brisola and ‘eighteen other less singular names, leading the notary who took them down to want to tear his papers with his teeth.” Sarah Ferber. ‘Demonic Possession and Exorcism in Early Modern France.’ Extraordinarily on the ninth day, when Denise was presumed dead, the Demon presented itself to the exorcist and was forced to leave the patients body. The final pages of the work gives the ‘sentence donée contre les demons qui sont sortis du corps de Denise’ and includes the signatures of the demons Lissi, Beelzebut, Satan, and Briffault.

A very rare and most interesting account of an exorcism from the early seventeenth century in France.

Caillet, 6559. Yves-Plessis 649. Not in BM STC FR. C17th. or Guaita.


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De Coniuratione Catilinae (The Catiline Conspiracy) [and] De Amicitia and De Senectute, in Latin, illuminated manuscript on vellum.

[Italy, (perhaps Florence), second half of 15th century].


213 by 144 mm, 58 leaves, the Sallust text complete, but a single gathering wanting from the end of the last of the last and supplementary Cicero texts, once containing the last chapters of De Senectute (the present witness ending with “sic illum quasi desipientem a re familiarie …” in ch. 22), collation: i10, ii8, iii-vi10, single column, 25 lines in brown ink in a professional humanist hand with traces of secretarial influence, a few contemporary or near-contemporary interlinear corrections and markers for parts of text in margin, three illuminated initials with white vine decoration, frontispiece with full border of white vine decoration entwined around an ornate gold frame, the foliage on blue, green and pink grounds and enclosed within a blue border flecked with sets of three white dots and enclosed with bezants, enclosing realistic birds, roundels and quadrilobed shapes enclosing other birds and a reclining deer, and two naked putti holding a coat of arms in the bas-de-page (see below), some small stains and slight cockling in places, but overall a fine and clean copy, solid in early nineteenth-century binding of marbled pasteboards with red morocco spine with paper collection labels (“144”), probably that of Boutourlin (see below).

Sallust (86-c. 35 BC; and more correctly Gaius Sallustius Crispus), was a Roman politician and celebrated historian, with this text being the oldest surviving Roman history which we can attach to a known author, and certainly the first to introduce explanation and the influence of character into historical reporting. It was written between 44 and 40 BC., and contains the history of the crucial year 63 BC, in which Catiline as a follower of Sulla (and thus at political odds with Sallust and his patron Julius Caesar) attempted to lead a party of Roman nobles and disaffected veterans in an attempt to overthrow the Republic.

The work was popular among contemporaries, with Martial declaring that “Sallust, according to the judgment of the learned, will rank as the prince of Roman historiographers”, but survived Antiquity in perhaps as few as one or two witnesses, which were rediscovered and copied during the Carolingian Renaissance. The text may have been championed by the grand Carolingian humanist Lupus of Ferrières, who records in his letters a search for a copy (perhaps more complete copy) of the text. Accordingly, the five earliest surviving manuscripts are all from France and Germany (BnF. lat. 16024, second half of ninth century, Soissons; BnF. lat. 16025, mid-ninth century, Auxerre; BnF. lat. 6085, first half ninth century, France; BnF. lat. 5748, ninth century, France; and Basle AN. IV 11, first half of ninth century, southern Germany). However, unlike many other Classical authors interest in Sallust was slow in the centuries a er this initial wave of interest, but exploded with the Italian Renaissance producing over 500 known manuscripts (see L.D. Reynolds, Texts and Transmissions, 1983, p. 345, n. 24).

That said, the text is far from common in manuscript on the market, with almost all available copies being energetically pursued by institutions for several centuries. The last copies to come to the market are that once owned by the duc de La Vallière, offered for sale by Christie’s New York, 24 November 1993, lot 24; another sold by Sotheby’s, 18 June 1991; and that, once Phillipps MS. 2945, sold by Bloomsbury, 9 April 1987, lot 269. All of these were contemporary with the present copy and no earlier witness has been available at auction since the 1920s or 1930s. The single recorded copy offered by a dealer in the same period is the fi eenth-century manuscript offered in Bernard Rosenthal’s, List 13, 1955, no. 4, and now at Columbia University.

The presence of the small green parrot in the border of the frontispiece does point towards the humanist illuminator Giacchino de Gigantibus, named “librarius et miniator” to King Ferdinand I of Naples, active in 1472, at the papal court by 1480, and who died in 1485 (compare for example the manuscript of Seneca, now BnF. ms. Lat. 17842). However, his style was popular and widespread, and the identification of the arms here as Florentine suggests that this was the work of a skilled illuminator from that city who was influenced by Giacchino’s work.


1. The arms in the bas-de-page of the frontispiece appear to have been painted with the rest of the decoration. The silver-gilt escutcheon with red chevron and gilt mountain formed by six hills corresponds to the coat of arms of a wealthy Florentine family, the Ciacchi, specifically the branch of the quarter of Santa Croce. From mid-fourteenth century, they were at the head of local administration as gonfalonieri, reaching the peak of their power in the late Quattrocento under Lorenzo the Magnificent, around the time when this manuscript was commissioned.

2. D. Bourtourlin, (more properly Graf Dimitri Petrovic Burtulin, 1763-1849, and o en confused with a Russian military general of the same name who lived a generation later): his printed armorial bookplate. He was the son of a prominent Russian senator and godson of Catherine the Great, who served as first adjutant of one of her favourites: Prince Grigory Aleksandrovitch Potemkin, before entering the foreign service. In 1793 he resigned his position and devoted himself entirely to the building of his private library. The library was notably strong in Classical texts and a er five years collecting was reported to contain 14,000-15,000 volumes (A.F. de Piles, Voyage de deux Français en Allemagne, Danemarck, Suède, Russie et Pologne fait en 1790-1792, Paris, 1796, III, pp. 342-343). By 1812 it contained some 40,000 books, and was valued at 1 million rubles. It was totally destroyed in the fire which overtook Moscow when the city was breached by Napoleonic troops in September 1812 (see Comte Rostopchine, La Vérité sur l’incendie de Moscou, Paris, 1823, pp. 46-47). Following this loss, Bourtoulin abandoned Russia for Florence where he began to construct a second library as a distraction from his turbulent contemporary times, declaring in 1819 that “Cicero, Dante, Pascal, etc. are my best friends, and much better company than most illustrious people today”. By his death it numbered some 25,000 books, including 244 manuscripts and 964 printed editions of the fi eenth century. It was dispersed post-mortem in a series of French sales, in which this volume was Paris, 25 November 1839, lot 2169, sold for Fr 59.

3. Most of the manuscripts in that sale were acquired by the celebrated polymath, bibliographer and notorious book- thief, Guglielmo Libri (1803-1869), but the present volume appears to have passed directly to the ducs de Luynes, and their ancestral library in the Château de Dampierre; that dispersed 2013.


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