COMPENDIUM OF DEMONOLOGICAL LITERATURE IN THE MIDDLE AGES


Theatrum Diabolorum.

Frankfurt, Peter Schmidt, 1575.

£7,350

Large folio, ff. (6), 568, (12). Black and Roman letter; black-and-red title, some decorated initials; large printer devices on title and colophon (oval border and personification of respectively demoniac Vices and Fame); few light browned pages, margins occasionally foxed. A very good copy in elegant contemporary German brown calf over thick-wooden bevelled boards; blind-stamped in black, double fillet, with four rolls of portrait medallions, interlacing flowers and glyphs and floral central panel; remains of clasps; a bit rubbed, some leather lost on front lower board, chipped corners and spine; red edges with early title inscription, early shelf mark gilt on spine; on title, contemporary ex libris of Arnold III, Count of Bentheim-Tecklenburg-Steinfurt-Limburg; on front pastedown, early eighteenth-century engraved bookplate of Ambrosius Franz of Virmont-Bretzenheim.

Second expanded edition of this very influential encyclopaedia of diabolical literature in the Protestant world, first published in 1569. It is a curious assemblage of Lutheran demonological essays, gathered by Sigmund Feyerabend (1528-1590), the renowned publisher and bookseller of Frankfurt. Each of the essays deals with a particular form assumed by the Devil, whose number is calculated as no less than 2,665,866,746,664 by one of the authors. Some of the most peculiar demons are: the dance-devil (book VII); the devils of hunting, drinking and wedlock (books IX-XI); the pantaloons devil (book XVII); the gambling and the courtiers’ devil (books XVIII-XIX). This second edition comprises four additional treatises, focusing on the devils of the Sabbath, oath, concerns and melancholy.

This volume was first owned by Arnold III of Bentheim-Tecklenburg-Steinfurt-Limburg (1554-1606). A powerful German nobleman, he was the son of Countess Anna of Tecklenburg-Schwerin, the first evangelical ruler in Westphalia. Following the religious education provided by his mother, he studied Protestant theology, law and politics in Strasbourg in the early 1570s. Arnold ruled peacefully over a vast number of territories, acquired through inheritance and marriage. Between 1588 and 1593, he introduced Calvin and Zwingli’s doctrines in his territories. Some decades later, the book entered the library of Ambrosius Franz (1682/1684-1744), Count of Virmont and president of the Imperial Chamber Court. It is very likely that he acquired this copy when the Bentheim-Tecklenburg-Steinfurt duchy was given to him by his wife. The bookplate was attached certainly after 1734, the year in which Bretzenheim fell under Franz’s control. The distinctive symbol of the city (a pretzel) appears in the central shield.

Not in BM STC Ger., Adams, Brunet, or Graesse. VD 16, F 905; Grimm, Teufelbücher, B 2; Hayn, VII, 617.

L1921

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