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.

£1,750

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.

L2666

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