Tribunal de Supersticion Ladina.

Huesca, Pedro Bluson, 1631.


FIRST EDITION. 4to, (viii), 122, ii). Roman and Italic letter, printed side notes, small illustration on title page, decorative initials and typographical ornaments. First and last leaves a little dusty,  marginal restoration to a few leaves, the odd spot or mark. A very good, clean copy in modern vellum over boards.

Scarce first and only early edition of this curious work on witchcraft and demonology. Little is known about the Augustinian Gaspar Navarro, from Aranda de Moncayo, in Zaragoza (1572-1631). He served as a parish priest for eighteen years and was Doctor in Theology and Canon Law at the abbey of Montearagón (Huesca), as we learn from his only printed work.

Here Navarro condemns vulgar superstition as sinful, attacking false devotion to diviners, astrologers, healers, magic and witchcraft, as well as belief in spells, revelations, visions, dreams and the kabbalah. Father Navarro’s treatise was inspired by a long tradition initiated by Martin de Castañega with his Tratado de las supersticiones (1529) and continued by Pedro Ciruelo (1530), Andrés de Olmos (1553) and Benito Perer (1591). They were seminal texts in the early modern campaign undertaken by the Spanish Church, examples of a new genre of doctrinal treatise written not in Latin for an educated elite but in the vernacular for a wide audience. As the title indicates, the work deals with different kinds of superstition. In the opinion of the author behind them all was the hand of the Devil. It is dedicated to Jesus, patron of the Church of Montearagón, and endorsed by representatives of the Inquisition. After a prologue praising the fight against heresy by the Doctors of Spain which disabused the common people of the sin of superstition, the work comprises 37 chapters or disputes. Dispute 1 defines superstition as a blend of idolatry and divination, based on agreement with the Devil. Disputes 2-17 focus on the Devils’ powers, for instance whether the devil can transform one thing into another as from man to beast or preserve a living body without eating. Several chapters are then devoted to wizards and witches. Dispute 20, particularly describes night meetings with the Devil (Sabbaths). Navarro explains that thanks to the Devil, Witches can resist the torture inflicted by the judges (21). Many chapters concern spells relating to impotence and the health of men, abortion and difficulty to give birth, natural remedies to remove spells, their use to heal disease, especially rabies and plague. The last dispute describes the salutary virtues of holy matter on body and soul, of the sign of the Holy Cross and the sacred name of Jesus. Examples of real events are provided as well as quotations from the Malleus Maleficarum and a number of religious sources, including the Gospels, Saint Augustin, Jean Gerson, the Fathers of the Church and many late ancient Christian authors, such as Tertullian.

Goldsmith, 123:19; Palau, X, 188203. Not in Brunet or Graesse. Not in Caillet. Not in Thorndike.


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