OSUNA, Francisco de. [with] NAS, Johannes.
Flagellum Diaboli: Oder Deß Teufels Gaißl [with] Angelus Paraeneticus contra solam fidem delegatusMunich [with] Ingolstadt, Adam Berg [with] Wolfgang Eder, 1602 [with] 1588
FIRST EDITIONS. 4to, 2 works in one, ff. (iv) 76; pp. (xviii) 200 (iv). Gothic letter, t-ps in red and black. Woodcut decorated headpieces and tailpieces, charming vignette depicting the angel of the Lord appearing to the prophet Balaam in second work. T-ps a bit dusty, small tear to outer blank edge of second, light age yellowing, ink splashes to one leaf, small oil or waterstains and minor rare fingersoiling to lower blank margins of second. An attractive, wide margined copy in contemporary vellum stained red, spine a bit cracked at head and tail with partly preserved early ms. title label, yapp edges, two leather ties and traces of the other two preserved. Early ms. ex libris of the Franciscan Monastery of Dettelbach and C19 stamp, partly cancelled ms. “Sum ex libris Johan: Seb: Mollii” and “M. Michaelis Keller(i)s” to first t-p. Gift dedication “Carissimo Suo Georgio Medero Civi in Orhs(?)ug | Jo: Fischer M parochus in Carbach de(di)t a(nn)o 88.” to second t-p. Later ms. “Ego sum in” and 4-line inscription in Latin and German praising God and the city of Ingolstadt to verso of last.
A fascinating collection of two rare German anti-Lutheran works, both in first edition, concerning witchcraft, exorcism and the devil.
‘Flagellum Diaboli’ (Scourge of the Devils), is an interesting treatise on demonology and witchcraft attributed to the Spanish mystic Francisco de Osuna (c. 1492-1540) but only known in this German translation by Egidius Albertinus (1560-1620). The attribution to Osuna is disputed, as the work – in its surviving form – appears to be very German-centered, drawing largely from German sources and focuses on disputing Luther’s doctrines. Albertinus was an influential writer and translator, as well as advocate of the persecution of witches. ‘Flagellum diaboli’, and particularly its first part, is essentially a paraphrasis in translation of ‘Short Work on Witches’ (1507) by the Tubingen theologian Martin Plantsch. The second part of the work is the most innovative, defending the Catholic practices of exorcism and consecration of the holy water against the attacks of Protestant rationalists: “The second part (…) contained a point-by-point advocacy of each of the Church’s remedies against hostile sorcery (…) the Flagellum departed from its source [Plantsch] to apostrophize holy water and its benefits, and to excoriate those Protestants who claimed that ‘all waters are equally blessed by God at the creation’ (…) After a whole series of arguments from the symbolic significance of holy water, the text added: (…) [Protestants] are like dogs which bark at everything they do not know or do not wish to know. (…) The text assumed that Protestants must be failed exorcists because of their exclusion from the true Church” (Cameron)
Johannes Nas (1534-1590), bishop of Brixen, was a German Franciscan polemic writer and preacher of the Counter Reformation. Born in a Catholic family, Nas joined the Lutheran movement for a brief period during his travels as a tailor’s apprentice. However, after reading ‘Imitation of Christ’ by Thomas Kempis, he reconverted, entered the Franciscan Order at Munich, and became one of the best Catholic propagandists of his generation. A learned man educated at Ingolstadt, he wrote a catechism, several short didactic works and books of sermons, but he is most famous for his polemics against Luther’s doctrines and particularly for his six-volume ‘Centuriae”. ‘Angelus paraeneticus’ is one of his less known polemics, attacking the so-called ‘devil-literature’ which developed from Luther’s idea that the devil has a great influence on people’s lives. “Nas was a zealous opponent of this new kind of popular literature: ‘Within the last years’ he wrote in 1588 [here] ‘a great quantity of devilish books have been published, written in the devil’s name, (…)’ He quoted whole lists of devil-books that have been published, and then went on: ‘the pious Christians of old would not allow their children even to mention the wicked friend with his horrible devilish names (…) The world nowadays preaches and writes books in the name of the devil, and it is considered quite the right thing to do. And why? Because their grandsire and patriarch Luther began the game (…) The Catholics must not follow in this path” (Jannsen)
“Johan: Seb: Mollii” possibly corresponds to the German “Johann Sebastian Moll”, but unfortunately we were not able to identify this man. “M Michaelis Kelleris” might be the German preacher M(aister) Michael Keller, active in Augsburg in the second half of the 16th century (see: Die Chroniken der schwäbischen Städte: Augsburg, 1894, p. 178).
The second volume was gifted in 1588 by M. Johannes Fischer, parish priest of Karbach (see: Kolb, Rothenfelser Chronik, 1992), to his dearest ‘agnatus’ – a relative connected through the male line – Georgius Mederus, possibly Georg Meder (1536-1599), German astronomer and writer active in Kirtzingen and author of a ‘Prognosticon’ (CERL Thesaurus cnp01105937).