Jean Bodin and the Definition of a Witch

Jean Bodin. From De la demonomanie des sorciers ..., 1580.

Image of Jean Bodin and the Definition of a Witch

Jean Bodin, a demonology and political theorist, provides a definition of a witch at the beginning of his book “On the Demonmania of Witches.”

“On the Demonmania of Witches”

Image of Jean Bodin and the Definition of a Witch

Jean Bodin, a demonology and political theorist, provides a definition of a witch at the beginning of his book “On the Demonmania of Witches.”

The Definition of a Witch

Chapter 1

A witch is one who knowingly tries to accomplish something by diabolical means. I have set down this definition because it is necessary not only to understand this treatise, but also for the judgements that must be rendered against witches, which has been omitted up to now by all those who have written on witches; however, it is the foundation on which this treatise will be built. Therefore, let us examine our definition in detail. First, I use the word knowingly, since it is true that error cannot involve any consent, as the law says. So, a sick person who in good faith uses a diabolical formula given to him by a witch who he thought was a good man, is not a witch for his has a just case for his ignorance. But this is not the case if the witch announces it to him or invokes evil spirits in his presence, as they sometimes do. I have give this only as an example and it will be treated more fully below.

Metadata Details
Item Type Book
Title Jean Bodin and the Definition of a Witch
Publication Title De la demonomanie des sorciers ...
Creator Jean Bodin
Publication Date 1580
Language French
Call Number Case B 88 .0958
Location Special Collections