The History of Magical Demonology

For those interested in the history of the use of demons in magic, I highly recommend “Les who’s who démonologiques de la Renaissance et leurs ancêtres médiévaux” by Jean-Patrice Boudet.  He presents a mid-sixteenth century manuscript at Trinity College, Cambridge (which I visited not so long ago) that parallels in some ways the Pseudomonarchia Daemonum of Weyer, though its list seems to be more comprehensive than Weyer.

Why’s that important?  Well, Weyer’s list begat that of Reginald Scot in Discoverie of Witchcraft, and Scot’s list was the likely origin of the demons in the infamous book of demons known as the Goetia, perhaps one of the most well-known books of demonic magic today.  What Boudet reminds us is that this book was by no means comprehensive, but merely one iteration of a lengthy tradition of lists of spirits compiled by magicians over the centuries.  As such, Boudet’s contribution bears a look by anyone interested in such historical issues.

Published in: on October 22, 2009 at 12:01 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. Boudet has produced some excellent work on medieval magic, and more is in preparation. His critical edition of ‘De Officiis Spirituum’, which should build considerably on this article, is I believe due to be published next year.


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