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Religious Controversies of Sixteenth-Century France


Research conducted by social historians in the past few
decades has revealed a rich fabric of religious belief and
ritual in late medieval and early modern Europe. In
concentrating on behavior and practice, as opposed to
doctrine and dogma, these historians have shown that
Christianity as understood by the masses was at times far
removed from the liturgical and doctrinal controversies of
the elite. An examination of the accounts of demon
possession and of the treatises on demonology written in
France in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth
centuries can tell us a great deal about the thoughts,
beliefs and preoccupations of contemporary Christians. The
impression left by many of these is that the majority were
written in an attempt to suppress the unorthodox views of
the masses . It should be recognized, however, that many of
the Catholic elites defended certain beliefs which their
Protestant counterparts regarded as superstitious. One
cannot speak, therefore, simply of 'elite' versus 'popular'
culture. 'Ritual, myth and magic' often merged
imperceptibly with the beginnings of science, a field in
which the elites predominated. What is certain is that a
whole body of thought and belief which a few decades ago
was often dismissed as unworthy of serious historical
consideration has now been shown to be a fruitful area of

Historians working on the ecclesiastical history of France
in the early modern period are fortunate in that a rich
collection of pamphlets and demonological tracts has
survived and has been made widely accessible in a
microfiche series. One of the earliest accounts in this
series describes a demon possession which took place at
Laon in 1566. The testimony of three eyewitnesses, the Dean
of the Cathedral at Laon, one of the canons, and the Royal
notary of the city, was compiled by Jean Boulaese,
professor of Hebrew at the College De Montaigu in Paris.1
Boulaese's pamphlet, first published in 1573, provides the
following account. It begins in Vervins, a small town in
Picardy, and concerns a young girl, Nicole Obri, who was
approximately sixteen years of age. She was the daughter of
a butcher and the wife of a tailor. On the afternoon of 3
November 1565, while kneeling on the grave of her maternal
grandfather in the local parish church, there suddenly
appeared before her a man standing upright but entombed.
This spirit, who resembled her grandfather, spoke to Nicole
and informed her that he was indeed the spirit of her
deceased relative. Because she believed this spirit, the
author emphasized, it took possession of her body, and she
became so ill that it was feared she was on the point of
death. Despite such fears, Nicole soon regained her senses
and returned home to recount her experience to her

Boulaese records that Nicole told her parents that her
grandfather had appeared before her in order to exhort his
descendants to make the amends necessary to secure the
release of his soul from Purgatory. He told Nicole that his
soul was detained there because he had died suddenly
without having received the last rites nor having made
arrangements for the fulfillment of the pilgrimages that he
had vowed to complete during his lifetime. He demanded that
his family have masses performed, that they give alms to
the poor, and that they make the promised pilgrimages.
These deeds, with the exception of the pilgrimage to St.
James of Compostella, were accomplished, but Nicole once
again began to exhibit certain behaviors which were
regarded as signs of recurring possession. Upon the advice
of some friends, the family summoned the local curate to
try to conjure this spirit. When interrogated by the
curate, the spirit responded that he was "le bon Ange,
l'Ame de Joachim Vuillot," sent by God. Unsure of himself,
the curate consulted a Dominican from the local priory, who
immediately declared that the spirit was in fact an "Ange
mauvais et Sathanique . . . un Diable." Finally, under the
constraint of conjuration, the spirit revealed himself as
Beelzebub and said that, in believing him, Nicole had
allowed him to enter her body.3 

 As the Dominican, holding the consecrated host in front of
Nicole's face, proceeded to exorcise this demon, she became
"hideously horrible to see, frightful to hear [and]
incredibly hard and stiff to the touch." Nicole then became
mute, blind and deaf for unspecified periods of time. When
the demon spoke, it accused spectators of various vices,
sins and secrets which they had failed to confess to their
priest.4 The monk succeeded in restoring Nicole's sight,
speech and hearing by touching the afflicted parts of her
body with a portion of the true Cross . Finally, at the end
of the day, Nicole "received the only victorious remedy
that is our Creator, Savior and Lord Jesus Christ in the
consecrated Host." She at once became "holy of spirit and
body, inflamed with devotion, and endowed with a gracious
beauty that surpassed the natural." Boulaese added that
this was not accomplished by the efforts of the Protestant
ministers, for whom the demon said that it would do nothing
because they were his servants.6 The next day, 24 January
1566, Nicole was taken to Laon to see the bishop. The
remainder of the case involves an escalation of publicity
and manipulation by the Catholic authorities, a subject
which will be dealt with in more detail after an
examination of some of the questions raised by the early
stages of this particular case. 

In his analysis of Boulaese's account, D. P. Walker
dismissed Nicole rather uncharitably as a fraud. In
studying other contemporary documents, he concluded that
the origins of her "fits and delusions" could be found in
her medical history, though, as he insisted, "nothing in
her background can account for her really brilliant
performances as a demoniac." Walker believes that the
beginnings of the story amount to "a frustrated attempt to
have a good possession."8 

Similar notions can be found in some of the literature
written in France during this period. In the preface to the
second edition (1605) of his work III Livres des Spectres,
first published in 1586, Pierre Le Loyer, an Angevin
lawyer, remarked that, of all the common and familiar
subjects of conversation that are entered upon in company
of things remote from nature and cut off from the senses,
there is none so ready to hand, none so usual as that of
visions of spirits, and whether what is said of them is
true. It is the topic which people most readily discuss and
on which they linger the longest because of the abundance
of examples.9 

Allowing for some exaggeration on the part of this author,
who perhaps overstated the importance of his subject, it is
clear from these two examples that Nicole's vision was not
a mere aberration that can be passed off unquestionably as
an attempt to defraud. In addition, it should be noted that
both passages reveal that these views permeated all levels
of the social hierarchy and were not merely peasant
Lavater's purpose in writing his treatise was not simply to
confirm the existence of visions and spirits, but primarily
to prove that these apparitions were "not the souls of dead
men, as some men have thought, but either good or evill
Angels, or else some secrete and hid operations of God.''10
Le Loyer wrote his treatise in direct response to the
challenge presented by Lavater's work. "I have so well
proved," he insisted upon completion of his work, "by the
Doctors of the Church, that whatever thing that Lavater and
his may say to the contrary, nevertheless the truth is that
there are Spectres of Souls as well as Spectres of Angels
and Demons."11 

These two authors are representative of the ghost
controversy that raged during the second half of the
sixteenth century. This controversy is merely one aspect of
the polemical debates that arose out of the Protestant
attack on the doctrine of Purgatory. Although not
explicitly stated, it seems that it was implicit in the
Catholic position, and evidently widely believed in
European society, that departed souls could return to earth
to solicit the help of their descendants. In an article on
the subject of ghosts, Geoffrey Parrinder explains that,
"in developing Christian doctrine theologians discussed the
nature of angels, good spirits, bad spirits, the
resurrection of the dead, heaven, hell and purgatory. But
belief in ghosts and their possible return to earth was
left indeterminate, neither accepted nor rejected."12 

Protestant reformers in many parts of Europe launched a
savage attack on (Page 37) certain beliefs which they
considered to be inherently noxious superstitions of a
predominantly ignorant population. They maintained that all
souls were either saved or damned, and that these souls
proceeded directly to heaven or hell. While most Protestant
intellectuals did not expressly deny the existence of
spirits, they insisted that apparitions were not the souls
of dead men but rather were evil spirits sent by the devil
to lure weak souls through guile and deception into devilry
and wickedness. Keith Thomas contends that, "although it
may be a relatively frivolous question today to ask whether
or not one believes in ghosts, it was in the sixteenth
century a shibboleth which distinguished Protestant from
Catholic almost as effectively as belief in the Massor the
Papal Supremacy.13 As we have seen from the story of Nicole
Obri, however, this issue was not confined to the polemical
debates of Catholic and Protestant doctrinaires. There was
real confusion among the populace over the whole spectrum
of the supernatural ghosts, demons and the like. 

This confusion is further evinced by the actions of the
parish curate and the friar from the local priory. The
Dominican who came to observe Nicole's condition quickly
disabused the family, as well as the ingenuous curate, of
the idea that the souls of the dead might take possession
of a human body. Such heresies were condemned in the
exorcism manuals,14 so it was immediately determined that
Nicole had been possessed by a demon. Boulaese's account
contains all of the necessary indications of a true
possession as established by the Catholic authorities. In
the first stage, which has already been described, Nicole
demonstrated knowledge of the secrets or unconfessed sins
of others and reacted with violent revulsion to the
consecrated host. When the exorcisms continued, at Laon and
now conducted by the bishop, the other two conventional
signs of possession appeared: superhuman strength and a
knowledge of foreign tongues. Nicole had been restrained on
a dais at the east end of the cathedral nave. When the
bishop raised the host during the consecration, she
miraculously broke free from those men holding her and
leapt more than six feet in the air.16 

From this point the exorcism becomes even more
conspicuously propagandistic. The eucharist occupies a
central position in this account, as the short title
suggests, "La Victoire du Sacrement de l'autel." At one
point during the exorcism, the demon, acting through
Nicole, "looked as if it had wanted to speak to those who
did not bow their heads before the precious Body of our
Savior and Lord Jesus Christ,"17 as though a special
rapport existed between the demon and the irreverent
Protestants who refused to acknowledge the real presence or
 (Page 38) transubstantiation. On this same day, 8 February
1566, the exorcism was temporarily successful, and the
devout Catholics "were repeatedly saying that they would
die in order to uphold that our Savior and Lord Jesus
Christ is in the Sacrament of the Altar." Boulaese admitted
that the exorcism did not succeed in convincing all of the
Protestants, but some were converted.18 Walker asserts that
the eucharist played an abnormally conspicuous role in this
account, for traditionally it did not "occupy a privileged
place in exorcisms; indeed it had a less important one than
holy water, the sign of the cross, and other holy
objects."19 Clearly, the author was promoting the doctrine
of transubstantiation. In the days that followed this
initially successful exorcism, Nicole was repeatedly
repossessed. Each time, only the host was effective in
exorcising the demon.21 

It is significant that Boulaese emphasized the fact that
Nicole's proclivity to believe that the ghost was her
grandfather was largely responsible for the possession.
This suggests that he was writing not only to refute
Protestant doctrine but also to correct the misguided views
of an unwary populace. Some of the contemporary pamphlets
reveal that such beliefs could often be outlandish. In 1596
Claude Prieur, a Franciscan from Laval in Maine, published
a tract entitled Dialogue de la Lycanthropie ou
transformation d 'homme en loups. One of the participants
in the Dialogue, who represents the extreme views against
which the author's work was directed, inquired: "Do you not
believe in metamorphosis, that man can assume another
bodily form?"22 In response, Proteron, the disputant who
relates the author's position, embarked upon a lengthy
discourse, in which he refuted the widely-held notion that
men often transformed themselves into wolves and devoured
women and children. William Monter has stated that "the
belief that sorcerers can transform themselves into animals
is probably nearly as universal in 'primitive' societies as
is the belief in magical healing. . .But popular belief and
demonology differed somewhat about werewolves."24 Again we
see evidence of an attempt to steer the overly credulous
away from (Page 39) unorthodox belief. 

A similar attempt to combat what many among the elite
classes regarded as peasant superstition is evident in a
French translation of a book written by Jean Wier,
physician to the Duke of Cleves. The French work, published
in 1569, was entitled "Cinq Livres de l'Imposture et
Tromperie des Diables: Des Enchantements et Sorcelleries".
Speaking of certain diabolical arts practiced by magicians
and prognosticators, the author, Jacques Grevin, who
practiced medicine in Paris, protested that this plague . .
. has remained too long among the Christians: principally
in the places where the name of the Gospel is still not
clearly understood, and where the truth of the divine
service is spoiled by . . . pagan ceremonies, and
superstitions which without any doubt, were invented by the
finesse of the Devil, to deceive men.25 

He went on to say that certain priests and monks, who are
ignorant and of an "incomparable impudence," respond with
deception to those who seek them out in times of sickness
and need.26 Grevin also explained that the people most
susceptible to the ruses of the devil "are those who
mistrust the Lord, the malicious, those who are curious
about illicit things, those who are poorly instructed in
the Christian religion, the envious, the malfaiteurs, the
elderly who have almost lost their mental faculties, and
all manner of women."27 Equally susceptible, he continued,
are those who are "infested by the smoky vapors of
malancholy . . . from which proceed all sorts of fantastic
monsters."28 Finally, the author insisted that the primary
cause of the wild imaginations of the people was fear.
"Apparitions oftentimes appear to little children, to
women, to the fearful, to the delicate, and to the sick who
are incessantly tormented and persecuted by fear."29 

Most of these conditions of susceptibility mentioned by
Prieur constitute what Robert Muchembled has described as
the 'milieu magique' of the sixteenth century. He stresses
the ignorance of the rural masses, as well as that of much
of the rural clergy, with respect to Catholic dogma, the
sacraments and the ritual of the Mass. Along with this
relative ignorance went a pervasive fear of hell,
damnation, and death. Plagues and other scourges were
attributed to the action of evil forces in the world and to
God's punishment of impenitent sinners.30 According to
Muchembled, the sermons of this period were saturated with
"vocabulaire diabolique." But superstitious practices were
not always associated with such gloom and doom. Pierre
Crespet, a Parisian prior writing in 1590, (Page 40)
remarked that the devil and his ministers "make use of the
days dedicated to the veneration of the mysteries of our
faith, and of our redemption, and consecrated to the memory
of the Saints, for their ceremonies and diabolical
superstitions."31 He also deprecated "the follies and
ridiculous mummeries . . . [and] the odious ceremony that
is practiced in certain places of France, where every year
people solemnly wear on the first day of Lent a masque with
teeth extremely sharp and long and a face large and hideous
. . . which has been borrowed from the Idolaters and
Pagans."32 These were the sorts of beliefs and practices
which many enlightened contemporaries regarded as a threat
to the unity and even the subsistence of the Christian

As a result, Muchembled concluded, popular culture. .
.began to disintegrate under the action of corrosive
forces.... [cultural repression] developed to reduce
diversities that seemed too great, to destroy
superstitions, and to implant everywhere identical ideals
founded on obedience, orthodox religion, an austere
morality, and work . . . [the result was] a great effort to
acculturate the popular masses, the peasants in particular.
Thus a society clearly defined its orthodoxy and marked its
limits by creating a mythical counter society, an imaginary

Muchembled would regard these authors whose works we have
examined here as part of a broader effort on the part of
the elite to suppress the culture of the masses. This idea
of elite versus popular culture, however, is but one way to
look at these works on the supernatural. 

Michel Marescot, the author of an account of another demon
possession, stated unequivocally at the outset of a work he
wrote in 1599 that "excessive credulity is a vice
proceeding from an imbecility of the mind of man and often
by the suggestion of an evil spirit."34 He asserted that
"faith is a sure and certain path to arrive at truth,
salvation and wisdom: excessive credulity is a path that
leads us precipitously toward falsehood, fraud, folly and
superstition."35 According to him, this difference between
faith and credulity could best be demonstrated by the story
of Marthe Brossier, a twenty-two-year-old woman who lived
in Romorantin, a village in the province of Berry. Marescot
referred to her as one who pretended to be possessed ("une
pretendue inspiritee"). He related in his account how
"several prelates, theologians and doctors, all recognizing
by the Christian faith that evil spirits enter into the
bodies of humans, and that by the command and word of God
they are exorcised, have discovered by a diligent
observation of all the signs and actions the imposture and
dissimulation of this woman."36 He admitted, however, that
there were other monks, theologians and doctors who,
"either by credulity or in order to follow the opinion of
the people", (Page 41) insisted that Marthe was in fact
possessed by a demon, "calumniating the others as infidels
and atheists." The Parlement, to which the case was
submitted, "confirmed by a celebrated decree the judgment
of the best and most prudent [meaning, of course, those who
accused her of being a fraud] and ordered that such
credulity and superstition should not proceed any further
to the detriment of the Catholic Religion." Then Marescot
went on to describe the case in detail, "so that the
simplest minds would have no doubts."37 

On 30 March 1599, having been summoned to l'aris, Marthe
Brossier appeared before the bishop and his entourage and
informed them that she was possessed by an evil spirit.
Marescot, who was also present, addressed her in Latin in
an attempt to obtain proof of her possession, but Marthe
did not respond. Then she was taken to an absidial chapel,
and, when they started to pray, Marthe began to turn
somersaults, and her eyes rolled back into her head. Next
some fragments of the true Cross were brought before her,
but these seemed to have no noticeable effect. She did,
however, question the bishop's ability to interrogate her
effectively because he was not wearing his mitre. And when
the cap of a theologian was presented to her, she rejected
it wildly, "as if," Marescot scoffed, "a theologian's cap
or bishop's mitre had more power and more divinity than
relics of the true Cross." The verdict of all of those
present was: "Rien du diable: plusieurs choses feintes: peu
de la maladie."38 

Several doctors from the University of Paris continued to
claim, however, that Marthe had in fact been possessed . On
3 April 1599, they drafted a short tract entitled Rapport
de Quelques Medecins de Paris sur le faict de Marthe
Brossier, in which they testified that they had themselves
witnessed, during the past two days, Marthe's strange
behavior. They reported that Marthe had been seized
repeatedly by convulsions and had responded to commands and
interrogations in Greek, Latin and English.39 The doctors
gave their medical reasons for refusing to believe that
Marthe's behavior was caused by any physical malady and
concluded that the behavior could not have been fraudulent
because she evinced no reaction at having pins stuck into
her hands and neck. Even more convincing, they reasoned,
was the fact that neither any blood issued forth nor was
any visible mark left behind after the pins had been
retracted.40 Although the doctors did not witness it
themselves, a certain monsieur de Saincte Genevieve had
also seen Marthe jump more than four feet in the air while
five or six men were attempting to hold her down. In the
final analysis, the doctors were forced "by all the laws of
discourse and of sciences to believe this girl, Demoniac,
and the devil living within her."41 

Even more interesting than the events of this case is the
controversy among various members of the elite classes
which it sparked. In the second half of the(Page 42) year
1599, Leon d'Alexis wrote a refutation of the doctor's
arguments.42 He insisted that Marthe's failure to exhibit
any sort of reaction upon being stuck with pins was
inconclusive evidence of possession, for he had himself
seen people "burned alive without giving any indication of
pain."43 Then, in a comment which betrays his disgust at
the undue willingness of some men of authority to condemn
all anomolous behavior as demonic, Alexis makes the
following charge against the doctors: "Under an argument
such as yours, we have seen unfortunate people condemned as
sorcerers: then absolved by gentlemen of the Court."44
Moreover, he continued, "there is an infinity of things
that are done by the secret force of nature: because of the
fact that they were mysterious, it has been necessary to
attribute them to the Devil [as a means of] explaining
questions of physics and medecin."45 Finally, in a derisive
taunt which further displays his disgust, Alexis addressed
the contention that Marthe had knowledge of the secrets of
others. He recounted that, when asked by a monk to tell him
what he had done on a particular night, Marthe responded:
"You prayed to God." With undisguised scorn, Alexis
remarked, "Now there's a great secret to tell to a
Capucine: You prayed to God. Because of this it is
well-known that [the inhabitants of] la Romorantine mock
the simplicity of these monks."46 Alexis concluded his
refutation with an extract from the registers of the
Parlement of Paris dated 24 May 1599. Marthe was placed
under her father's supervision and was ordered to remain in
Romorantin unless express permission to depart could be
obtained from the "Juge chastelain" of the said locale.47
Alexis is representative of a developing tendency, at least
after the Italian Renaissance, to question antiquated
explanations of mysterious phenomena. Many Europeans, while
becoming increasingly skeptical of the traditional
propensity to attribute aberrations in nature and human
behavior to demonic interference, deplored the apparently
frequent practice of condemning innocent victims to be
burned for what they regarded as naturally explicable
behavior. Alexis,himself, considered the credulity of those
overzealous elites who encouraged the persecutions to be
more deleterious than the naive convictions of the masses.
He went so far as to question Scripture: "If there are thus
no other signs necessary to demon possession, than those
which are described by the Evangelists, [then] every
epileptic, melancholiac, phrenetic, will have the devil in
their body: and there will be more demoniacs in the world
than fools."( Page 43) who by this means is establishing
the reign of Satan. Even the judges are so blind that they
deny that there have ever been warlocks and witches."49
Henri Boguet, chief justice for the county of Burgundy,
conveyed a similar sense of horror and disbelief at the
growing number of skeptics. In a treatise from 1603, he
remarked: "I marvel at those who ridicule the exorcisms and
conjurations that our priests employ against demoniacs:
because what reason do they have to do this? Did Jesus
Christ not cure an infinite number [of such persons] while
he was in this world."50 Another author, Pierre Node,
exhorted the Judges and Lords of France "to avoid being
deceived by idle words, such as [those] used by beguilers,
Sorcerers, Magicians, and Nostradamists."51 Node then
warned these magistrates of the impending doom if they
failed to carry out their responsibility of eradicating
this threat to the kingdom. "If either unadvised pity or
negligence and scorn, or excessive disbelief softens the
hearts of those who hold authority over any province of
this kingdom in order to spare the life of these wretched
creatures who provoke our God to such a great extent, the
end of this poor France will not be unlike that of the
Israelite kingdom."52 

The writings of Crespet, Boguet and Node, present the major
elements of a type of propaganda that was not intended to
serve as a vehicle of oppression of 'popular culture. ' On
the contrary, this literature seems to have been directed
at the skepticism of other members of the elite classes. It
is in fact evident that one cannot speak of the 'elite
class' as a single, coherent entity. As one historian has
described the situation, "Protestantism aside, there was no
monolithic orthodoxy upon which all Catholics agreed in
every detail. The church in France lacked the machinery,
even if it had the will, to impose a single set of views on
all people."53 

Jonathan Pearl has shown that at least some of the French
Catholic demonologists were concerned with both the blind
credulity of the masses and the skepticism of some of the
elites. His views have been particularly influenced by
Pierre de Lancre's L'Incredulite et Mescreance du Sortilege
Plainement Convaincue (Paris, 1622), which he cites at some
length. He contends that de Lancre represents the middle
position between the two extremes of belief, because De
Lancre argued that We should avoid the extremes. It is not
necessary to line up with the Platonists who attribute
everything to demons; but one must even less hold the
belief of the Pythagoreans who laugh at demons, magicians,
and witches . . . One must be a Christian and hold
Christian beliefs according to the Holy Scriptures and the
doctrines of the Holy Fathers and confirm these
apparitions, not from stories gathered from everywhere, but
by visions of holy personages, by daily experience, and by
the testimony and confessions of witches.54
Pearl's reading of the primary source material led him to
conclude that "the opinion, widely maintained in the modern
historical literature, that the demonologists represented a
unified elite that was reacting violently against peasant
folk religion and general religious ignorance, is seriously
flawed because it ignores sharp divisions of opinion among
the elite class. The demonological works were written to
convince the learned classes, especially incredulous or
lukewarm clergy and judges, of the centrality of demonology
to good Catholic theology."55 While Pearl is correct to
stress this division of opinion among the educated, it
seems, on the basis of the evidence, difficult to deny that
some members of the social and intellectual elite were in
fact attempting to suppress the unorthodox views of the
masses, mainly in order to establish a greater degree of
uniformity of religious belief within their respective
territories. Furthermore, the two positions are not
mutually exclusive, as the passage from de Lancre's work

Although the subject of 'magic' as practiced by members of
the elite classes has not been dealt with in this essay, it
should be recognized that the meanings of such terms as
'myth', 'magic' and 'superstition' and just what practices
these words encompassed have varied significantly
throughout history. William Monter has stated that
"throughout much of Protestant and Catholic Europe,
governments made defacto compromises with learned magic
during the sixteenth century, while condemning popular or
'superstitious' magic and executing witches for their
maleficia.56 Such a comment reminds us that, in dealing
with such topics, we inevitably run up against a great deal
of subjectivity and biased preconceptions, from those
writing in the early modern period as well as from
historians of our own day. As demonstrated, however, a
widespread belief in ghosts, demons, witches, and other
phenomena often associated with occult magic permeated
European society in the sixteenth century. Many Catholics
regarded the growth of Protestantism as an insidious
development that attested to the rapid diffusion of evil
forces in the world and provided proof that the final day
of judgement was imminent. Most Protestants, on the other
hand, as well as an emerging group of Catholic skeptics,
regarded various diabolical practices and beliefs as a
mortal threat which had to be eradicated at any cost. Thus,
we should not dismiss the type of literature that has been
examined in this essay as the product of fanciful delusion. 

As Stuart Clark has correctly pointed out, to attribute the
belief in demonic witchcraft to some determining 'social
dysfunction' would not only beg philosophical questions
(Page 45) about the way language gives such traumas the
meaning they have but ignore the extent to which
contemporaries found reassurance in demonological (and
millenarian) explanations, even of chaos.57 These
demonological tracts were at once attempts on the part of
some contemporaries to suppress certain beliefs and
attitudes which they considered superstitious and of others
to contend that such views were indeed orthodox. For many,
however, they were simply a means by which one could
attempt to come to terms with aspects of an experience
which could not be explained.



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