Boguet, Henri (ca. 1550-1619)

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Boguet, Henri (ca. 1550-1619)

Grand Justice of the district of Saint Claude in Burgundy, France, during the seventeenth-century European witchcraft mania. He was the author of a work full of ferocious zeal against sorcerers.

This book, entitled Discours des sorciers, was published at the beginning of the seventeenth century and was later burned because of the inhumanities crowding its pages, but it went into 12 editions in two decades. The book is a compilation of procedures for judging sorcerers and their alleged acts, most of which the author himself presided over. They exhibit the most incredible absurdities and criminal credulity.

Its pages contain the proceedings against little Louise Mail-lat, who at the age of eight was said to be possessed of eight demons; Françoise Secretain, a sorceress who had meetings with said demons and who had the Devil for her lover; and the sorcerers Gros-Jacques and Willirmoz. Claude Gailiard and Roland Duvernois and many others figured in the author's dread judgments.

Boguet detailed the horrible doings of the witches' Sabbat, how the sorcerers caused hail to fall, of which they made a powder to be used as poison, how they used an unguent to carry them to Sabbat, how a sorcerer was able to slay anyone by means of a mere breath, and, when arraigned before a judge, they could not shed tears. He described Devil's mark found on their skins, of how all sorcerers and magicians possess the power to change their forms into those of wolves, and how for these offences they were burned at the stake without sacrament, so that they were destroyed body and soul.

The work ended with instructions to the judges of cases of sorcery, which is often known as the Code des sorciers.

Sources:

Boguet, Henri. Discours des sorciers. Translated as Examen of Witches. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1971.

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