On the Inconstancy of Witches: Pierre de Lancre's Tableau de l'inconstance des mauvais anges et demons (1612)

Arizona Studies in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance (ASMAR), Vol. 16

On the Inconstancy of Witches: Pierre de Lancre's Tableau de l'inconstance des mauvais anges et demons (1612)

Edited by Gerhild Scholz Williams et al.
Translated by Harriet Stone and Gerhild Scholz Williams
2006 | liv + 586 pp. | 1 ills. | 978-0-86698-352-5 | Hardcover 6 x 9 in
MRTS 307 | $62 | €60

The demonology Tableau de l’inconstance des mauvais anges et demons (1612) is an important text in the history of the early modern European witch persecutions (16th and 17th centuries). It is a report of the author’s four-months stay in the Labourd (Basque) region of France, which is situated in the extreme southwest corner bordering Spain and Navarre. De Lancre was there as a member of a royal commission empowered to cleanse the region of witches. The narrative of his activities is based not only on his own experiences but also on the original trial records, which were destroyed in the 18th century. This text thus has assumed the authority of witness to the prosecution. Furthermore, this text contains one of the most detailed accounts of the witches’ Sabbath that survives, as well as an equally precise account of a giant celebration of punishment and forgiveness for various sins of witchcraft and heresy at the city of Logrono by members of the Spanish Inquisition on 7 and 8 November 1610. An ethnologist before his time, de Lancre gives an expert and meticulous account of the Basque people, their lives, their culture, and their alleged easy commerce with Satan and “bad angels.” The text was translated into German in a truncated version in 1630, but has never until now been rendered into English.