Nicholas Remy

Remy Nicholas is a French lawyer and demonologist who claimed to put at least 900 witches to their death.  Nicholas Remy believed in Sabbaths, black magic, witchcraft and their ability to shape shift with the help of an enigmatic ointment.  His book entitled Demonolatry was used by other people engaged on witch hunting.  Remy was from a family of renowned lawyers.  He took up his college education at the University of Toulouse and decided to practice his profession in Paris during the period 1563-1570.  Remy has also some notable works that became a part of the history. 

When Nicholas Remy was in a younger age, he witnessed a trial of a witch.  Eventually when Remy reached his maturity, he decided to start his own battle against the evil creatures.  This was after the death of his son.  Apparently, Remy was convinced that a witch casted a spell upon his son that killed him.  He suspected an old woman whom he refused to give alms; incidentally after that event, his eldest son dies weeks after.  The old woman was prosecuted for supposedly enchanting his son.  He has a similar principle to Jean Bodin who believes that witches should suffer.

He started writing his famous works “Demonolatry” after his retirement.  The book contains most of his first hand experience during the trial of the witches.  He said in one section of his book, that all witches that were put into trial have the ability to take the form of a vicious wolf.  He also based his judgment on the credible trials of the witness who also said that they saw the suspect to change into a wolf.

This excerpt was taken on the trial of Petrone of Armentieres, 1581:

Petrone . . . was so moved with hatred or envy against theherdsmen of neighboring flocks, he used to utter certainwords by which he was changed into a wolf; and being insuch disguise, safe from all suspicion of ill doing, hewould then fall upon and rend in pieces every beast of theherd that he could find. 
There is also the case of a woman who was granted the ability to change into a wolf by the demon:

She had contracted an immoderate hatred of a shepherdof that village, and, wishing by any means to produce hisheavy punishment, sprang in the form of a wolf uponhis sheep as they were grazing. But he ran up and threwan axe at her and wounded her in the thigh, so that shewas disabled and was forced to take refuge behind thenearest bush, where she was found by the pursuingshepherd, binding her wounds with strips torn from herclothing to staunch the blood which was flowing freely.On this evidence she was taken up, confessed everythingas I have related it, and paid the penalty for her crimesin the fire.

Though there are other demonologist who claimed that a human could shape its form and that a spirit of a human is impossible to inherit the soul of an animal, the testimony of the accuse witness proved that they have the ability to change into a wolf.  So Remy decided that the shape shifting ability could only be an illusion presented to them by the devil:

The Demon can so confuse the imagination of a man thathe believes himself to be changed; and then the manbehaves and conducts himself not as a man, but as thebeast which he fancies himself to be . . .Secondly, these illusions can be caused extrinsically,when the Demon causes an actual object to assume theapparent shape which suits his purpose at the time, andso deludes a man’s senses into the belief that an object canbe changed into a different form.

Remy also agreed that the claims of these witches to transform into animals have basis.  He said that anything that is not natural is made possible by the devil and that includes changing the appearance of a witch into an animal:
 But there is another far stronger argument which mightappear to prove the actuality of these transformations. Itis not only the external physical shape that appears to bechanged; the witch is also endowed with all the naturalqualities and powers of the animal into which she isseemingly changed. For she acquires fleetness of foot;bodily strength; ravenous ferocity; the lust of howling;the faculty of breaking into places, and of silent movement;and other such animal characteristics, which are farbeyond human strength or ability. For it is a matter ofdaily experience that Satan does actually so empowerthem. Thus they can easily kill even the biggest cattle inthe fields, and even devour raw flesh, when they descendupon them as swiftly as any wolf or ferocious beast; andthey enter locked houses at night like cats; and in everyway imitate the nature and habits of the animals whoseshape and appearance they assume. Now this cannot beexplained away as a mere glamor or prestige by which oursenses are deceived in the manner already set forth; forthey leave behind them concrete traces of their activities.

Out of the 900 cases of withes trial that Remy claimed, only 128 is included in his book.  Furthermore no documents can prove that the supposed 900 cases are real.


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