Venice: Vincenzo Fiorina, 1616.
Quarto: 21.5 x 16 cm. [xxiv] 856 [i.e. 808] 143  p. Collation: a-c4, A-H4, I-Z8, Aa-Zz8, Hhh8, Iii4, A-O8. Without the general index.
TENTH EDITION (1st 1599).
A French translation appeared in 1611. A fine copy in contemporary red morocco, boards ruled in gold, spine ruled in compartments, also in gold, with the author and title tooled in the topmost compartment (spine lightly sunned, corners bumped, minor edge wear, small abrasions, one thread of the upper end-band worked loose.) the text is in fine condition, title and final leaf very lightly soiled, leaves H1 and A1-3 foxed. Small rust hole in leaf 2A6. Edges sprinkled red, end-bands of blue, red, and white silk. Title printed in red and black. This copy, like the Vanderbilt copy (Robert H. West Demonology and Witchcraft Collection), was bound without the general index.
The Jesuit jurist Martin del Rio’s “Disquisitionum Magicarum Libri Sex” (Six Books of Disquisitions on Witches) was written about 1596 and first published in 1599. The book had enormous impact and was consulted and cited for over a century. Much in the book is understandably frightening. Vague guidance is given for determining if a person has made a pact with the devil, and the methods recommended for extracting confessions from accused sorcerers and witches are horrifying. Even children, who are not to be racked, are nevertheless to be frightened into confession by being stripped naked, chained, and led to the rack.
“Its six sections discussed the following topics: 1. Magic in general, and the distinctions between natural and artificial magic; alchemy. 2. Diabolical magic; witches at the Sabbat; incubus demons; real and false apparitions. 3. Maleficia and how accomplished. How and why God allows men to be tormented by evil spirits. 4. Prophecy, divination (when heresy, when merely superstition), ordeals (Del Rio is somewhat dubious of the value of the ‘bain des sorciers’ or ‘swimming’). 5. Instructions to judges: indications and proofs of witchcraft follow practices for heresy but judges are allowed some latitude. 6. Function of the confessor; natural (coral, onyx) and supernatural (exorcism amulets) means to oppose maleficia.
“Under a veil of moderation-he permitted legal counsel for witches and he rejected lycanthropy -Del Rio revived the theories and procedures of the ‘Malleus Maleficarum’ with credulity and blind intolerance. For example, Del Rio told ‘another quite well-founded story’. ‘In the year 1587, a soldier on guard shot into a dark cloud, and lo, a woman fell to his feet. Now what do those say who deny that witches ride to meetings? They will say that they do not believe it; let them remain incredulous, because they will not believe eyewitnesses of whom I could adduce many’.
“By 1600, the venom of witch hunters was directed against the witch lovers who questioned the theories and practice of the witch trials. Said Del Rio: ‘Judges are bound under pain of mortal sin to condemn witches to death who have confessed their crimes; anyone who pronounces against the death sentence is reasonably suspected of secret complicity; no one is to urge the judges to desist from the prosecution; nay, it is an indicium of witchcraft to defend witches, or to affirm that witch stories which are told as certain are mere deceptions or illusions”. Like Bodin, Del Rio was acceptable to Protestant witch hunters because of his friendship with Justus Lipsius of Leyden. Consequently, he became well known in England.” (Robins, Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology, p. 121-123)
For a discussion of Del Rio’s work and its influence in the age of early scientific inquiry, see Waddell, “Jesuit Science and the End of Nature’s Secrets”, p. 32 ff.
Not in Caillet, “Manuel bibliographique des sciences psychiques ou occultes”; cf. Faber du Four 1243. Graesse, Bibliotheca Magica et Pneumatica, p. 47. Rosenthal, Bibliotheca Magica et Pneumatica, 2903