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Nicholas Remy

Written and compiled by George Knowles

 

Nicholas Remy was one of a number of French magistrates who gained notoriety as ‘inquisitors’ and ruthless ‘witch-hunters’.  Remy was the author of Daemonolatreiae (Demonolatry) first published in Lyons in 1595.  This was one of a chain of books written in the wake of the infamous Malleus Maleficarum (The Hammer of Witches) of 1486, intended to inflame the witchcraft delusion.  The Daemonolatreiae was reprinted several times, translated into German and eventually replaced the Malleus Maleficarum as the most recognized handbook of witch-hunters in Europe.  Remy’s claim to fame as an expert ‘witch-hunter’ is made on the book’s title page, in which he boasts to have personally condemned and burned 900 witches.

Remy was born in 1530? at Charmes in the Départment des Vosges, Lorraine.  His family has long been known in the Province and came from a branch of the ancient House of St. Remegio of Chalons sue Marne in 1254.  One ancestor Pierre Remy of Lorraine had been a Treasurer for Charles IV, King of France from 1322 to 1328.  His father Gérard Remy was the Provost of Charmes, while his uncle was Lieutenant General of Vosges.  With a family tradition of lawyers, it was only natural for Remy himself to enter the legal profession.  While studying law at the University of Toulouse, he met and studied with another notorious ‘witch-hunter’ Jean Bodin.

After finishing his studies at Toulouse in 1563, Remy spent the next few years practicing law in Paris.  In 1566 he inherited the ‘Manor of Rosieres’ from his mother, which had belonged to her mother the ‘Marchioness de Busancy’.  In 1570 on the retirement of his uncle, Remy left Paris to take up his position as Lieutenant General of Vosges, at the same time he was appointed by the Church to serve the Inquisition at tribunals in Alsace.  There he gained his first hands-on experience at prosecuting and condemning witches.  In 1575 he was appointed Privy Counsellor and Secretary to his Royal Highness the Grand Duke of Lorraine.  At about this time Remy married, first to N. Pouletier about whom little is known, then to Anne Marchand his second wife and started a family.  He is thought to have fathered at least seven children.

 

By 1581 Remy had been made State Attorney of Lorraine and Sheriff of the Court of Nancy, from where he started on his reign of terror, his “Purge of Witches”.  One incident in particular seems to have triggered his intense hatred of witches.  A year later in 1582 his eldest son was supposedly killed in a street accident after being cursed by an old beggar woman, one who Remy had earlier refused to give alms.  He successfully prosecuted the woman as a witch for allegedly bewitching his son, and had her put to death by burning.  Over the next 10 years from 1582 – 1592 Remy alleged with pride that he condemned another 900 witches to a similar fate.

Remy was a Roman Catholic and did his work with the blessings of the Church, utterly believing in what he was doing.  He saw every ‘witch’ as an agent of the devil that needed to be exterminated, and considered it justice done when they burned at the stake.  According to Remy, the Devil could appear in the shape of a black man or animal, one that liked to part take in Black Masses.  The demons could also have sexual relationships with women, and in cases were they did not agree, would rape them.  He became a blood Inquisitor and coldly boasted of the torture he forced on witches to make them confess.

He quickly gained a fearsome reputation due to the methods he used, his hatred against those accused of witchcraft was such, that he even had children of 6 or 7 stripped and scourged while they walked around the stake used to burn their parents.  His imagination in the use of cruelty knew no bounds, and earned him the nickname of the ‘Torquemada of Lorraine’.  Despite his growing evil reputation, on the 09th August 1583 Remy was ennobled as “Seigneur de Rosieres-en-Blois et du Breuil”, by ‘letters patent’ of the Grand Duke of Lorraine, this was verified on the 06th March 1584.  As a nobleman, this gave Remy the right to bear a ‘Coat of Arms’, which he had emblazoned with the motto:  Semper Fidelus (Always Faithful??).

In 1591 Remy was elevated to Attorney General of Lorraine, in which position he was able to influence and override local magistrates who he thought were too lenient in their dealings with witches, thus maintaining his hatred for witches and his reputation as a cruel and fanatic witch hunter.  When an outbreak of the plague entered the province of Nancy in 1592 Remy retired from office and moved to the country.  There he wrote his infamous book Daemonolatreiae, based on his ten year campaign against witchcraft.

The book is divided into three sections, the first section is a study of Satanism, in which he describes satanic pacts, and the feasting, dancing and sexual orgies that took place at the witches Sabbats.  He goes on to describe how the devil drew people into his service, first with cajoling and promises of wealth, love and power.  If that did not draw people to him, the devil would then resort to threats of disaster and horrible death.  The second section of the book is an account of the witches activities, with much ado about their sex lives.  The third section contains notes and case details of his many trials.  While he claims to have condemned 900 witches, he cites only 128 cases here, however his figures and the names he gives cannot be authenticated, for most of the trial records of that period have been lost.  Speculation has it that Remy may have borrowed the records to compile his book and failed to return them?

Toward the end of his life Remy wrote another book the Historie of Lorraine, a small treatise about Rene II (1474-1508), which was published posthumously at Pont a Mausson in 1617, but this gained little historical merit.  His only success was his Daemonolatreiae, which was immensely popular in his day, and went through 8 editions including two translations into German.  Together with the works of his contemporary Jean Bodin, to some extent Remy’s book replaced the infamous Malleus Maleficarum as a leading authoritative guide to witch-hunting.

While he was responsible for the lives of so many innocent victims of witchcraft, and his book continued to influence the lives of others.  Remy lived out the rest of his own life in the comfort of his estate, where he continued in the service of the Grand Duke of Lorraine.  There he died in 1612, still secure in the righteousness of his murderous career as a ‘witch-hunter’.

 

Let not his name disappear in vain,

let history record his shame,

and let it be marked in Red.

 

 

Sources:

The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology - by Rossell Hope Robbins

The Encyclopedia of Witches &Witchcraft  - by Rosemary Ellen Guiley.

Website Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicholas_Remy

http://en.allexperts.com/e/n/ni/nicholas_remy.htm

http://www.search.com/reference/Nicholas_Remy

http://www.geocities.com/wells789/theremyfamily.html

 

  Written and compiled 01st April 2007, 15:30:08 © George Knowles

 

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Trees:

 

In Worship of Trees - Myths, Lore and the Celtic Tree Calendar.  For descriptions and correspondences of the thirteen sacred trees of Wicca/Witchcraft see the following:  Birch /  Rowan / Ash /  Alder /  Willow Hawthorn /  Oak /  Holly /  Hazel /  Vine /  Ivy /  Reed /  Elder

 

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Rocks and Stones:

 

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Articles contributed by Patricia Jean Martin:

 

Apophyllite  / Amber Amethyst Aquamarine Aragonite Aventurine Black Tourmaline Bloodstone Calcite Carnelian Celestite Citrine Chrysanthemum StoneDiamond  /  Emerald / Fluorite Garnet /  Hematite Herkimer Diamond Labradorite Lapis Lazuli Malachite Moonstone Obsidian Opal Pyrite Quartz (Rock Crystal) Rose Quartz Ruby Selenite Seraphinite  /  Silver and GoldSmoky QuartzSodalite Sunstone ThundereggTree AgateZebra Marble

 

Wisdom and Inspiration:

 

Knowledge vs Wisdom by Ardriana Cahill I Talk to the TreesAwakening The Witch in YouA Tale of the Woods I have a Dream by Martin Luther King /

 

Articles and Stories about Witchcraft:

 

Murdered by Witchcraft The Fairy Witch of Clonmel A Battleship, U-boat, and a Witch The Troll-Tear (A story for Children) /  Goody Hawkins - The Wise Goodwife /  The Story of Jack-O-Lantern The Murder of the Hammersmith Ghost Josephine Gray (The Infamous Black Widow) /  The Two Brothers - Light and Dark

 

Old Masters of Academia:

 

Pliny the ElderHesiodPythagoras

 

 

Biographies

 

Witches, Pagans and other associated People

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Many of the above biographies are briefs and far from complete.  If you know about any of these individuals and can help with additional information, please contact me privately at my email address below.  Many thanks for reading  :-)

 

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