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The Formicarius, written 1436-1438 by Johannes Nider
Johannes Nider
during the Council of Basel
Council of Basel
and first printed in 1475, is the second book ever printed to discuss witchcraft (the first book being Fortalitium Fidei[1]). Nider dealt specifically with witchcraft in the fifth section of the book. Unlike his successors, he did not emphasize the idea of the Witches' Sabbath
Witches' Sabbath
and was skeptical of the claim that witches could fly by night. With over 25 manuscript copies from fifteenth and early sixteenth century editions from the 1470s to 1692, the Formicarius is an important work for the study of the origins of the witch trials in Early Modern Europe, as it sheds light on their earliest phase during the first half of the 15th century.[2] Nider was one of the first to transform the idea of sorcery to its more modern perception of witchcraft. Prior to the fifteenth century, magic was thought to be performed by educated males who performed intricate rituals. In Nider's Formicarius, the witch is described as uneducated and more commonly female. The idea that any persons could perform acts of magic simply by devoting themselves to the devil scared people of this time and proved to be one of the many factors that led people to begin fearing magic[citation needed]. The idea that the magician was primarily female was also shocking to some. Nider explained that females were capable of such acts by pointing out what he considered their inferior physical, mental and moral capacity.[3] The work is further of note for its information regarding notably infamous figures of the time, one of whom was the sorcerer Scavius, who reputedly escaped his enemies on multiple occasions by metamorphosing into a mouse.[4] Prior to his death Scavius was responsible for the tutelage of Stedelen in witchcraft. The title is Latin for "the ant colony", an allusion to Proverbs 6:6. Nider used the ant colony as a metaphor for a harmonious society.[5]

Contents

1 Context 2 Contents 3 Purpose 4 Footnotes 5 References

Context[edit] The Formicarius was written between 1436 and 1438, while Nider was part of the theological faculty at the University of Vienna.[6] The stories and examples that he presents throughout the book are taken from his own experiences and from his interactions with clerical and lay authorities. Most of these accounts are representative of the late medieval religious atmosphere of what is now Switzerland, southern Germany, Austria, and the southern Rhineland. This region is also where the book was most widely read.[7] The Council of Basel
Council of Basel
is where Nider was exposed to many of the second-hand stories he recounts. Many of the stories relating to witchcraft take place in the Simme
Simme
Valley and were told to Nider by Peter of Bern, who had conducted many witch trials in the region.[7] French cleric Nicolas Amici told Nider an account of the trial of Joan of Arc
Joan of Arc
during the council as well. Contents[edit] The Formicarius uses a teacher-pupil dialogue as its format. The teacher is a theologian who is clearly meant to be Nider himself, while the student is presented as a curious but lazy individual who is there primarily to prompt the theologian to recount contemporary stories related to the book's many themes.[8] Every topic follows the formula of the theologian reciting biblical, patristic, or scholastic literature. In each case, the student quickly becomes bored and asks for contemporary examples. After the theologian would present these, the student asks clarifying questions that Nider used to dispel what he saw as common misconceptions.[9] The contemporary examples that the theologian provides draw heavily from Nider's own experience and especially from his time at the Council of Basel. The treatise is organized the various forms and conditions of the lives of ants. The first book focuses on the deeds of good men and women and is organized around the occupations of ants. The second book, dealing with revelations, was based on ants' varied means of locomotion. The third book examines false visions and uses the variable sizes and kinds of ants. The fourth book deals with the virtues of saints and other holy people, using the stages of an ant's life cycle. The fifth book, on witches, is structured around the colors of ants. Additionally, each of the twelve chapters of each book was based on one of sixty conditions of ants' lives. This complex system of using ants as metaphors for various aspects of Christian belief and practice is only really addressed in the first few lines of each chapter, after which Nider focuses on whatever theme he means to address with almost no further reference to ants.[10] Purpose[edit] The Formicarius would have functioned as a kind of preacher's manual, with stories tailor-made for use in sermons.[11] It is primarily meant to be used as a means for encouraging reform at all levels of Christian society.[12] Nider used his teacher-pupil storytelling device as a means of convincing the ecclesiastical class of the validity of his points, supplying priests with stories they could spread among the laypeople, and aiding those priests in tackling common questions and misconceptions they would likely encounter. Nider, a Dominican reformer himself, intended the book to reach as wide an audience as possible through its use in popular sermons.[12] While the section on witches would be published later as part of the Malleus Maleficarum, Nider did not write the book as a guide on witch hunting. According to Bailey, Nider was much more focused on reform in general, which was opposed by demons, who worked their opposition through subservient witches. Nider presents reform and proper adherence to Dominican rites as the surest counter to witchcraft.[13] Footnotes[edit]

^ "University of Glasgow - Services A-Z - Special
Special
collections - Virtual Exhibitions - Damned Art - Germany, Switzerland
Switzerland
and the Low Countries". www.gla.ac.uk. Retrieved 2016-02-09.  ^ Bailey, Michael David. 2003. Battling demons: witchcraft, heresy, and reform in the late Middle Ages. University Park, Pa: Pennsylvania State University Press. p 3 ^ Bailey, Michael. From Sorcery to Witchcraft: Clerical Conceptions of Magic in the Later Middle Ages. Speculum, Vol. 76. No. 4 (Oct, 2001). 960-990. ^ Robbins, Rossell (1959), The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft
Witchcraft
and Demonology, Crown Publishers Inc., ISBN 0-600-01183-6  ^ Peters, Edward and Kors, Alan Charles. Witchcraft
Witchcraft
in Europe, 400-1700: A Documentary History. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001, p. 155. ^ Bailey, Michael (2003). Battling Demons: Witchcraft, Heresy, and Reform in the Late Middle Ages. Pennsylvania State University Press. pp. 95–96. ISBN 0-271-02226-4.  ^ a b Bailey (2003), p.96 ^ Bailey (2003), p. 12 ^ Bailey (2003), p. 97 ^ Bailey (2003), p. 97-98 ^ Bailey (2003), p. 99 ^ a b Bailey (2003), p. 92 ^ Bailey (2003), p.124-25

References[edit]

Formicarius. NIDER (Johannes). Augsburg, Anton Sorg [about 1484]; folio. Bailey, Michael. From Sorcery to Witchcraft: Clerical Conceptions of Magic in the Later Middle Ages. Speculum, vol. 76, No. 4 (Oct. 2001), pp. 960–990. Robbins, Rossell (1959), The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft
Witchcraft
and Demonology, Crown Publishers Inc.  Bailey, Michael D. (2003) Battling Demons: Witchcraft, Heresy, and Reform in the Late Middle Ages. Pennsylvania State University Press. ISBN 0-271-02226-4.

v t e

Witch trials

In British Isles

St Osyth Witches (1582) Witches of Warboys (1589–93) North Berwick witch trials
North Berwick witch trials
(1590) Witchcraft
Witchcraft
in Orkney Great Scottish Witch Hunt of 1597 Pendle witches
Pendle witches
(1612) Northamptonshire witch trials
Northamptonshire witch trials
(1612) Samlesbury witches
Samlesbury witches
(1612) Witches of Belvoir
Witches of Belvoir
(1619) Bury St Edmunds witch trials
Bury St Edmunds witch trials
(1645, 1662, 1655 & 1694) Great Scottish witch hunt of 1649–50 Great Scottish Witch Hunt of 1661–62 Bute witches
Bute witches
(1662) Bideford witch trial
Bideford witch trial
(1682) Paisley witches
Paisley witches
(1696) Pittenweem witches
Pittenweem witches
(1704) Islandmagee witch trial (1711)

In France

Labourd witch-hunt of 1609 Aix-en-Provence possessions (1611) Loudun possessions
Loudun possessions
(1634) Louviers possessions (1647) Affair of the Poisons
Affair of the Poisons
(1679)

In Germany

Derenburg witch trials
Derenburg witch trials
(1555) Wiesensteig witch trial
Wiesensteig witch trial
(1562–63) Trier witch trials
Trier witch trials
(1581–93) Pappenheimer family witch trial (1600) Fulda witch trials
Fulda witch trials
(1603–06) Ellwangen witch trial (1611–18) Eichstätt witch trials
Eichstätt witch trials
(1617-30) Würzburg witch trial
Würzburg witch trial
(1626–31) Bamberg witch trials
Bamberg witch trials
(1626–31) Mergentheim witch trials (1628–31) Esslingen witch trials (1662–66) Witch trial of Fuersteneck
Witch trial of Fuersteneck
(1703)

In Scandinavia

Køge Huskors (1608–15) Finspång witch trial
Finspång witch trial
(1617) Vardø witch trials (1621) Ramsele witch trial (1634) Kirkjuból witch trial (1656) Vardø witch trials (1662–63) Mora witch trial
Mora witch trial
(1669) Torsåker witch trials
Torsåker witch trials
(1675) Rugård witch trials (1685–86) Thisted witch trial (1696–98)

Elsewhere in Europe

Valais witch trials (1428–47) Val Camonica witch trials
Val Camonica witch trials
(1505, 1518) Navarre witch trials (1525-26) Polula witch trials (1542) Lisbon witch trial (1559-60) Benandanti
Benandanti
(1575-1650) Fairy witch trials of Sicily (1579-1651) Basque witch trials
Basque witch trials
(1609) Roermond witch trial (1613) Spa witch trial (1616) Terrassa witch trials (1615-1619) Werewolf witch trials Witch trial of Nogaredo (1646–47) Salzburg witch trials (1675–81) Northern Moravia witch trials (1678) Liechtenstein witch trials (1679–82) Szeged witch trials (1728–29) Doruchowo witch trial (1783)

Outside of Europe

Salem witch trials
Salem witch trials
(1692–93)

Texts

Formicarius (1475) Summis desiderantes affectibus
Summis desiderantes affectibus
(1484) Malleus Maleficarum
Malleus Maleficarum
(1486) Laienspiegel
Laienspiegel
(1509) Witchcraft
Witchcraft
Act (England) (1562) Newes from Scotland
Newes from Scotland
(1591) Daemonolatreiae libri tres (1595) Daemonologie
Daemonologie
(1597) Magical Investigations (1599) Compendium Maleficarum
Compendium Maleficarum
(1608) A Guide to Grand-Jury Men
A Guide to Grand-Jury Men
(1627) The Discovery of Witches
The Discovery of Witches
(1647) Treatises on the Apparitions of Spirits and on Vampires or Revenants (1751)

Related

Drudenhaus Witchcraft
Witchcraft
Act 1735 (Great Britain) Witchcraft
Witchcraft
Acts

v t e

Witchcraft
Witchcraft
and magic

Types

African witchcraft

Vodun Witch smeller

Asian witchcraft

Kulam Onmyōdō

Australasian witchcraft

Makutu

European witchcraft

Akelarre Benandanti Brujería Cunning folk Seiðr Völva White witch Witch-cult hypothesis

North American witchcraft

21 Divisiones Granny woman Hoodoo Huna Pow-wow Santería Vodou Voodoo

South American witchcraft

Candomblé

Wicca

Practices

Animism Black magic Coven Demon Divination Entheogen Evocation Familiar spirit Flying ointment Jinn Magic Magic circle Necromancy Occultism Poppet Potions Shamanism Sigils Spiritism Spiritualism Witch ball Witch's ladder Witches' Sabbath

Objects

Amulet Broom Cloak of invisibility Magic carpet Magic ring Magic sword Talisman Wand

Folklore and mythology

Agamede Aradia Baba Yaga Daayan Drude Elbow witch Huld Kalku Hecate Circe Medea Muma Pădurii Obayifo Sea witch Sorginak Spearfinger Three Witches Witch of Endor

Major historic treatises

Formicarius (1475) Summis desiderantes affectibus
Summis desiderantes affectibus
(1484) Malleus Maleficarum
Malleus Maleficarum
(1487) The Discoverie of Witchcraft
Witchcraft
(1584) Daemonologie
Daemonologie
(1597) Compendium Maleficarum
Compendium Maleficarum
(1608) A Guide to Grand-Jury Men
A Guide to Grand-Jury Men
(1627) The Discovery of Witches
The Discovery of Witches
(1647) Treatise on the Apparitions of Spirits and on Vampires or Revenants (1751)

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