Remy, Nicolas (1530–1612)
Nicolas Remy, a French demonologist, was the author of the
frequently reprinted Demonolatry (1595), a standard reference
for witch-hunters in the next centuries. He was born around
1530 at Charmes, Vosges Department, in Lorraine. His father,
Gérard Remy, was provost of Charmes and his uncle held a
prominent position in the department. Following their lead, he
also became a lawyer. He studied at the University of Toulouse
where fellow demonologist Jean Bodin (1529–1596) also studied
and later taught. He married Anne Marchand with whom
he had seven children. In 1563 Remy relocated to Paris where
his career blossomed. In 1570 he was appointed lieutenant
general of Vosges, succeeding his retiring uncle. Five years
later he was also named privy councilor to the Duke Charles III
of Lorraine. In 1591 he became attorney general of Lorraine.
Remy traced his interest in witchcraft to his childhood,
when he first witnessed a trial of an accused witch. Once placed
in a position of power in Lorraine, he persecuted them mercilessly,
and bragged that he had been responsible for the condemnation
of over 900. In 1582 he personally prosecuted one
woman on charges of working malevolent magic after his eldest
son had died, believing she was responsible for his death. In
1592 the plague hit Nancy, and he retired to the country to
write his book, concerned that all should know the power of
witches. He wrote in haste, and the volume was unorganized
and abruptly changed subjects.
Demonolatry covers two broad subjects, the nature of Satanism
and the activities of witches, especially their sexual lives.
Following the lead of the Witches Hammer, the fountainhead of
witch-hunting books, Remy assumed that witches are worshipping
Satan. He also assumed that a sexual relationship with His
Infernal Majesty was essential to the witchcraft rites as were illicit
relationships with other members of the secret witchcraft
fraternity. The strength of Remy’s text was the material he
brought from his personal involvement with numerous cases.
His own personal reflections gave the volume an air of authority
that previous witch-hunting volumes had lacked, which accounts
for its widespread acceptance as a standard authority on
the subject. Remy argued that the influence of Satan was everywhere,
in fact that whatever was out of the normal was probably
due to the devil. There are no unexplained facts, hence whatever
is unknown is of the realm of demons.
Remy remained at his post until his death in April of 1612.
As attorney general he was able to prioritize witchcraft cases
and alter decisions in instances where local magistrates had, in
his opinion, been too lenient on witches. It was noted that he
retained his hatred and fear of witches to the very end.
Sources
Robbins, Russell Hope. The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology.
New York Crown Publishers, 1970.
Shumaker, Wayne. The Occult Sciences in the Renaissance A
Study in Intellectual Patterns. Berkeley University of California
Press, 1972.

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