Demonology of William of Auvergne

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Examines the demonology of William of Auvergne, to determine why and how he constructed his theories out of contemporary lore about demons and other spirits. William was a master of theology in the University of Paris and bishop of Paris from 1228 until his death in 1249, a position in which he served as a major advisor to the young Louis IX. With his demonology he sought to impose an order he considered doctrinally acceptable onto the turbulence of early thirteenth-century France.


“In this elegant monograph, Thomas de Mayo studies what might be called ‘the middle region,’ that zone in cosmology bequeathed to European thought from the Hellenistic period, when neo-Platonic philosophers and Christian patristic writers were re-interpreting the Greco-Roman pantheon and the imaginary world of daimones. ... William of Auvergne, bishop of Paris and long-time professor of theology at the University of Paris, is the thirteenth century’s best informant on this complex range of beliefs. ... It is the great merit of Thomas de Mayo’s monograph to unravel these interlocking strands and explicate the worldview of William’s contemporaries at the popular level and the learned, ‘scientific’ expertise of his university colleagues.” – Dr. Alan E. Bernstein, Emeritus Professor of History, University of Arizona

“By examining William’s demonology in the light of the known historical setting of his day, de Mayo provides insight into the calculations that lay behind his theorizing about the nature of demons, which might otherwise seem like arguing about the number of angels that could dance on the head of a pin. ... For de Mayo, William’s work becomes a window onto changing ideas of nature and the supernatural in the thirteenth century, ideas that molded the framework for Western notions concerning witchcraft, insanity, and the religiously unacceptable.” – Dr. Linda T. Darling, Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Arizona

Table of Contents

Foreword by Alan E. Bernstein
Introduction – “By Fire and Sword”
1 William of Auvergne and the Making of High Medieval France
2 A Universe Filled with Powers
3 “We Are Legion”: Diverse Demons
4 Demonic Intent, Nature and Powers
5 Generation and Divination
6 Terrors and Apparitions: The Wild Hunt and Female Spirits
Conclusion – Synthesis and Censure

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