Peter Binsfeld

Peter Binsfeld

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He was elected Suffragan Bishop of Trier and became a well-known theologian writer, who achieved fame as a one of the most prominent witch-hunters of his time. Binsfeld wrote the influential treatise De confessionibus maleficorum et sagarum, “Of the Confessions of Warlocks and Witches”, translated into several languages (Trier, 1589). This work discussed the confessions of alleged witches, and claimed that even if such confessions were produced by torture, they should still be believed. He also encouraged denouncements.

He thought that girls under age twelve and boys under age fourteen could not be considered guilty of practising witchcraft, but due to the precocity of some children the law should not be completely strict. This point of view can be considered as moderate, taking into account that other inquisitors had condemned to be burnt at the stake children between two and five years of age.

Contrarily to other authors of the same time, Binsfeld doubted that people could change shape into animals and of the validity of the diabolical mark.

In 1589, the same year Galileo was beginning his revolutionary experiments on bodies in motion, Binsfield published the authoritative list of demons and their associated sins, including the demons associated with the Seven Deadly Sins[1]: Lucifer (pride), Mammon (greed), Asmodeus (lust), Leviathan (envy), Beelzebub (gluttony), Satan/Amon (wrath) and Belphegor (sloth).

Binsfeld’s classification of demons

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