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Putting the devil on the map: Demonology and cosmography in the Renaissance

Maus de Rolley, T; (2016) Putting the devil on the map: Demonology and cosmography in the Renaissance. In: Vermeir, K and Regier, J, (eds.) Boundaries, extents and circulations: Space and spatiality in early modern natural philosophy. (pp. 179-207). Springer: Cham, Switzerland.

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Abstract

This chapter explores the conceptions and representations of space in early modern demonology, focusing on the contribution brought by cosmographical knowledge to demonology in the Renaissance. I start by examining the conception of the devil as an inhabitant of the air, free to invade the world of the living: a fundamentally mobile creature, the devil possessed a mastery of the sublunar world that made him akin to cosmographers. I then assess the extent to which demonologists incorporated geographical information into their treatises, and in particular material related to the new worlds discovered overseas. I argue that the publication of Olaus Magnus’s Description of the Northern Peoples (1555) marked a critical moment in the construction of this “cosmography of the devil,” and analyse one of its most striking examples: Le Loyer’s Discours et histoires des spectres (1605). The diabolical world map outlined by demonologists was a dynamic one, across which demons moved according to the flow of history. It expressed an anxiety beyond that of the fear of witchcraft: what is at work here is the idea of Europe being contaminated by the New World.

Type: Book chapter
Title: Putting the devil on the map: Demonology and cosmography in the Renaissance
ISBN: 3319410741
ISBN-13: 9783319410746
Publisher version: http://www.springer.com/us/book/9783319410746
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Demonology, Geography, Travel Writing, History of Ideas, Witchcraft.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > SELCS
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1505962
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