Sebastien Michaelis
Sebastien Michaelis was a French inquisitor
An inquisitor was an official in an Inquisition, an organisation or program intended to eliminate heresy and other things frowned on by the Roman Catholic Church...

 and prior of the Dominican order
Dominican Order
The Order of Preachers , after the 15th century more commonly known as the Dominican Order or Dominicans, is a Catholic religious order founded by Saint Dominic and approved by Pope Honorius III on 22 December 1216 in France...

 who lived during the late 16th and early 17th centuries. His Histoire admirable de la possession d'une penitente (1612), includes a classification of demons
Classification of demons
There have been various demonologies in Christian demonology and classical occultism and Renaissance magic. Classification systems are based on the nature of the demon, the sin with which they tempt people, the month in which their power was strongest, the saints that were their adversaries, or...

 which has passed into general use in esoteric literature.

Early career

Michaelis was vice-inquisitor in Avignon
Avignon is a French commune in southeastern France in the départment of the Vaucluse bordered by the left bank of the Rhône river. Of the 94,787 inhabitants of the city on 1 January 2010, 12 000 live in the ancient town centre surrounded by its medieval ramparts.Often referred to as the...

 during the 1580s and was involved in a number of witch trials: a series of cases in 1581 and 1582 led to at least fourteen women being convicted and burnt. In 1587 he published a tract on demons called Pneumalogie: Discours des esprits. By 1610 he was prior of the Dominican community at Saint-Maxim near Aix-en-Provence
Aix , or Aix-en-Provence to distinguish it from other cities built over hot springs, is a city-commune in southern France, some north of Marseille. It is in the region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, in the département of Bouches-du-Rhône, of which it is a subprefecture. The population of Aix is...


Aix-en-Provence Possessions

See also Aix-en-Provence possessions
Aix-en-Provence Possessions
In 1611 at Aix-en-Provence , Father Louis Gaufridi was accused of causing demonic possession in the Ursuline nuns at Aix. He was found guilty and burned at the stake atop a pile of bushes, because they burned slower and hotter than logs. This case provided the legal precedent for the conviction and...

In 1610 Michaelis became involved in a case of demonic possession at the Ursuline convent at Aix-en-Provence. This began when one of the nuns, a young girl of noble birth from Marseilles named Madeleine Demandols de la Palud, was diagnosed as possessed by a local Jesuit, Jean-Baptiste Romillon. Madeleine made accusations against her confessor, Father Louis Gaufridy, who was priest of the parish of the Acoules in Marseilles. She claimed that Gaufridy had sexually enchanted her (the devil having made his breath aphrodisiac), and inducted her into witchcraft, causing her body to be invaded by demons which would only leave when the priest was converted, dead or punished. She claimed her principal demonic occupant to be Beelzebub
Beelzebub -Religious meaning:Ba‘al Zəbûb is variously understood to mean "lord of flies", or "lord of the dwelling". Originally the name of a Philistine god, Beelzebub is also identified in the New Testament as Satan, the "prince of the demons". In Arabic the name is retained as Ba‘al dhubaab /...

. Unable to exorcise her, Romillon referred the case to the papal territory of Avignon, and the jurisdiction of Michaelis. Another Dominican, Francois Doncieux (also known by the Latinised name Domptius) served as fellow chief investigator alongside Michaelis.

Other nuns soon confessed to similar possessions, the demons in many cases prompting them to sermonize at length. One nun, Louise Capeau, claimed to speak with the voice of a demon named Verin
Verin may refer to:*Verín, a city in Spain*Verrine , a demon in Christian mythology*Verin , a demon lord in the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game...

 (or Verrine), and on 27 December 1610 announced the coming of the Apocalypse. Beelzebub
Beelzebub -Religious meaning:Ba‘al Zəbûb is variously understood to mean "lord of flies", or "lord of the dwelling". Originally the name of a Philistine god, Beelzebub is also identified in the New Testament as Satan, the "prince of the demons". In Arabic the name is retained as Ba‘al dhubaab /...

, speaking through Madeleine Demandols, maintained there to be a total of 6,660 devils involved in the possession.

Gaufridy was examined for the "devil's mark" by Jacques Fontaine, professor of medicine at the University of Aix, and when in early 1611 the required marks were found (Gaufridy claimed they had been made on him without his knowledge or consent), the priest was arrested under orders from the Parlement
Parlements were regional legislative bodies in Ancien Régime France.The political institutions of the Parlement in Ancien Régime France developed out of the previous council of the king, the Conseil du roi or curia regis, and consequently had ancient and customary rights of consultation and...

of Aix. He confessed while in prison, and on 11 April 1611 he was publicly tortured and burnt at Aix-en-Provence.

Admirable History

Michaelis and Doncieux co-authored a report on the case, Histoire admirable de la possession d'une penitente, which was dedicated to Queen Regent Marie de' Medici
Marie de' Medici
Marie de Médicis , Italian Maria de' Medici, was queen consort of France, as the second wife of King Henry IV of France, of the House of Bourbon. She herself was a member of the wealthy and powerful House of Medici...

. The book contains a detailed hierarchy of devils named by the nuns; many of these demons (often having French names such as Rosier
Rosier, according to A Dictionary Of Angels by Gustav Davidson, is "a former lesser-rank angel of the order of dominations, now officiating in Hell", the cited source being Sebastien Michaelis' Admirable History of the Possession and Conversion of a Penitent Woman...

 or Oeillet) do not appear in other demonologies, but the extent and systematic ordering of the list has led to its being widely adopted in esoteric circles.

The Gaufridy affair aroused great public interest, and an English translation of Michaelis' work, The Admirable History of Possession and Conversion of a Penitent Woman: Seduced by a Magician that Made Her to Become a Witch was published in 1620 by William Aspley
William Aspley
William Aspley was a London publisher of the Elizabethan, Jacobean, and Caroline eras. He was a member of the publishing syndicates that issued the First Folio and Second Folio collections of Shakespeare's plays, in 1623 and 1632.-Career:...

 (the translation, by "W.B.", also includes Pneumology, or Discourse of Spirits). In the same year, Michaelis became vicar-general of the Dominican order, and founded its new Paris community.

Later accounts

The nineteenth-century historian Jules Michelet
Jules Michelet
Jules Michelet was a French historian. He was born in Paris to a family with Huguenot traditions.-Early life:His father was a master printer, not very prosperous, and Jules assisted him in the actual work of the press...

 included an account of the Aix case in La Sorcière (1862), known in English as Satanism and Witchcraft
Satanism and Witchcraft
Satanism And Witchcraft is a book by Jules Michelet on the history of witchcraft, published, originally in French, in 1862. The first English translation was published in London in 1863. According to Michelet, medieval witchcraft was an act of popular rebellion against the oppression of feudalism...

. In that book, Gaufridy is referred to as "Gauffridi", and Doncieux as "Doctor Dompt, from Louvain". Michelet's version appears to have served as a source for many subsequent accounts.
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