A TRVE DISCOVRSE, VPON THE MATTER OF Martha Brossier of Romorantin, pretended to be possessed by a Deuill.
AS faith is the gift of God, and a ver∣tue inspired by Diuinitie, whereby we do stedfastly beleeue such things as do not appeare vnto vs, neither by sense nor by naturall reason: so is too great credulitie a vice, that proceedeth from an infirmitie or weaknes of a mans minde, and that oftentimes by suggestion of the wicked Spirit. And therefore old authors haue said,*That not to beleeue lightly is the sinew of true wisedome:* and the Apostle forbiddeth vs to be∣leeue euery Spirit. The faith of Christians is greatly commended: but the credulitie of Magicians is much reprehended, as being so great, that it taketh away beliefe from all things; and is the cause, that by be∣leeuing euery thing (though neuer so absurd) in the end, men will no more beleeue any thing at all. Cre∣dulous Antiquitie hath bin deceiued by the delusions of Deuils, and drawne to superstition and idolatrie: but Christian Religion hath been alwaies contrarie to such deceits, to the end that the honor of the true God and sinceritie of faith might be preserued. And this Page 2 was the cause, that by the craft and subtiltie of the De∣uill, Christians had an euill report, and were by these Sorcerers and Deceiuers expelled, when they went about to work any of their delusions; for then would they cause to bee proclaimed 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, that is to say, Foorth Christians. Faith is a sure and certeine way to come to veritie, saluation and wisedome: but too great credulitie is the path that leadeth headlong to false∣hood, fraud, follie and superstition. This difference of faith and credulitie may bee shewed by many ex∣amples of ancient times: but there is none of them more worthie to bee written and knowne in these daies, then the Historie of Martha Brossier of Romoran∣tin, pretended to bee possessed with a Spirit. Many Prelates, Diuines, and Phisitians, all of them acknow∣ledging, according to the Christian Faith, that wicked Spirits doe enter into the bodies of men, and that by the commaundement and word of God they are cast out, haue by a diligent obseruation of all her signes and actions, discouered the cousonage and counter∣feiting of this woman, and haue made their report thereof to the Parliament, the true Protector and De∣fender of Pietie and Iustice. Other Diuines, Religious persons, and Phisitians there were, which either through credulitie, or to follow the opinion of the people, or for some other reason, haue said and assu∣red, that there was a wicked Spirit in the bodie of this woman, challenging al others for Infidels and Atheists, which should thinke, or say, that this woman was not a Daemóniake. The Parliament, by a solemne Decree of the Court, hath confirmed the iudgement of the better and wiser sort, and set downe an order, that this cre∣dulitie and superstition should proceede no further, to the detriment and hinderance of the Catholike Reli∣gion.Page 3 But to the end, that there may rest no scruple or doubt in weaker mindes, and that such a cousinage may be knowne to all the world: we haue briefly and truly written the whole Historie, we haue proued the said Martha not to haue been a Daemóniake, wee haue faithfully described the opinion and reasons of those which thought the contrarie, following therein the Original-writing of their owne hands, word for word: and haue withall confuted their arguments, as being grounded vpon too light coniectures. We doe hope, that those which shall reade this discourse will receiue pleasure and profit thereby, and con them thankes, that (without fearing the slaunder of euill speakers, and looking to none other marke, but onely to the trueth it selfe) haue resisted and made warre against the Author of lyes: and that they will likewise giue thankes to God, who hath discouered this cousonage, whereupon there might otherwise haue followed, not onely false miracles, but also great diuision and parts∣taking among the people: as by the discourse ensew∣ing all men of vnderstanding may know.
On Tuesday the xxx. of March 1599. at the com∣mandement of the right Reuerend, the Bishop of Paris, there met together, Marescot, Ellain, Hautin, Riolan, and Duret, within the Abbie of Saint Geneuesua, in the hall of my Lord Abbat, where was brought before them one Martha Brossier, who (they said) was possessed of a wicked Spirit: and this was in the presence also of the said Lords the Bishop and the Abbat, and many other persons of Note. By the commandement of the said Lord Bishop, Marescot (as the ancientest of the rest) questioned with her in Latin: (for the rumour went, that she spake all manner of languages) but she an∣swered not a word. Then said the Abbat, She will not Page 4 answer, vnlesse my Lord Bishop commaund her. Then the Bishop commaunded the Deuill to speake, saying, Adiuro te per Deum viuum, vt respondeas Dommo Ma∣rescoto. I adiure thee by the liuing God, that thou answere Master Marescot. But both the woman and the De∣uill were mute. She was againe questioned withall in Latin by Marescot the Phisitian, and in Greeke by Ma∣ster Marius Doctor of Diuinitie, and the Kings Reader of Greeke Philosophie: but she answered not a word. Then the Bishop being very desirous and curious to discouer the trueth: (because the said Martha had said, that this was no place to answere in) commaunded that she should be caried into a Chappell. Wherein, a number of Tapers being lighted, one Priest accompanied with two others, all apparelled in decent and Priestly gar∣ments, in the presence of the said Lord Bishop and the Abbat, and many other persons of qualitie, all being together in great deuotion and at their praiers, began to exorcise her. She, being vpon her knees praying to God, and making the signe of the Crosse, presently tum∣bled her selfe backward, first vpon her buttocks, then vpon her backe and vpon her shoulders, and then softly vpon her head. Whilest she lay vpon her back, fetching her breath very deepe, and quaking in her flankes, (like a horse after he hath runne) she turned her eyes in her head, blared out her tongue, and tolde the Bishop that he had not his Miter, and bid him that he should goe and fetch it. Then they caused certen Reliques of the very true Crosse to bee brought vnto her, which she indured to be put in her mouth. They presented also vnto her a Doctors whood, which shee stoutly reiected, as though the whood of a Diuine, or the Miter of a Bishop had more vertue and more Diui∣nitie in them, then the Reliques of the very Crosse. These Page 5 things being done, and many other, which would bee to no purpose to rehearse, the Lord Bishop commaun∣ded, that the Phisitians would tell him what they thought of it. Who after that they had maturely de∣liberated together, and considered all that they thought fit to bee considered, reported to the Bishop with the consent of them all, and by the mouth of the said Marescot, the ancientest of them all, what their o∣pinion was, and that in few words, Nihil à Daemone: Multa ficta: Amorbo pauca. Nothing of the Deuill: Ma∣ny things counterfeited: and a few things of sicknesse. And indeed all these actions were counterfeit, as hereafter shall be shewed. But in trueth her tongue was red, and they perceiued some little rumbling vnder her short ribs on the left side, proper to those that are subiect to the Spleene.
The day following, which was Wednesday the last day of March, Ellain and Duret met together: and when the Exorcismes or Coniurations were againe re∣peated, the said Martha fell downe at the rehearsall of certaine words, raised her selfe vp againe very lustily, made mowes vpon the Exorcists euen to their faces, and nothing else was then done, sauing that Duret pricked her with a pin, betweene the thumbe and the forefinger. After these actions diuerse times reitera∣ted vntill Noone, the Bishop demaunded of Ellain and Duret, what they deemed of it. But they intreated the Bishop, it might stand with his good pleasure, that the other Phisitians, which had seene her the day before, might be called, and others also with them, to the end they might more maturely deliberate of the matter: especially considering, that the said Martha Brossier, being commaunded to giue some tokens of her pos∣session by the Deuill, had made answere, To morrowe:Page 6 which request the Bishop found to bee very reaso∣nable.
Vpon Thursday the first day of Aprill, all mysteries were imployed and vsed: none of the remedies were forgotten, that are proper to the driuing out of De∣uils. They setled themselues to prayers: She blared out her tongue, turned her eyes, and at the pronoun∣cing of certaine words, (Et homo factus est: Verbum caro factum est: Tantum ergo Sacramentum: that is, And he was made man: The word was made flesh: Therefore so great a Sacrament) she fell as before, and vsed such motions, as they doe that are troubled with a Conuulsion. Yet all these actions seemed to the Phisitians to be meerly counterfeit: and therefore they would haue been gone. But my Lord the Bishop intreated them, that they would bestow yet a little more time for the pub∣like benefit. The Exorcismes or Coniurations were be∣gun againe: and then the woman hearing the words, (Et homo factus est, And he was made man) she laboured with all her strength and forces to make her gam∣bals, and being vpon her backe, in foure or fiue skips remoued her selfe from the Altar to the Chappell-dore: which indeed did astonish all the companie.* Father Seraphin waxed somewhat angrie, and said: If there be any here that is incredulous, and will trouble her, the Deuill will carie him away in the ayre. Then Marescot growing impatient at that cousinage, said, I will take that hazard and perill vpon me: let him carie me away, if he can. And so set his knee vpō her knee, took her by the gorge, and commanded her to bee quiet. She being not able to stirre her selfe, and seeing her cousinage to bee disco∣uered, said, He is gone: he hath left me. The good Sera∣phin approching neere vnto her, said, Indeede this is no∣thing but Martha: the Deuill is departed. Then haue I Page 7 made him runne away, quoth Marescot. The Bishop be∣ing very desirous to know the trueth, and doubting some counterfeiting, said: Let vs begin againe, and pray to God, that he would learne vs the trueth: let vs see if the Deuill will torment her againe. Then they sung Veni Creator, and the Apostles Creede. At this word, Et thomo factus est, And he was made man, she did not fall, nor was tormented any more: yea, when they shewed her the holy Sacrament, she neither was troubled, nor tumbled any more: but seeing Marescot, Hautin, and Riolan be∣hinde her, she said, Meddle thou with thy Phisicke. Ma∣rescot answered her: If thou doe stirre, and play the foole againe, I will handle thee well enough. In the meane while they perseuered in their prayers to God. She think∣ing that Marescot was departed, fell againe vpon her backe, plaied her old trickes, and vsed her ordinarie motions. Then Marescot, Hautin, and Riolan held her, and staied her very easily. The Bishop began to say to Father Seraphin the Exorcist, Good Father, command her to rise. The good Father cried vnto her with a lowd voyce, Raise thy selfe vpon thy feete, raise thy selfe vpon thy feete. Marescot said, The Deuill riseth not in our pre∣sence: and withall, because few people should take of∣fence, he spake alowd in Greeke,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. Nothing against nature, nothing against nature. And it is not to bee marueiled at, that the said Marescot, Hautin, and Riolan were not afraid, because they knew her dissembling, and beleeued in Iesus Christ, who is the terror of all Deuils.
Riolan, at the commaundement of the Bishop, spake vnto her in Latin, as followeth: Misera, quous▪ perges nobis illudere? Nunquámne cessabis plebeculam ludificare? Agnosce culpam, & veniam deprecare. Patent enim tuae fraudes: & nisi hoc feceris, breui tradêris in manus Iudicis, Page 8 qui quaestione veritatem extorquebit: Thou wretched wo∣man, how long wilt thou proceede to delude vs? Wilt thou neuer cease to deceiue the simple people? Acknowledge thy fault, and craue pardon. For thy guiles are discouered: and vnlesse thou doe so, thou shalt shortly bee deliuered into the hands of the Iudge, who by torture will wrest out the trueth. She being demaunded, whether she vnderstood this or no, answered in good sooth, She did not. It was thought, that now all this businesse was done: and the Bishop withdrew himselfe, and went out of the Chappell, with diuerse men of good Note, and com∣maunded the Phisitians, then being present, freely to tell him their opinion and aduise. One of them assu∣red him for certaine, that she had the Deuill in her bo∣die, because she had blared out her tongue very farre, and had indured the pricking of a pinne. Another amongst them said, that vndoubtedly hee had seene very many signes of counterfeiting: but yet his ad∣uise was, that they should stay three moneths longer, to the end they might be assured, whether she had the Deuill in her bodie or no. For Master Fernelius, as he writeth in his Second booke De abditis rerum causis, Of the secret causes of Nature, could not certainly know a certaine sicke gentleman to bee possessed with a Spi∣rit, till the end of three moneths. Sixe others there were, that very confidently and constantly said for certaine, all these actions of Martha were fained and dissembled, as it was reported on the Tuesday before. And therefore it was thought that they were now at the end of this businesse.
But vpon the Friday and Saturday following, being the fourth and fifth daies of Aprill, they called other Phisitians, (omitting the greatest part of those which had seene her before) and then they began a new Page 9 combat with this Fantasticall Deuill. One spake cer∣taine Greeke wordes vnto her: and she answered in French. Another spake in English: shee answered in French, but yet (as some say) somewhat to the purpose. They obserued her most violent and sudden motions to be without any change, either in pulse, or in breath, or in colour. The Phisitians then present, made report in many words and magnificall termes, that Martha was possessed with a Deuill, and signed it with their hands. Which report wee will write out hereafter, word for word, as it is in the Originall.
While all this was in doing, the Parliament fearing, that this concourse of people, which came to see this new Deuill, might breede some new Mo•ster of Sedi∣tion, (whereunto were are all too much inclined) made a Decree, That Martha Brossier should be committed into the hands of Monsieur Lugoly, the Lieutenant Criminall. Hereat, the Ecclesiasticall persons repined, and said, that this cause, of a woman pretended to be possessed, belonged vnto thē. The Preachers cried out alowd at the matter. And the King, being then at Founteyne-Bell'-eau, and fearing also, that of this sparke there might be kindled a great flame, commanded the like. And for the performance thereof, Martha was caried into the Chastelet, where she continued and liued al∣most for the space of two moneths, not as a prisoner, but being entertained very mildly, and well lodged: viewed and visited by Bishops, Abbats, and other Ec∣clesiasticall persons, Councellors of the Court, Aduocates, Gentlemen, and many Ladies and Gentlewomen, as many times and as often as any was desirous to see her. Be∣sides, she was viewed by many Phisitians, that is to say, by my Masters De la Riuiere, the chiefe Phisitian, Lau∣rence the Kings ordinarie Phisitian, Laffilé the auncient Page 10Deane of the Facultie in Paris, Le Feure, Marescot, Ellain, Hautin, Lusson, Pietre, Renard, Heroüard, Cousinot, D' Am∣boise, Palmier, and Marcés: all which did say, and signed it with their hands, that they had not seene nor obser∣ued any thing, that was aboue the common lawes of Nature. And yet many there were, who being still in∣fected with the old Leauen, had scattered it abroad throughout the Citie, that in the Chastelet she had plaied many of her Deuillish trickes: which was after∣ward found to be false.
The said Martha, being shriuen on the morow after Easter-day, and absolued by the Curate of Saint Ger∣maines, or the Vicar there, receiued the Holy Sacra∣ment, without making any stirre, or signe, or appa∣rance of a person possessed by a wicked Spirit. In the end, when al sorts of informations were most diligent∣ly searched, and all things well considered, the Great Parliament of Paris set downe a Decree, with great pru∣dence and clemencie, which wee will deliuer you in the end of this discourse. We haue declared vnto you the whole Historie as in trueth it was: and now wee must shew, by what reasons we were induced, firmely to beleeue, that Martha Brossier neither was, nor is possessed of a wicked Spirit: and afterwards wee will signifie vnto you, how sleight their reasons are, which held the contrary opinion, to the end we may cleere a matter of so great weight and of such consequence. But first we would haue euery man to vnderstand, that we were not any way assistant in this action, but only being called and commanded thereunto, by the right Reuerend, the Bishop of Paris: and that wee had none other scope therein, saue only God and our Conscience, not regarding what many might say thereof, nor the harme that might redound to vs thereby. And touch∣ing Page 11 the Thesis and Generall Proposition, there was neuer any doubt of it. For we doe beleeue, according to the Christian Faith, that there are Deuils: that they enter into mens bodies: and that they torment them in sun∣drie sorts: and all, whatsoeuer the Catholike Church hath determined of their creation, Nature, Power, ef∣fects and Exorcismes, wee hold to bee true, firme and stable, as the Pole of Heauen. But touching the Hypo∣thesis, that is to say, that Martha Brossier is, or hath been possessed of a Deuill, we say, it is absurd, false, and with∣out any likelihood. And to proue it, we will conclude by this generall Syllogisme.
- Maior. Nothing ought to be attributed to the Deuill, that hath not something extraordinarie a∣boue the lawes of Nature:
- Minor. The actions of Martha Brossier are such, as haue nothing ex∣traordinarie aboue the lawes of Nature.
- Conclusio. And therefore the Actions of Martha Brossier ought not to be attributed to the Deuil.
Those that are exercised in the knowledge of the signification and equipollence of propositions, and in the Art of Syllogismes, will confesse, that it is concluded very well in secundo Modo prima Figurae, that is,*in the Page 12 second Moode of the first Figure. The Maior or the Pro∣position is very euident, and Plato in his Apologie is of opinion, that there are Deuils, because there be many things where of a man can giue none other reason, but that it is the Deuill, as being extraordinary effects, and surpassing the forces of Nature. The Minor or the Assumption may bee knowne by an Induction of all the Actions of the said Martha Brossier. For what hath she done? Mary, she hath blared foorth her tongue, she hath roled her eyes in her head, she hath shewed di∣uers motions like to Conuulsions, and being laid vpon her backe, she hath shaken her flankes. There is ne∣uer a one, I do not speake of these tumblers, but euen of the very Lackies of the Court, that cannot doe so much. And by this reason, that excellent Dancer vp∣on the rope was rather to bee counted a Daemóniake, and possessed with a Deuill, then she is. Martha there∣fore hath done no Action, that wee ought to attribute to the Deuill, as hereafter shall be more at large decla∣red. Moreouer, is it likely, that after fifteene moneths being so often vexed and tormented, she should re∣maine fat and in good liking? considering that euen in the Gospell it is noted, that such as were possessed with Deuils, waxed drie and very slender? We are yet at this day all of vs of one minde and opinion, that the motions like to Conuulsions in Martha, proceeded not of any sicknesse or disease, because while she was in them, keeping her eyes halfe shut and halfe open, she perceiued and saw whatsoeuer was done, and did of her owne free will and power moue her eye, and by consequence all her body. Againe, such as haue a true Conuulsion indeede, vse to bite those which come vnto them, and put their fingers into their mouthes: yea, if a man put a cudgell betweene their teeth, they will Page 13 crack it: and withall haue their limmes so starke and stiffe, that they cannot be bended. Martha seeing her selfe staied and holden by any, or hearing certaine words of the Priest, wherewith she was before instruc∣ted, lifted her self vp lustily, as though she had had not fit at al. These motions then proceeded not of any dis∣ease, and therefore they were counterfeit, as wee haue alwaies maintained: or else they proceeded from the Deuill, as some held opinion grounded vpon verie sleight reasons: which we will throughly examine, af∣ter wee haue set downe the Originall report thereof word for word, and inserted the same in this place, as followeth.
THE REPORT OF CERTAINE Phisitians of Paris, touching the matter of Martha Brossier.
WE the vnder-named Doctors, Regents in the Facultie of Phisicke, in the Vniuersitie of Paris, touching the matter of Martha Brossier, a maide of the age of two and twentie yeres, or there abouts, borne at Ro∣morantin in Berry, who diuerse times to some of vs, but specially vpon Friday and Saturday, the second and third of Aprill to all of vs in common, (sauing and excepted one of vs, who was not there but only on the Saturday) was brought vnto vs in the Chappel of my Lord of Saint Genenefue, hearing Masse there celebrated by my Lord the right Re∣uerend Bishop of Paris, and induring the Exorcisme, per∣formed on the Friday by Father Benet a Capuchine, as∣sisted therein by Father Seraphin, a Religious person of the same Order, who had exercised her vpon the daies aforesaid: Page 14 and on the Saturday by Master Clerk a Lay Priest, as∣sisted by Father of the Order of the Fe∣uillans. And there, during the said time, we saw her some∣times in constitution, countenance and speech, as a person sound of bodie and minde: and sometimes dissigured with diuerse foule, vnseemely and deformed lookes: and now and then vexed and troubled with many different and furious motions of all the visible parts of her body: All the said euill fauoured lookes being either full of a kinde of scoffing, de∣ceitfull, and consining laughter: or very fierce, horrible, and silent, and oftentimes accompanied for the most part with a roaring. In the middest of all this, sometimes obeying and answering the Priest, aswell in gesture as in words, vpon com∣mandements and demaunds that were conceiued in Greek, Latin and English: but as farre as wee did marke, more of∣ten and more readily to Father Benet, then to any other: we do say in our consciences and certifie that which followeth:
That is to say, as it may be that all this, which is before set downe, remaining to bee specified hereafter, must necessarily be referred to one of these three causes, which are Sicknesse, Counterfeiting, or Diabolicall possession. And for the opinion that it proceeded of Sicknesse, we are cleerely exclu∣ded from that, for that the agitations and motions which we obserued therein, doe retaine nothing of the nature of Sick∣nesses, no not of those Diseases, whereunto at the first sight they might haue been resembled: it being neither an Epi∣lepsie, or Falling Sicknesse, which alwaies supposeth the losse of sense and iudgement: nor the Passion, which we call Hysterica or Suffocation of the Matrix, which neuer is either without vtter priuation, or at least without restraint of breath: (of which accidents neuer did there any appeare vnto vs.) But to the end we be not too long, and by excluding generalities, to exclude lik•wise all specialties, to him that shall looke neere into the matter, these motions aforesaid be∣ing Page 15 found not to appertaine to any of the foure motions pro∣ceeding of Diseases, that is to say, Shiuering, Trembling, Panting, and Conuulsion: Or indeede, if there doe ap∣peare any Conuulsions, and that a man will so call, the tur∣ning vp of her eyes, the gnashing of her teeth, the writhing of her chaps, (which are almost ordinarie with this maid while she is in her fits:) the confidence which the Priest hath when he openeth her mouth, and holdeth it open with his finger within it: testifying sufficiently that they doe not proceed nor are caused by any disease, (considering that in Diseases, he that hath a Conuulsion is not master of that part or mem∣ber wherein it is, hauing neither any power of Election or commaundement ouer it: and particularly in the Conuul∣sion of the Iawes, which is the most violent of all the rest, the finger of the Priest should bee no more respected nor spared, then the finger of another man, but should be as quickly bit∣ten off.) Adding hereunto moreouer, that the accidents of Diseases, aswell as the Diseases themselues, being found to haue their times of beginning, increasing, full force, and de∣clination, these torments here as they first tooke their begin∣ning, and mounted to their vttermost extremitie all at once, so did they likewise cease all in a moment. Diseases and the motions also of Diseases, (especially those that are violent) as they leaue the bodie feeble, the visage pale, the breath pan∣ting: this maide on the contrarie, at the end of her fittes was found to be as little moued and changed in pulse, colour, coun∣tenance and breath, as euer she was before: yea (which is the more to be noted) as little at the end of her Exorcisme as at the beginning, at euening as in the morning, at the last day as at the first. Notwithstanding touching the point of Coun∣terfeiting, the insensibilitie of her bodie, during her extasies and furies, tried by the deepe prickings of long pinnes, which were thrust into diuerse parts of her hands and of her necke, and afterwards plucked out againe, without any shew, that Page 16 euer she made, of feeling the same, either in the putting in of them, or in the taking out of them: and also without any mark of blood, (a griefe, which without Magike and without speech could not in our opinion be indured, without any countenance or shew thereof, neither by the constancie of the most coura∣gious, nor by the stoutnesse of the most wicked, nor by the strong conceite of the most criminall Malefactors) tooke from vs al∣most the suspition of it: but much more perswaded vs from that opinion, the thin and slender fome, that in her Mad-fits we saw issue out of her mouth: which she had no meanes to be able to counterfeit. And yet more then all this, the very con∣sideration before mentioned, of the little or no change at all, that was seene in her person after all these most sharpe and very long pangs, (a thing which no bodie in the world did e∣uer trie in their most moderate exercises) we are driuen, euen till this houre, by all the lawes of discourse and knowledge, yea and almost forced to beleeue, that this maide is a Daemóni∣ake, and the Deuill dwelling in her, who is the author of all these effects: for that next after the corporall and materiall causes, which wee doe not finde to haue had any place in this matter, come the spirituall and supernaturall causes, in the highest degree whereof, acknowledging God to be the Father of grace and mercie, and the Angels to bee ordained for the tuition and consolation of Mankinde, as Christian Philoso∣phers wee haue learned and know, that there is none but the Deuill that delighteth in doing euill.
Now if wee had seene that, which my Lord of Saint Ge∣neuefue and many others doe report, that this maide was lifted vp into the ayre, more then foure foote, aboue fiue or sixe strong persons that held her: it would haue been an ar∣gument vnto vs of an extraordinarie power, ouer and beyond the common nature and condition of man. But not being present at that wonder, we doe giue a testimonie of our know∣ledge, which is as much or rather more admirable then that Page 17 force and power was, viz. that being demaunded, and in her exorcising commaunded, (my Lord of Paris furnishing the Priest with questions and Interrogatories) this maide diuers and sundrie times, by many persons of qualitie and worthie of credit was seene and heard to obey and answere to purpose, not onely in the Latin tongue, (wherein it had not been imperti∣nent peraduenture to haue suspected some collusion) but also in Greeke and in English, and that vpon the sudden. She did (we say once againe) vnderstand the Greeke and Eng∣lish languages, wherein wee beleeue, as it is very likely, that she was neuer studied: so that there was no collusion vsed with her, neither could she inuent or imagine the interpretations thereof. It resteth therefore euen in the iudgement of Ari∣stotle in the like case, that they were inspired into her.
By reason whereof, and considering also (vnder correction) that S. Luke, who was both a Phisitian and an Euangelist, describing the persons, out of whose bodies our Lord and his Apostles did driue the Deuils, left vnto vs none other, nor any greater signes, then those which we thinke wee haue seene in this case: wee are the more induced, and almost confirmed to beleeue and to conclude as before, taking God for a witnesse of our consciences in the matter. Made at Paris, this third of April. 1599.
Now let vs briefly examine this long discourse: The actions of Martha (say they) which we haue obserued, are either counterfeited, or proceede of some Disease, or are caused by the Deuill. Of any Disease they pro∣ceede not, neither are they counterfeit: then are they caused by the Deuill. The Proposition is true: the As∣sumption is false: and we do deny it. How proue you it? Mary first you proue, that they proceeded not of any Disease; because euery motion that proceedeth of any Disease, is either a Trembling, or a Stifnes, or a Panting,Page 18 or a Crampe. This diuision seemeth to bee imperfect: because there bee diuerse motions proceeding from Diseases, which are mixt: as for example those that are called 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Mingled of a Crampe and a trembling: and 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, a Trembling with a Shiuering, which Hippocrates calleth 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. And these mixt kindes are sometimes so mingled one with another, that it is a very difficult thing, to referre them to any one of your simple kindes. But let vs not rest vpon this, seeing we are all agreed, that the motions of this woman procee∣ded not from any disease: and let vs examine the rea∣sons which you alleadge for the Deuill.
The first reason is, for that she being pricked very deepe with a pin, she neuer made any semblant, that she felt it. Out of all question, when she was but sleightly pricked on the side of her neck, she turned her selfe, and felt it indeede: and then Father Seraphin vsed his wonted excuse, and said, Here is nothing els but Martha. Well, a little after, being pricked somewhat deeper, she dissembled her paine: and therefore had she the Deuill in her bodie? The Lackies of the Court, which diuerse times will of themselues thrust a pin ve∣ry deepe into some fleshie part, as in the thigh, or in the arme, are they therefore possessed with a Spirit? The wise Stoike, being inclosed in the bull of Phalaris, said that it was but a gentle torment. Theeues that robbe by the high way doe easily endure the torture: we haue seene many that were burned aliue, and ne∣uer shewed any token of paine. Plutarch in the life of Lycurgus, saith, that the children of the Lacedaemonians did vse themselues to stealing, with so great feare to bee discouered in their theft, as one of them hauing stollen a yong Foxe, hid it vnder his cloathes, and suf∣fered all his bellie to bee rent out with the nailes and Page 19 teeth of the beast, and yet neuer cried for it, for feare he should haue been discouered, insomuch as he dyed in the place where he was. Which thing (saith Plu∣tarch) is nothing incredible, when wee see what yong children doe euen at this day indure. For wee haue seene many that without either crying, or speaking a word, haue indured to be whipped euen to the death, vpon the Altar of Diana. Behold the very words of Plutarch.
But ye will say, that Martha was pricked, without any blood following. Assuredly we did see a shew and a marke of red. And ye must vnderstand, that when a pinne is pricked directly and vprightly into a fleshie part, wherein there is not notable veine, it will make a very small and narrow hole, out of which blood doth not issue, especially if the blood be earthie and melan∣cholike. Vpon such a like argument as yours is, wee haue seene poore soules condemned to be burned for Witches, and afterwards absolued and let goe by the Iudges of the Court. A dangerous argument for such Witches, and yet in this question now in hand much lesse pricking then a pinne. But let vs argue by Phi∣losophie a little more subtilly. Galen sheweth against Aristotle, that Sense is not the alteration or chaunge that is made in the Organon or Instrument of Sense, but the knowledge of that alteration. As for example, (saith he) if I bee very attentiue to any thing, and in the meane while one passeth before me: although his image bee receiued into the Chrystalline humour of mine eye, as it were in a glasse, yet for all that I shall not see him, because the Visuall Spirit with the power thereof is kept backe in the spring and original foun∣taine of the sight: or the soule doth not send forth the Common Sense into the eye, because it is occupied else∣where; Page 20 and without it there can bee no Sense, and by consequence either little or no paine at all. If I bee very greatly busied or occupied attentiuely about any thing, although one crie out or speake alowd that is neere vnto me, yet shall not I discerne what was said, because the Common Sense is hindered elsewhere. Some haue receiued many shots of gunnes in the warres, that felt nothing thereof. Archimedes, being busied about his Geometricall lines, did not thinke that Syra∣cusa had been taken. If therefore constancie and re∣solution, as also a strong imagination doe detaine the Spirit Animall in her fountaine: if the Soule doe not send foorth into the part her Common Sense, without which there is either little or no feeling at all, and by consequence either little or no paine: doe we thinke it strange, that the patient, being very resolute, doth endure little or no griefe, and so dissemble it? This reason induced the Stoikes to defend this Paradoxe, That griefe or paine consisteth in opinion: because Imagi∣nation is the mother of Opinion: and if Imagination doe not worke withall, there is no paine at all. Cease ther∣fore to conclude that Martha was possessed with a De∣uill, because she was not moued with the pricking of a pinne: conclude rather that she was not possessed, be∣cause she felt not the pricking. For there is no likeli∣hood in it, and it is a thing incompatible, (not agreeing with it selfe) that the Deuill should quite take away the feeling of paine, from those whom he meaneth to torment: nay, he would rather augment and increase the same, to make them feele the greater paine. Cease ye also to marueile, that there followed no blood out of the pricke: for the onely apprehension or strong conceit of being let blood, is ordinarily a cause, why there followeth no blood out of the issue that is made, Page 21 although the veine bee very well opened. The com∣mon people doe vsually say, I was so angred, as if a man had stroke me with a dagger, I should not haue bled. And thus haue wee philosophically disputed about a pinne somewhat too much.
The second reason to proue, that Martha was pos∣sessed with a Deuill, is, That there appeared in her mouth a certaine kinde of thin foame. Who did euer heare any speech of the Deuils foame? If it be so, there should haue been added, that it was also blacke. For all that commeth from him being of hell, must needes be blacke. Yea, our good old women vse to say, That the Deuill hath no white at all in his eye. Who can for∣beare laughter, to heare, that a woman is knowne to be possessed with a Spirit, by her foame and spittle?
The third reason to proue that Martha was posses∣sed with a Spirit, is, Because she had certaine maruei∣lous violent motions, without any alteration either in her pulse, or in her breathing, or in her colour. But truly, her motions were not so violent, but that cer∣taine Phisitians, which could not patiently abide this cousinage, could very easily stay her: and so would haue done vpon the last daies also, when she plaied her part so cunningly, if they had been called. But, Non patebant fores, ne pateret veritas. The doores were not open, for feare least the trueth should haue beene opened. Moreouer, though the motions of Martha had been violent, yet were they very briefe and short: for pre∣sently she raised her selfe, and then the Exorcist said, Here is nothing else but Martha. But let vs confesse and auow, that these her motions were so violent and sud∣den, as they say, without any chaunge or alteration in her pulse: yet this signifieth, that her blood was very thicke and earthie, and so could not easily be kind∣led: Page 22 and therefore we say with Galen, that the pulse of such people is very rare. We haue oftentimes seene, sundrie Melancholike persons, not onely many daies and moneths, but also many yeeres, to haue runne vp and downe crying very strangely, and howling like dogs, without any change, either in pulse, or in brea∣thing, or in colour. Againe, vse and custome serueth greatly to this purpose. There were fifteene moneths spent in carying of her too and fro, like an Ape or a Beare, to Angers, Saulmur, Clery, Orleans, and Paris: in which time they taught her to practise all these gam∣balds, Et quae consueta sunt, minus afficere solent. The things that are of vse and custome doe not breede any great altera∣tion. How many things are there, which we doe daily see in Nature to be farre more strange, admirable, and incredible, which notwithstanding are not attributed to Deuils, but to the hidden secrets of Nature? We see those that are bitten with a mad dogge to barke like dogges, Men that are Warewolfes to howle and eate mans flesh like Wolues, because they haue their Ima∣gination hurt, and thinke themselues to bee Wolues. They that are desirous to know more hereof, may reade the two bookes of Leuinus Lemnius De occultis Naturae miraculis, Of the secret miracles of Nature. Mi∣zaldus and Fracastorius in the bookes of Sympathie and Antipathie: and Baptista Porta in his Magike Naturall: and also that which a learned man of this age hath written touching Miracles.
To bee short, there are an infinit number of things, that are done by the secret power of Nature: which if because they are secret, wee should attribute to the Deuill: then, to vnfolde the Questions of Naturall Phi∣losophie and Phisicke, from the beginning to the end of these two Sciences, we should alwaies haue recourse to Page 23Deuils. But this reason is of so slender force, as by the same I may conclude the quite contrary, that is to say, that Martha Brossier neither is, nor was possessed with a Spirit.
Those that are possessed with a Deuill, after their ve∣hement and sudden motions, do remaine astonished, and haue their members (as it were) cracked, as it ap∣peareth in the ninth chapter of S. Marke, and by the Histories reported by Master Fernelius in his second booke De abditis rerum causis, Of the hidden causes of Nature.
Martha Brossier, after her motions, was not in that case, but to the contrarie, remained liuely and lustie.
Therefore Martha Brossier was not possessed with a Deuill.
Now then, build your beliefe vpon such slender reasons as you make, to conclude a matter of so great weight.
The fourth reason, if it were true, would necessarily conclude, that is to say, if she had spoken Greeke and English, hauing neuer before learned either of those languages, it would be a certaine and sure argument of her possession with a Deuill. But that is altogether false. For she neuer spake any other language, then the French tongue, and the proper speech of Romoran∣tin, although false rumours haue been spread abroad thereof to the contrarie. But (say they) indeede she neuer spake either Greeke or English: but she answered to the purpose, when a question was demanded of her in Greeke. One asked her, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉: How camest thou into the bodie? She answered in French, For the glo∣rie of God. Now the very selfe same question in Gr•eke had bin made vnto her before at Clery, as Master Lieu∣tenant Criminal hath seene in his informations. It is Page 24 manifest therefore that there was a collusion in it. Besides that, she answered not to the purpose: for she was asked the means how he had entred into the bo∣die, & the answer was made of the end, that is to say, wherfore it entred into ye bodie. Father Benet questio∣ned with her a long time in English: and the good old Father asked her, What was his name, and the womā an∣swered, I was not at your Christning. O goodly Miracle: Martha had heard the Bishop, that furnished the good Father with Interrogatories (as euen the Phisitians them∣selues, which though the woman was possessed, haue written in their Reporte) and the Bishop willing him, to aske it in English, What was his Name, it was an easie matter for this cunning wench, being very craftie and well instructed in such subtilties, to answere, I was not at your Christning. But if in this woman there had been a Diuell in deede, how commeth it to passe, that hauing been so long a time conuersant in the Westerne Church, where Latin is so common, it had not in all that time learned that language? Now she did confesse, that shee did not vnderstand vs, when wee spake Latine: What was the reason then that she did vnderstand rather the words of the Priests, but onely because shee was alreadie instructed and vsed there∣unto, and so vnderstoode them, as an Ape or a Dogge vnderstandeth his Master? And for as much as whiles she was in the Chastelet, shee had vsually in her hands the booke of the Deuill of Laon, which shee brought with her from Romarantin, and which Monsieur Lugoly caused to be taken from her: I leaue it to considera∣tion, whether it were not of purpose to instruct her more and more in such Apish toyes.
Besides all these former reasons specified, they bring vs the testimonie of Saint Luke the EuangelistPage 25 and Phisician, to the end that this authoritie should be the greater against the Phisicians: who, when he reci∣teth the Histories of such as were possessed, and hea∣led by Iesus Christ, doth alleadge no more plaine and euident signes of possession, then those that were seen in this woman of Romarantin. Now let vs see whe∣ther this bee true, and well concluded. In the first place, Saint Luke in his eleuenth Chapter maketh mention of a Diuell that was dombe, and driuen forth by Christ, and doth not describe or set downe any signes, whereby this Deuill might be knowne. The Euangelists had no intent to describe any such signes. For they which were brought to Iesus Christ to be hea∣led, were euidently found to be such persons, euen by the confession of the Iewes, and on the behalfe of Ie∣sus Christ, hee knew them well enough without any signes. If therefore wee want none other signes of the Diuels possession, but those that are set downe by the Euangelists, then euery person that is Epileptike, or troubled with the Falling Sicknesse, euery Melancho∣like and euery Frantike person shall haue the Deuill in their bodies, and there will be moe Demóniakes in the world, then there are Fooles. But let vs see, whether Saint Luke doe not set downe more apparant and e∣uident tokens of such as are possessed with Deuils, then those which Martha had. This Euangelist and Phisician in the eight Chapter of his Gospell, descri∣bing the man possessed with a Deuill called Legion, (because many Deuils were entered into him) saith, that this man Ware no cloathes, neither aboade in house, but in graues. Martha did weare garments of a slight coloured cloath, after the fashion of a Romarantin Mayde. Shee was, when occasion required, at the table of Bishops, Abbats, and Monkes. Shee did eate Page 27 and drinke as other folkes doe. This Demóniake pos∣sessed with the Legion, acknowledged Iesus Christ to bee the Sonne of God, whom hee neuer had seene nor heard of, and therefore he knew things, that were o∣therwise secret. But Martha did neuer any such thing. This Demóniake, although hee were bound with chaynes of Iron, yet he broke them, and was caried away by the Deuill into the Deserts. But Mar∣tha was easilie helde and stayed with a very weake hand. Then is this authoritie of Saint Luke not well alleadged.
Now that wee haue confuted these slender and sleight reasons of some of the Phisicians, let vs come to the reasons of some others: and begin with the te∣stimonie of diuerse men of qualitie, which say, that they saw her lifted vp into the ayre for a space, with∣out any stay to vphold her. Goe too then: Let vs dis∣pute by Philosophie. Whatsoeuer is moued in recta li∣nea, in a right line, it must haue a rest, before it take a∣ny contrary Motion: as for example, a Ball being throwne against a Wall, before it reboundeth backe againe, resteth it selfe vpon the Wall, as Aristotle sheweth in his eyght booke of Phisicks: and an Arte∣rie, after the Dilatation thereof, before it make Con∣traction, resteth it selfe. And now you may see, why this woman of Romarantin, leaping vp into the ayre, rested her selfe before she came downe againe. But this is somewhat too subtile a reason: let vs yeeld you one that is more plaine and cleere. They tolde vs, vpon the Thurseday morning, that they alwaies thought this matter of Martha to be meere cousi∣nage: but in the after-noone, they saw her aloft in the ayre: peraduenture because some vapours ari∣sing vp into their braines, did breede certaine acci∣dents Page 26 like to Suffusions, or Clowdes, in such sort as a man shall see things (as it were) out of their place. Which may very well bee shewed by the Arte Optike. Yea it way possibly be, that they saw Duplicem Martham, v∣nam humi, alteram in sublimi (Two Marthaes, one vpon the ground, and another a loft.)
Others there bee, which haue alleadged another reason, in that Martha did lift her flankes, all the rest of her bodie remayning vnmoued. And so Horses, af∣ter they haue runne, when they pant in their flankes, (which Horace termeth Iliaducere,) may as well haue the Deuill in their bodies. I am ashamed to heare such reasons.
And in sooth, this which followeth is not much bet∣ter. They heard a rumbling vnder her left ribs, but it was very little, and that onely when it was touched. By this reason, those that are troubled with a Winde about the short ribbes, and poore Maydens that haue the Greene Sicknesse, and pale colours, shall haue the Deuill in their bodies. For oftentimes the sound in their bellies is so great, that it may bee heard aboue from beneath, and from one chamber to another. And by this reason also, they should not haue one De∣uill alone, but many. And in deed, if we beleeue those Good-Fathers, Martha had, and yet still hath three De∣uils in her: one that is an olde and a cruell one, cal∣led Beelsebuh: another that is a merrie one, which they call Ascalon, The lester of Hell: and a third which they call, The Skullion of Hell. And thus these reasons march all after one tune.
Some there be, which adde hereunto, that Martha discouered and tolde certaine Secrets of Men, in such sorte, as many of the assistants were in great feare thereof. Father Seraphin, (who alwaies walked with a Page 28 good simple conscience in this businesse) demaunded of her, What haue I done this night? Martha answered, Thou hast prayed to God. Behold, what a goodly great Secret this was, to tell a Capuchine Frier, Thou hast prayed to God. Whereby a man may know that the Ro∣marantine Wench mocked the simplicitie of these Good-Fathers.
Some bring a reason that is more vrgent, that is to say, That Martha did speake in her bellie, when her mouth and her lips were shut and closed. Truely Martha spake as another bodie did. And yet if shee had done so, should she therefore haue a Deuill, that spake within her bellie? Hippocrates in his fift booke of the Epide∣mies, the 58. sentence, maketh mention of the wife of one Polemarchus, which spake in her bellie. Iohn Gor∣raeus in his Definitions Medicinall, sayth, that in Hippo∣crates, they are called 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, which talke in their bellie, when their Mouthes and their Lippes are shut and closed. Looke vpon Scaliger against Cardan in the 258. Exercise, and the third part. Foetius in his Oe∣conomia Hippocratica writeth, that the Great Adrian Turnebus did say in his Reading-Chayre,* that he had seen a Rogue, who without opening his Mouth or stirring his lippes, did with his bellie, make such a sound, and vttered such a voyce as pleased him, and gained great store of money by practising that feate. And in truth it might very well bee done: because in closing or shutting the breast and stomacke, there may enter some ayre into the Arterie, which may make a kinde of sound or voyce, not very distinct or plaine to bee discerned at first, and yet by long exercise may bee in a sorte perceiued: and such persons are called 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, that is, Talking in their Bellies. Or 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Talking in their Breasts. Or 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Prophecying out Page 29 of their Breasts. Calius Rhodigynus referreth this to the Deuill, that speaketh within the Bellie. But hee is but a Reporter of Fables, and therefore let vs leaue these popular and common reasons.
Those, that haue thought themselues to bee some∣what more wise then the rest, as being skilfull in the Law, and making Profession thereof, haue oftentimes obiected against vs: If Martha were not possessed of a wicked Spirit, Cui Bono? Whose benefite was it? To what end did she all these things? To this question, it belon∣geth not to our Arte to answere. Yet notwithstan∣ding let vs entreate this fauour, that wee may make some gesse of the matter. To what ende doe many runne vp and downe the streetes, and say, that They are Emperours, and Kings, and Kings Sonnes, and Bi∣shops? You will then say againe, That Martha thought herselfe to be a Demóniake. It may be so: and to the end that she might imprint that opinion in the mindes of Men, she counterfeited and dissembled all the rest of her Actions. And it is not to bee thought a strange matter, that the selfe same person should commit an errour in one poynt, and in all the rest should be very cunning, subtile, and warie. Melancholike persons are craftie and malicious.
Let vs tell you a thing that is more likely then this. The Father of Martha, was alwaies factious; by com∣mon report. He saw that his daughter, who (as also the rest of his other Children did) was euer reading of bookes touching Deuilerie, and especially and prin∣cipallie that Booke of the Deuill of Laon was a very proper and fit Booke for these Deuilish feates and counterfeitings: adding thereunto, that many Priests, and namely the Theologal of Orleance, by that which she tolde vnto vs, confirmed her in this opinion, that Page 30 she had the Deuill in her bodie. And therefore hee caried her to Our Ladie of Ardiliers, to Saulmur, to Angers, to Clery, to Orleance, and now at the last to Paris: Whether this were done vpon a follie, think∣ing in deed that his daughter had the Deuill in her bo∣die, or thereby to make some stirre and alteration, or for couetousnesse, God knoweth: for that belongeth to the Parliament to looke vnto. But the very truth is, that many bestowed Money on her Father: as name∣ly Monsieur de S. M. Twentie Crownes, others Thirtie: some more, some lesse. Yea her Father being at Paris, went vp and downe a begging Money of the Church-Men, euen of simple Religious persons, to bring this holy enterprise to good perfection. And it is not to bee doubted, but if the matter had fallen out accor∣dingly, there would haue been good store of money gayned by it, and shee should haue been caried from house to house to gather a beneuolence, as was the Mother of Frier Clement, that wicked and cursed Apo∣stata and Runnagate,* the remembrance of whom bree∣deth a horror in my soule. And thus much for those that aske, Cuibono? Who had benefite by it?
Wee haue now shewed, that Martha neither was nor is possessed with a Spirite: Wee haue confuted the reasons of those that helde the contrarie opinion: We haue seene the testimonies of the wisest and most pru∣dent persons among them. Martha was caried to Angers to bee Exorcised or coniured. The right Reue∣rend Bishop Miron, (a man of good wisedome and well aduised) would not Exercise her, vntill hee had first tryed her, and knew of a certaintie that she were pos∣sessed. He caused her to bee stayed, hee bourded her, and for certaine dayes hee made her drinke nothing but Holy-water, wherewith shee was neither altered Page 31 nor moued. After certaine dayes he caused common ordinarie water, (not hallowed) to be brought vnto her in a Holy-water stocke: and then Martha seeing the Holy-water-stocke, layed her selfe downe, fell to her brabling, and made her wonted Apes-faces. After∣wards, the Lord Bishop told her that he had a peece of the True Crosse. Hee tooke a key of Iron, wrapped it worshipfully in Taffata like a Relike, and offered it Martha to kisse: and presently she began to play her Deuilish trickes. A little while after, when he sayde, Let one bring me my great booke of Coniurations, they cau∣sed a Virgil to be brought vnto him: and he began to reade, Arma virumque cano. By and by, she thinking them to be words of Coniuration, fell downe vpon the ground, and tormented her selfe in the best manner she could. At the last, her counterfeiting being dis∣couered, the Lorde Bishop sent her away, and would not prophane those holy Mysteries of Exorcisme, to driue away a Counterfeit Deuill. Others may imitate and folow the wisedome of this Prelate.
And what was done at Clery and at Orleans? The Officiall there, being well assisted with the wisest of the Clergie, did forbid all Priests of the Diocesse of Orleans, to Exorcise Martha, vpon paine of Suspension from Di∣uine Seruice. It would be a long matter, if we should goe about to rehearse all that was done at Orleans, for the discouering of this cousinage of the sayde Brossier: wee will onely tell you two of the pretiest of them. First, there was brought vnto her a great thicke Grammar of Despanterius, bound after the old fashion with boords, and with claspes of Copper: it was ope∣ned and giuen her to reade. Shee lighted vpon this place, Nexo, xui, xum vult: Texo, xuit, indeque Textum. Which words Martha thinking to be Diabolical, began Page 32 to fall backward, (but softly enough, as we tolde you before) and to fetch her ordinarie friskes and gam∣baldes. Another pretie tricke was, that my Masters of the Clergie in Orleans, would needes make experi∣ment of the graund Remedie to driue away the De∣uill, and that is called the Parfume. They did set fire to this Parfume, and offered those villanous and stinking vapours to her Nose, she in the meane while being bound to a chayre, but her feete at libertie to play withall: and then began shee to crie out, Pardon me, I am choaked, He is gone away.