Sep 26, 2019 - Sale 2517

Sale 2517 - Lot 267

Price Realized: $ 7,500
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(MEXICAN IMPRINTS--1616.) Inquisitorial edict condemning astrology. 6 pages, 12 1/4 x 8 1/2 inches, on 2 folding sheets; minor wear and soiling; uncut. Mexico, 8 March 1616

Additional Details

An edict published by the Holy Office of the Inquisition in Mexico City banning not only astrology and all forms of divination, but also tolerance and leniency towards such practices. This edict illustrates the supposed evils of astrology, said to inherently involve a pact with the devil. Astrologers reportedly tended to be female, owing to their alleged propensity to be easily swayed by the devil, and were also often malicious--casting spells that could render a victim infertile, or damage th ... An edict published by the Holy Office of the Inquisition in Mexico City banning not only astrology and all forms of divination, but also tolerance and leniency towards such practices. This edict illustrates the supposed evils of astrology, said to inherently involve a pact with the devil. Astrologers reportedly tended to be female, owing to their alleged propensity to be easily swayed by the devil, and were also often malicious--casting spells that could render a victim infertile, or damage their genitals. The edict explains (in translation) that astrology is practiced "with a mixture of many superstitions. . . . They practice the art of necromancy, geomancy, hydromancy, pyromancy, onomancy, chiromancy, using spells, invocations of demons, having with them a clear pact, or at least an implicit one, through which they divine the aforementioned possible fates, mixing the sacred with the profane, such as the Gospels, Agnus Dei, consecrated altars, holy water, stoles, and other sacred vestments that they have with them."
The edict also specifically made it a crime to not report astrologers to the Inquisition, demanding that all suspected astrologers be reported within 6 days. Clergy at the time were likely quite merciful towards astrologers, as the exasperation expressed in the edict makes clear. It is unclear how effective this edict was, but it led to at least one high-profile arrest. The infamous 1655 arrest of the Mexican intellectual Melchor Pérez de Soto and the confiscation of his vast library of more than 2000 books was justified on the grounds of this edict; he died in the Inquisition's cells. Medina, Mexico 300; Palau 193158.