Monthly Archives: August 2013

1487 demonology book

fortalitium marginaliapointyphingerCC Special Collections recently purchased a 1487 edition of Alphonso de Spina’s Fortalitium Fidei (Fortress of Faith), written in 1458 and published anonymously multiple times in the late 15th century. The Fortalitium is a pro-Catholic work containing arguments against Muslims, Jews, and other detractors; its final section is on demons and how to fight them. It may be the first printed book to discuss witchcraft, and most certainly played a part in the Spanish Inquisition. The Fortalitium is generally understood to be an anti-Semitic work; some believe that de Spina, a Franciscan priest, converted from Judaism.

chestfaceOur edition (Lyon: Guillaume Balsarin) is in a later binding (probably 19th century) and contains a single woodblock illustration  depicting a demon with horns on its head and a face in its chest, perhaps a cousin to the Blemmyes (Latin Blemmyae), who have faces in their chests and no heads at all. Our copy, formerly in the library of the Convent of St. Francis of Siguenza in Guadalajara, Spain, has unusual marginalia from a former owner or owners, including decorative marks and, on the final page, a sort of doodle of a fuzzy-haired, winged demon.




ADDENDUM: in September of 2013, Penn’s Peter Stallybrass¬† visited Special Collections and viewed our copy of the Fortalitum. He believes the doodle may depict an 18th-century gravestone similar to those in the photographs below. We concur!


medusa 1797 Sweetsers-medusa  1776 Lydia Bordwell