Monday, October 29, 2012

Witch history takes flight in rare University of Alberta manuscript

It is a book of remarkable beauty — and unspeakable evil.It’s testament to timely artistry, and to the eternal dangers of hate and fear.

University of Alberta history professor Andrew Gow and his former PhD student, Rob Desjardins, hand me the manuscript, bound in brass-studded brown silk velvet, with care. No wonder: It may be the single most valuable volume in the university’s Peel Special Collections library. Gow and Desjardins theorize it belonged to Edward IV of England, who died in 1483.

Market price? “Incalculable,” says Gow.

What I hold is a 1465 manuscript, known as Invectives Against the Sect of Waldensians.

The Waldensians were medieval heretics who disavowed the power of priests and allowed women to preach.

But for the author of this book, Dominican inquisitor Johannes Tinctor, Waldensian was code — a synonym for witch.

Click here to read this article from the Edmonton Journal