In France, the edict of Louis XIV., in 1682, directed only against pretended witches and prophets, proves distinctly that the belief in the reality of witchcraft had ceased, and that it was merely the pretended exercise of such powers which it was thought necessary to suppress. It is highly to the credit of Louis and his ministry, that this step was taken by him in opposition to a formal requête by the Parliament of Normandy, presented in the year 1670, on the occasion of his Majesty having commuted the punishment of death into banishment for life, in the case of a set of criminals whom the Parliament had condemned more ma-jorum for witchcraft*. In this apology for their belief, they reminded Louis of the inveterate practice of the kingdom; of the numerous arrets of the Parliament of Paris, from the trials in Artois in 1459, reported by Monstrelet, down to that of Léger in May 1616 ; of the judgments pronounced under the commission addressed by Henry the Great to the Sieur de l'Ancre, in 1609; of those pronounced by the Parliament of Toulouse, in 1577 ; of the celebrated case of Gaufridy, in 1611 ; of the arrêts of the Parliaments of Dijon and Rennes, following on the remarkable trial of the Marechal de lletz, in 1441, who was burnt for magic and sorcery in the presence of the Duke of Bretagne: and after combating the authority of a canon of the Council of Ancyra, and of a passage in St. Augustine, which had been quoted against them by their opponents, they sum up their pleading with the following placid and charitable supplication to his Majesty-" Qu'elle voudra bien souffrir V execution des arrets qu'ils out rendus, et leur permettre de continuer instruction et juge-ment des proces des personnes accuses de sortilege, et que la piete de Votre Majeste ne souf- ( frira pas que Yon introduise duraat son regne une nouvelle opinion contraire aux principes de la religion, pour laquelle Votre Majeste a toujours si glorieusement employe ses soins et ses armes." Notwithstanding this concluding compliment to his Majesty's zeal and piety, it is doubtful whether the Parliament of Normandy, in their anxiety for the support of their constitutional privileges, could have taken a more effectual plan to ruin then' own case, than by thus presenting Louis with a sort of anthology or elegant extracts from the atrocities of the witch trials; and in all probability the appearance of the edict of 1680 was accelerated by the very remonstrance by which the Norman sages had hoped to strangle it.
* The Abbé Fiard, one of the latest believers on record, has printed the Requête at full length in his c Lettres sur la Magie,' p. 117 et seq.