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James I; Daemonologie, in forme of a dialogue. Title page. Wellcome M0014280.jpg
Title page of a 1603 reprinting
Author James VI of Scotland
Country England
Language Middle English, Scots, Irish
Series 3 books and a news pamphlet in one volume.
Genre Occult, Religion, Philosophy, Dissertation, Socratic dialogue
Publication date
Media type Print
Preceded by Newes from Scotland (1591)

Daemonologie — in full Daemonologie, In Forme of a Dialogue, Divided into three Books: By the High and Mighty Prince, James &c. — was written and published in 1597 by King James VI of Scotland (later also James I of England) as a philosophical dissertation on contemporary necromancy and the historical relationships between the various methods of divination used from ancient Black magic. This included a study on demonology and the methods demons used to trouble men while touching on topics such as werewolves and vampires. It was a political yet theological statement to educate a misinformed populace on the history, practices and implications of sorcery and the reasons for persecuting a witch in a Christian society under the rule of canonical law. This book is believed to be one of the primary sources used by William Shakespeare in the production of Macbeth. Shakespeare attributed many quotes and rituals found within the book directly to the Weird Sisters, yet also attributed the Scottish themes and settings referenced from the trials which King James was involved.

King James wrote a dissertation titled Daemonologie that was first sold in 1597, several years prior to the first publication of the King James Authorized Version of the Bible. Within three short books James wrote a philosophical dissertation in the form of a Socratic dialogue for the purpose of making arguments and comparisons between magic, sorcery and witchcraft, but wrote also his Classification of demons. In writing the book, King James was heavily influenced by his personal involvement in the North Berwick witch trials from 1590. Following the execution of a notorious sorcerer in the year 1591, the news of the trials was narrated in a news pamphlet titled Newes from Scotland and was included as the final chapter of the novel. The book endorses the practice of witch hunting in a Christian society. James begins the book:

  • The division of the various magical arts with a comparison between Necromancy and witchcraft
  • The use of charms, circles and conjurations
  • The division of Astrology
  • The Devil's contract with man
  • Comparisons between the miracles of God and the devil
  • The purpose of these practices
  • The difference between biblical proof and imagination or myth
  • The description Sorcery and its comparison with Witchcraft
  • The path of a sorcerer's apprenticeship
  • Curses and the roles of Satan
  • The appearance of devils; the times and forms which they appear
  • The division of witch actions
  • Methods of transportation and the illusions of Satan
  • Spectra: Used to describe spirits that trouble houses or solitary places
  • Obsession: Used to describe spirits that follow upon certain people to outwardly trouble them at various times of the day. Referencing Incubi and Succubae
  • Possession: Used to describe spirits that enter inwardly into a person to trouble them.
  • Faries:Used to describe illusionary spirits that prophesy, consort, and transport their servants.
  • King James. Daemonologie. A Critical Edition. In Modern English. 2016. ISBN . 


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