Gilles de Rais was a knight who fought alongside Joan of Arc to help fight against the English and win a battle for France. The two became good friends, and Gilles de Rais was rewarded for his work by being given the title of “Marshal of France”. However, Joan of Arc was kidnapped and brought to the English. They called her a witch, and burned her at the stake.
Gilles de Rais was so upset by the injustice, that some say he began to dabble in alchemy in order to find the key to eternal life. At this point, he was the richest man in France, and the Catholic Church wanted a piece of the pie. Instead of giving his money to the church, he decided to put on an elaborate play, unlike anything anyone had ever seen before. He paid local actors, costume designers, and set builders to reenact his glory days of battle.
The church officials were so appalled by how he was throwing good money down the drain, so they decided to accuse him of being a serial killer who practiced alchemy and worshiped Satan. He was put to death, and when he died, the Catholic Church took custody of all of his money, castles, and land.
Giuseppe Tartini was an Italian violinist and composer. In the 1700s, He composed a song called “The Devil’s Trill Sonata“. He claimed that he woke up one night to find Satan himself sitting at the edge of his bed, playing the violin. After this visit from the Devil, he was able to play complicated trills that are usually impossible for most violinists to achieve. Even today, many modern musicians are not talented enough to play “The Devil’s Trill Sonata”. Some people speculated that Tartini may have had 6 fingers on one hand, and that is how he could play those complicated notes.
As the legend goes, Doctor Johann Georg Faust was an alchemist and astrologer who lived in Germany during the early 1500s. He wanted to be the smartest man in the world, and enjoy as many earthly pleasures as he possibly could while he was still alive. He made a deal with a demon called Mephistopheles.
According to records, he sodomized some of his male students, and was generally abusive and mean towards everyone. As a professor, he looked down on everyone else, because he believed that he was far superior. Local priests believed that he was in cahoots with the devil and that his pet dog was actually a demon who could transform in and out of canine form and into a human man servant. It would seem that he truly did believe in magic, because during his lifetime, he published several grimoires, or spell books. In 1540, he was conducting an alchemic experiment, and his laboratory exploded.
Jonathan Moulton was the early colonial settler in the New World who would earn the nickname “Yankee Faust”. As a young man, he was a poor apprentice to a cabinet maker but ended up completely switching careers, which was uncommon at the time. He became a professional silversmith and making a lot of money trading to England from the colonies. He also served as the Bridigire General for New Hampshire, and lead a battle to victory in King George’s War.
One legend says that Jonathan Moulton was able to afford his silversmith business by making a deal with the Devil. Moulton sat down and drank shots of rum with the Devil, and tried to get him drunk. Moulton said he would sell his soul in exchange for filling up the boots with gold coins on the first day of each month. They shook hands, and went their separate ways. Moulton found the biggest pair of boots in the entire state, where the leather went all the way up to the thighs. On the first of the month, the Devil took notice of how huge these boots were, and he laughed it off. A deal is a deal, after all, and he never specified the size of the boots. He filled them with gold coins.
The next month, Moulton was thrilled that the boots were filled all the way to the brim, but he was greedy. He got the brilliant idea to cut the soles out of the bottom of the shoes, and cut holes under the boots that would go down to his basement. The next month, the boots did not fill until the entire basement was flooded with gold coins. When the Devil realized he had been tricked, he got so angry, he set Moulton’s house on fire. This story was passed down for generations, and eventually written down roughly 100 years later.
In reality, Jonathan Moulton would have earned a veteran’s pension after serving in King George’s War. He would have also made a lot of money selling silverware to rich English families. He became rich so quickly, his neighbors felt as though it happened overnight, and they wondered how Moulton could have possibly made so much money, unless he did a deal with the Devil. He would have also been the kind of person who would have been loyal to the crown even during the Revolutionary War. It’s no surprise that he was unpopular, and that someone set his house on fire, blaming the entire ordeal on the Devil.
In 1677, an artist named Christoph Haizmann from Bavaria was working at a castle in Austria. He was so talented at painting, that he had been invited to completed commissioned work from his noble patrons. When he began have seizures, everyone believed that these were physical symptoms of being possessed by the Devil. People assumed that he must have sold his soul in order to gain all of his talents.
Christoph Haizmann confessed that he did, in fact, make a deal with the Devil 9 years earlier, at the start of his art career. But now, he regretted it very much, and wanted an exorcism. They demanded to know if he was a practicing witch, but the local authorities decided that he was not, but that the Devil had a hold of him. The local Catholic priest felt sorry for him when he saw Haizmann’s sick and weakened physical state. He began performing exorcisms on him. During these exorcisms, Haizmann claims that he had a vision that he came face-to-face with the Devil, who was in the form of a dragon. He was holding the contract to his soul, and he ripped it out of its talons. When he woke up, he was cured. After this, Christoph Haizmann began to paint pictures of the Devil. He painted a story with multiple panels, telling the story of how he sold his soul, and how the Catholic Church helped him get it back.
Even if you don’t consider yourself a history buff, it almost goes without saying that the famous so-called witches of Salem, Massachusetts were accused of being in cahoots with the Devil. The citizens of Salem believed that the Devil gave those people supernatural powers and that they performed Satanic rituals in the woods. Of course, it was later discovered that the confession that started it all was a lie, and innocent people were killed.
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