Saducismus Triumphatus: or, Full and Plain Evidence Concerning Witches and Apparitions


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By Joseph Glanvill, Chaplain in Ordinary to King Charles II & F. R. S. London: Printed for A. Bettesworth and J. Batley, 1726. Fourth edition, 2 parts in 1 vol. 503 pages. Complete with engraved frontispiece and plate. Engraving by William Faithorne. Contemporary calf rebacked, small circular ink-stamp and number to spine from the Maynard and Outram Smith Library, boards worn to the extremities, text clean unmarked, plates vibrant, binding strong. A very good example.

Saducismus Triumphatus: or, Full and Plain Evidence Concerning Witches and Apparitions. In Two Parts. The First Treating of their Possibility. The Second Part Proving Partly by Holy Scripture, partly by a choice collection of modern Relations, and the Real Existence of Apparitions, Spirits and Witches. Also, Two Authentic, but wonderful stories of certain Swedish Witches. 

One of the most important English works on witchcraft and the supernatural, Saducismus Triumphatus was published posthumously in 1681. Most copies of the original 1666 edition, entitled Philosophical considerations touching Witches and Witchcraft, were thought to of perished in the great fire of London. Subsequent printings were issued under different titles and with additional material, edited by Henry More.

Glanvill sought to prove empirically the existence of supernatural phenomena. Providing accounts of witchcraft, demons, apparitions, and other phenomena of the invisible world, he set out to give evidence which would challenge a rising scepticism and secularisation in society. 

"Glanvill believed that devils were real and could intervene in the natural world... after his death he continued to be seen in England, New England, and Europe as one of the greatest champions of the belief in witches".

Raised a strict Puritan and educated at Oxford, he was one of the leading natural philosophers that thought disbelief in the existence of the spirit world would lead to a rejection of Christianity. He documented hundreds of supposed cases of Witchcraft and other paranormal cases around Britain and Ireland. He spent a night at a house in Tedworth to investigate the infamous case of poltergeist drumming, depicted in the illustration.
The text is also notable as an early documentation of the existence of Witch Bottles in Britain. Items of a protective magical potency, most commonly found in under fireplaces, under the floor or buried within the walls of a house.

There is also a section of the book on Swedish folklore of Witchcraft. Including accounts of the mythical island of Blockula, that can only be reached by 'magical flight'. Much of the material on witchcraft in Sweden, was supplied by Anthony Horneck (from a Dutch pamphlet, 1670).

The text can be seen as integral in the broader shift of late-seventeenth-century culture away from the post-Reformation scepticism towards supernatural experience. Whereas earlier Protestant theologians had insisted that angels no longer appeared on earth, Glanvill considered stories of extraordinary experiences to be a defence against growing ‘Atheisme and Infidelity’.  (Cirillo, G, 2012.) Therefore, Saducismus Triumphatus can be seen as fundamental in Glanvill's mission to challenge what he saw as a growing atheism. 

The book was first published 10 years before the events that led to the Salem Witch Trials. The text formed the basis of much of the arguments in Wonders of The Invisible, written by Cotton Mather published in 1693, used to legitimise persecution in the Salem Witch Trials. Particularly, the material relating to the Mora witch trial of 1669 Mather saw witches as "tools of the devil in Satan's battle", to "overturn this poor plantation, the Puritan colony", and prosecution of witches as a way to secure God's blessings for the colony. It was also a strong influence on another of Mather's books, Discourse on Witchcraft (1689).


The book is cited by H. P. Lovecraft in his short story The Festival. Shirley Jackson quoted passages from the book in her short story collection The Lottery and Other Stories. The title can also be read on the walls of a secret passageway in Dario Argento's 1977 film, Suspiria.

Georgia Cirillo, Saducismus Triumphatus image, 2022.