Loos, Cornelius

Cornelius Loos (1546–1593) A Catholic priest and scholar, Loos was a strong opponent of witch-hunting who ultimately suffered condemnation as a heretic for his beliefs. Born in Gouda in the Netherlands, Loos studied at Louvain and Liège and then taught at Mainz and Trier, which was a center of witch-hunting at the time. He grew increasingly concerned about the nature of the trials taking place and attempted to stop them, writing a treatise De vera et falsa magia (On True and False Magic).

He not only argued that excessive use of torture led to false confessions in witch trials, but also that Demons could not assume physical bodies to operate in the world. In particular, Loos criticized Peter Binsfeld, the suffragan bishop of Trier and a strong proponent of witch-hunting. He was imprisoned on the grounds that failure to accept the reality of witchcraft was a heresy, his writings were suppressed, and in 1593 he was forced to recant his beliefs. He was then banished to Brussels but refused to remain silent on matters of witchcraft and so was arrested and imprisoned as a relapsed heretic. He probably would have been executed had he not died of natural causes shortly thereafter.



Historical Dictionary of Witchcraft – Written by Michael D. Bailey