A deal, a pact, or a compact with the devil all means one thing, that he has domain upon the soul of the person who struck the negotiations. The legend of Faust gives the best example of the trials and tribulations of making a deal with the devil. There is also much Christian folklore that suggests witchcraft dealings with the devil or involves a person pledging themselves to Satan or a lesser demon.
Although fables vary from story to story they all involve trading one’s soul for youth, power, money, and knowledge. Rumors about famed musicians making deals with the devil for their skills or fame have often been fodder for the jealous gossip lovers of the world, but who is to say that there isn’t any truth to it. Lore revolving around deals with Satan usually include a crossroads or signing a pact in blood.
The stories about dealings with the Devil date back centuries even to the religious clergy of ancient times. All of the stories involving making a pact with Satan end in death or sadness showing that this is not the best way to go. St. Theophilus of Adana even repented and fasted in the name of the Virgin Mary, gained forgiveness and was still held down by the dark one.
Let these 15 people be an example that if the devil ever comes calling, that you definitely don’t want to make that deal.
15. Niccolo Paganini
This Italian violinist, guitarist, and composer was the most celebrated virtuoso of his time leaving a marker as an absolute pillar of modern technique while playing the violin. He was born alongside five brothers and sisters to a father who was a failed trader but made his money playing mandolin. At age five the young man began playing his father’s mandolin and his talent was quickly noticed. He studied under many master violinists before he outpaced each and every one of their talents. Stories about his playing state that he could play 12 notes per second and that he flailed about on stage in wild, erratic dance moves. This combined with his immense instrumental talent many believed Paganini to have made a pact with the devil to receive his abilities. He was struck by syphilis and tuberculosis but lived to a ripe old age before eventually hemorrhaging internally and dying in 1840.
14. Anton LaVey
LaVey was the former high priest of the Church of Satan, a highly publicized cult from the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s that still exists today. The basis of his religion does describe Satan as not being real but instead calls for patrons of the church to live like Satan. In their translation Satan is much like Dionysus, it is a religion of losing inhibitions and indulging every fantasy. For this reason we think LaVey belongs on the list, because if Satan is in fact real he’s definitely on the guy’s nice list. The Church of Satan was formed in San Francisco, California on April 30, 1966 when LaVey ritualistically shaved his head. Though it was later demonstrated that he actually shaved his head to pay off a bet many followers still maintained a firm belief in the Church of Satan. The self proclaimed high priest held baptisms and funerals in the name of Satan before his death on October 29, 1997.
13. General Jonathan Moulton
Born in what is now New Hampshire, Moulton spent much of his childhood as an indentured servant to a cabinet maker until he won his freedom in 1745 and left the trade. The young man bobbed around working in silversmithing until being appointed ranger in the New Hampshire militia. He later helped to take the Fortress Louisbourg under William Pepperrell with the New England army. General Jonathan Moulton went on to continue fighting for the militia against Native Americans and others leaving behind wild stories of his adventures. Stories of Moulton’s relationship with the devil started in his poor Puritan hometown after he took a second, younger wife and built an ostentatious mansion amongst the meager abodes. His home spontaneously burst into flames and the townspeople were quick to claim that the devil had taken revenge on the General. The stories of his ‘deal with the devil’ run so deep that there are fairy tales about a fictional character based on Moulton who collects doubloons from the devil himself in his boots each night.
12. St. Theophilus of Adana
In this ancient legend archdeacon Theophilus of Adana, Cicilia was unanimously elected as bishop but turned the position down out of humility. The new bishop unjustly deprived Theophilus of his archdeacon position causing deep regret and thirst for revenge. Theophilus sought out a necromancer to help him open up communication with Satan. Satan required Theophilus to renounce Christ and the Virgin Mary before signing a contract in his own blood. When Theophilus compelled Satan gave him a position as bishop. Theophilus later prayed and repented to the Virgin in hopes of forgiveness. He then fasted for 40 days before the Virgin appeared before him to verbally chastise him. He begged Mary for forgiveness and promised to intercede with God, and after he fasted for 30 more days and Mary granted absolution. But Satan didn’t want to let go of him that easily and just three days after gaining forgiveness Theophilus woke up to find the contract he had signed on his own chest. He took the contract to the bishop and confessed before dying of relief to be free of the burden.
11. Urbain Grandier
After being convicted of witchcraft this French Catholic Priest was burnt at the stake. He served as a priest in the Sainte Croix in Loudun where he carried on with many women earning himself a reputation as a philanderer. He wrote an entire book attacking the discipline of clerical celibacy but soon happened upon scandal. In 1632 a gaggle of nuns from the local Ursaline convent accused Grandier of bewitching them and sicking a multitude of demons on them to commit evil, impudent acts. According to modern sceptics these claims were made by the Mother Superior of the convent who was rejected by the known philanderer. The claims were widely accepted since the priest had long pissed off those around him and was arrested. After being tortured immensely documents were presented that claim to show Grandier’s signature on a pact with the devil. He was sentenced to death almost immediately after.
10. Gilles de Rais
A leader in the French army and Companion-In-Arms with none other than Joan of Arc, Gilles de Rais was a well known knight. The young baron was raised by his maternal grandmother and increased his small fortune in his marriage. He eventually gained favor with the Lord of Brittany and was admitted to the French court. In 1948 de Rias apparently sent out priest Eustache Blanchet to seek anyone who knew anything about alchemy or demon summoning. As the story goes de Rais read some magical books and chose to start some demonic experiments. He attempted to summon a demon named Barron and he provided said demon with a contract for riches that he would pay to the demon at a later time. Gilles de Rais was so desperate for the demon to show up that he even provided the parts of a child to lure the demon out of the underworld. This shone a light on the real demon in the picture, Gilles de Rais, a child murderer.
9. Johan Georg Faust
Itinerant alchemist, astrologer, and magician of the German renaissance Johan Georg Faust is also known as John Faustus. A play is written about the life of this man, which makes it hard to understand the differences between the real and the fictional. What is known is that in the year 1506 Faust appeared as a performer of magical tricks and horoscopes in Gelnhausen which started a trend for about 30 years. Throughout Southern Germany Faust is shown to appear as a physician, alchemist, doctor of philosophy, magician, and astrologer. The church eventually denounced him and claimed he was in league with the devil and most of his interactions ended with him being called out as a fraud. He eventually died in an explosion caused by an alchemical experiment gone wrong, his body was found incredibly mutilated. Many believe that his body looked the way that it did because the devil was coming back to collect his debt over the charlatan.
8. Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa
Born near Cologne in 1486 to a family of middle nobility Agrippa was able to study at the University of Cologne from 1499 to 1502 and is often considered to be one of the world’s first feminists. The young man worked as a Spanish mercenary for some time before starting his academic career in 1509. Legend has it that Agrippa sold his soul to the devil, the rumor goes so deep that there is a poem entitled Raising the Devil: A Legend of Cornelius Agrippa. This man was the author of the most comprehensive and widely known books on magic and all occult arts. It wasn’t until after his death that rumors started to circle about him summoning demons. One of the most famous of these stories tells of him releasing his familiar, a black dog, on his deathbed. There is no evidence, however, of any of these happenings.
7. Jimmy Page
Jimmy Page is the English musician, songwriter, and famous guitar player for the rock and roll giant Led Zeppelin. Beginning as a session musician in the mid ‘60s he founded Led Zeppelin in 1968. He is always referred to as one of the greatest guitarists of all time which led many to wonder how he got there. Many rumors about the classic rock band claim that Page and lead singer Robert Plant worshiped the devil. This rumor was born from Page’s obsession with known occultist and necromancer Aleister Crowley. There was a separate rumor that the bandmates made a Faustian bargain in exchange for their monumental celebrity and stardom. Though there is no pure evidence that Page was a Satanist he definitely believed in Crowley’s philosophy of personal liberation: “Do What Thou Wilt”.
6. Giuseppe Tartini
This Venetian Baroque composer and violinist was born in Piran in the Republic of Venice. Because he was intended to be a Franciscan Friar, Tartini received musical training. He married and was run out of town because Cardinal Giorgio Cornaro preferred her, Tartini then took to a monastery where he began playing violin. As the legend has it Tartini locked himself away to practice after hearing Francesco Maria Veracini play violin. When he emerged his talent had improved immensely. In 1721 he was appointed Maestro di Capella at the Basilica di Sant’Antonio in Padua. Later, in 1726, the violinist started a school that attracted young talent from all over Europe. At one point in his career Tartini had a dream where he was visited by the devil and he decided to hand over his fiddle to see what he could do. Tartini later wrote “The Devil’s Sonata” which he claims holds just a small bit of beauty of the one which he dreamt.
5. Pope Sylvester II
Prolific speaker and author, Pope Sylvester II endorsed Arab and Greco-Roman arithmetic, mathematics, and astronomy. He is known for reintroducing the abacus and armillary sphere which had been lost since the Greco-Roman era. Legend has it that he stole a book of spells from a man in Spain and Pope Sylvester II was accused of sorcery after his studies ventured into astrology from mathematics. Some say that he had a pact with a female demon named Meridiana while others claim he won the papacy in a dice game with the devil himself. There is one story that says Meridiana told him that if he ever gave mass in Jerusalem he would die and eventually he read mass in a church named Santa Croce in Gerusalemme (Holy Cross of Jerusalem) in Rome. The story has it that he died soon after and one of his last wishes was that he be cut up into pieces and scattered all over the city.
4. Christoph Haizmann
Though he was a painter, Haizmann was most known for his demonic neurosis and his case has been studied in psychology and psychiatry since the early twentieth century. As an impoverished painter Haizmann’s story goes that he lost a parent and couldn’t take it anymore, so he made a deal with the devil. He claims to have written two pacts to the devil in 1668, one in ink and one in blood. The pact was supposed to give Haizmann free life for 9 years before his soul truly belonged to the devil. When his time came up Haizmann made a pilgrimage to Mariazell where the pact in blood was given back to him by the devil. In 1678 after demonic possession continued Haizmann unsuccessfully undertook another exorcism to try and retrieve the ink pact. One psychologist that took immense interest in the Haizmann case was Sigmund Freud.
3. Antoine Rose aka The Witch of Savoy
In 1477 Antoine Rose was being tortured when she confessed that she regularly met with the devil. She claimed that the devil’s name was Robinet and he spoke in a deep and raspy voice. She renounced God by kissing the feet of Robinet and gave her some ointment along with an 18’’ stick. He also put his mark on her, she claimed, on the little finger of her left hand. This interview is also the second ever to recommend that witches ride on brooms. The woman claimed that she used to rub the ointment between her legs and all over the stick before putting it there as well and saying “Go, in the name of the Devil, go!”. This is supposedly how the woman would fly on a broomstick, with ‘flying ointment’. Many believe that this ointment was a mixture of hallucinogenic herbs that would definitely be strong enough to make someone feel as if they were flying.
2. Robert Johnson
An originator of Delta Blues, Robert Johnson is a beloved musician in American history. Many of his songs speak of hellhounds, the devil, and the crossroads; suggesting that the singer songwriter has experience in deals with the devil. Before hitting it big Johnson was playing on street corner and in cheap juke joints. Although he did become more widely known Johnson gained little recognition in his time alive. The legend has it that when Johnson was a young boy working on a plantation in Mississippi Johnson dreamt of being a big blues musician. Someone instructed him to go to the crossroads with his guitar where he received mastery of the instrument from the devil himself. The legend has been told by many over time and some historians have even discovered that Johnson sure did practice in the graveyard at night. But this wasn’t because of his pact with Satan but moreso because the graveyard was quiet.
1. Oliver Cromwell
This English military and political leader was later named Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland. During his political career many believed that Cromwell was a monster who was only interested in power mongering. Cromwell was equally loved and loathed for his work as a revolutionary but the disrespect of his body after death was a wide show of disrespect. After the monarchy rose once again in 1660 Cromwell was dug up and his dead body was hung in a public ‘execution’. The story of Cromwell’s pact with the devil were mostly widespread during the rise of Charles again after Cromwell’s revolution dismantled the monarchy. He is one of the most controversial figures in the history of the British Isles. Some call the man genocidal, others refer to him as a dictator, and some think he is the best Briton of all-time; it all depends on who we ask.