Devil or Genius?
Thanks to their extremely sophisticated mechanisms, the human automata caused a reaction which was astonishing to say the least!
After the automata had toured France and Geneva (where the residents wanted to reward the Jaquet Droz family by giving them honorary citizenship of the town, Pierre Jaquet Droz sold his figures in 1787 to agents who took them off to Spain. There, Charles IV was so obsessed that he offered a considerable sum for them. While negotiations were underway, some informants from the Holy Office (honest men and good Christians it would seem, although poor in spirit) made the commendable decision to expose the automata as each containing the devil!
The inquisition concluded that the figures would be interrogated to which one of them replied by drawing, another wrote, and the third player her small organ! “Let’s burn them along with their purchaser . . . unless you can prove to us they are not possessed by the devil!” said one of the spies.
After they were dismantled, the inquisitors realized that their perfection was the work of a genius and not the invention of the devil. They ordered that the automata be set free and their owner took them back to France.
And thus concludes our tale of Pierre Jaquet Droz and his close call with the devil! He has never been proved to be a man of witchcraft and this still remains to be a mysterious tale to this day.
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