The Malleus Maleficarum, usually translated as the Hammer of Witches,[a] is the best known and the most thorough treatise on witchcraft. It was written by the discredited Catholic clergyman Heinrich Kramer (under his Latinized name Henricus Institoris) and first published in the German city of Speyer in 1487. It endorses extermination of witches and for this purpose develops a detailed legal and theological theory. It was a bestseller, second only to the Bible in terms of sales for almost 200 years. It has been described as the compendium of literature in demonology of the fifteenth century. The top theologians of the Inquisition at the Faculty of Cologne condemned the book as recommending unethical and illegal procedures, as well as being inconsistent with Catholic doctrines of demonology.
The Malleus elevates sorcery to the criminal status of heresy and prescribes inquisitorial practices for secular courts in order to extirpate witches. The recommended procedures include torture to effectively obtain confessions and the death penalty as the only sure remedy against the evils of witchcraft. At that time, it was typical to burn heretics alive at the stake and the Malleus encouraged the same treatment of witches. The book had a strong influence on culture for several centuries.[b]
Jacob Sprenger's name was added as an author beginning in 1519, 33 years after the book's first publication and 24 years after Sprenger's death; but the veracity of this late addition has been questioned by many historians for various reasons.
Kramer wrote the Malleus following his expulsion from Innsbruck by the local bishop, due to charges of illegal behavior against Kramer himself, and because of Kramer's obsession with the sexual habits of one of the accused, Helena Scheuberin, which led the other tribunal members to suspend the trial.
It was later used by royal courts during the Renaissance, and contributed to the increasingly brutal prosecution of witchcraft during the 16th and 17th centuries.
|Hammer of Witches|
Title page of the seventh Cologne edition of the Malleus Maleficarum, 1520 (from the University of Sydney Library). The Latin title is "MALLEUS MALEFICARUM, Maleficas, & earum hæresim, ut phramea potentissima conterens." (generally translated into English as The Hammer of Witches which destroyeth Witches and their heresy as with a two-edged sword).
|Full title||Malleus Maleficarum|
|Also known as||Hammer of Witches|
|Author(s)||Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger|
|Date of issue||1487|
Witchcraft had long been forbidden by the Church, whose attitude on the subject was explained in the Canon Episcopi written in about AD 900. It stated that witchcraft and magic were just delusions and that those who believed in such things "had been seduced by the Devil in dreams and visions". However, in the same period supernatural intervention was accepted in the form of ordeals that were later also used during witch trials. Possessions by the Devil are considered real even in present times by some Christians and it is a part of doctrine that demons may be cast out by appropriate sacramental exorcisms.[c] In the Malleus, exorcism is, for example, one of the five ways to overcome the attacks of incubi. Prayer and transubstantiation are traditionally excluded by Christians from the category of magical rites.
In 1484 clergyman Heinrich Kramer made one of the first attempts at prosecuting alleged witches in the Tyrol region. It was not a success: he was expelled from the city of Innsbruck and dismissed by the local bishop as "senile and crazy". According to Diarmaid MacCulloch, writing the book was Kramer's act of self-justification and revenge. Ankarloo and Clark claim that Kramer's purpose in writing the book was to explain his own views on witchcraft, systematically refute arguments claiming that witchcraft did not exist, discredit those who expressed skepticism about its reality, claim that those who practised witchcraft were more often women than men, and to convince magistrates to use Kramer's recommended procedures for finding and convicting witches.
Some scholars have suggested that following the failed efforts in Tyrol, Kramer requested explicit authority from the Pope to prosecute witchcraft. Kramer received a papal bull Summis desiderantes affectibus in 1484. It allegedly gave full papal approval for the Inquisition to prosecute what was deemed to be witchcraft in general and also gave individual authorizations to Kramer and Dominican Friar Jacob Sprenger specifically. Other scholars have disputed the idea that Sprenger was working with Kramer, arguing that the evidence shows that Sprenger was actually a persistent opponent of Kramer, even going so far as to ban him from Dominican convents within Sprenger's jurisdiction while also banning him from preaching. In the words of Wolfgang Behringer:
Sprenger had tried to suppress Kramer's activities in every possible way. He forbade the convents of his province to host him, he forbade Kramer to preach, and even tried to interfere directly in the affairs of Kramer's Séléstat convent... The same day Sprenger became successor to Jacob Strubach as provincial superior (October 19, 1487), he obtained permission from his general, Joaquino Turriani, to lash out adversus m[agistrum] Henricum Institoris inquisitorem (English: against Master Heinrich Kramer, inquisitor).
The preface also includes an alleged unanimous approbation from the University of Cologne's Faculty of Theology. Nevertheless, many historians have argued that it is well established by sources outside the Malleus that the university's theology faculty condemned the book for unethical procedures and for contradicting Catholic theology on a number of important points: "just for good measure Institoris forged a document granting their apparently unanimous approbation." 
The book became the handbook for secular courts throughout Renaissance Europe, but was not used by the Inquisition, which "denied any authority to the Malleus" in the words of historian Wolfgang Behringer.
In modern times, the book has often been viewed as a typical inquisitorial manual, a perception that many historians have refuted. According to historian Jenny Gibbons:
in the 1970s, when feminist and Neo-Pagan authors turned their attention to the witch trials, the Malleus Maleficarum (Hammer of Witches) was the only manual readily available in translation. Authors naively assumed that the book painted an accurate picture of how the Inquisition tried witches. Heinrich Kramer, the text's demented author, was held up as a typical inquisitor. His rather stunning sexual preoccupations were presented as the Church's "official" position on witchcraft. Actually the Inquisition immediately rejected the legal procedures Kramer recommended and censured the inquisitor himself just a few years after the Malleus was published. Secular courts, not inquisitorial ones, resorted to the Malleus.
Before 1400 it was rare for anyone to be persecuted for witchcraft, but the increasingly common persecution of heresy and failure to fully defeat those heretics paved the way for later criminal prosecution of witchcraft. By the 15th century belief in witches was widely accepted in European society. Previously, those convicted of witchcraft typically suffered penalties no more harsh than public penances such as a day in the stocks, but their persecution became more brutal following the publication of the Malleus Maleficarum, as witchcraft became widely accepted as a real and dangerous phenomenon. The most vigorous persecutions took place between years 1560 and 1630, ending in Europe around 1780.
Particularly in the 16th and 17th centuries an intense debate on the nature of witches preoccupied demonologists across Europe and they published many printed sermons, books and tracts. The Catholic Church played an important role in shaping of debate on demonology, but the discourse was not much affected by the Reformation. Martin Luther was also convinced about the reality and evil of witches, and facilitated development of Protestant demonology. Catholic and Protestant demonologies were similar in their basic beliefs about witches  and most writers agreed on the severity of the crime of witchcraft.[d] It was accepted by both Catholic and Protestant legislatures and witch-hunting was undeniably sponsored by both Protestant and Catholic governments.[e][f] Witches became heretics to Christianity and witchcraft became the greatest of crimes and sins. Within continental and Roman Law witchcraft was the crimen exceptum, a crime so foul that all normal legal procedures were superseded.
During the Age of Enlightenment, belief in the powers of witches to harm began to die out in the West. For the post-Enlightenment Christians, the disbelief was based on a belief in rationalism and empiricism.
The Malleus Maleficarum consists of the following parts:
In this part it is briefly explained that prevalence of sorcery which is a method of Satan's final assault motivated authors to write the Malleus Maleficarum:
[...] [ Lucifer ] attacks through these heresies at that time in particular, when the evening of the world declines towards its setting and the evil of men swells up, since he knows in great anger, as John bears witness in the Book of Apocalypse [12:12], that he has little time remaining. Hence, he has also caused a certain unusual heretical perversity to grow up in the land of the Lord – a Heresy, I say, of Sorceresses, since it is to be designated by the particular gender over which he is known to have power. [...] In the midst of these evils, we Inquisitors, Jacobus Sprenger together with the very dear associate [Institoris] delegated by the Apostolic See for the extermination of so destructive a heresy [...] we will bring everything to the desired conclusion. [...] naming the treatise the "Hammer for Sorceresses," we are undertaking the task of compiling the work for an associate [presumably, an ecclesiastic] [...]
Copies of the Malleus Maleficarum contain a reproduction of a papal bull known as Summis desiderantes affectibus that is addressed to Heinrich Institoris and Jakob Sprenger. According to it, Pope Innocent VIII acknowledges that sorceresses are real and harmful through their involvement in the acts of Satan. As Mackay writes "It is then noted that Institoris's and Sprenger's efforts to stamp these activities out had met with opposition in the form of technical objections relating to the specific offenses that were covered by their appointment as inquisitors, which the pope then overrides by reiterating and amplifying the terms of the inquisitors' appointment."
According to the date on the document, the papal bull had been issued in 1484, two years before the Malleus Maleficarum was finished. Therefore, it is not an endorsement of a specific final text of the Malleus. Instead, its inclusion implicitly legitimizes the handbook by providing general confirmation of the reality of witchcraft and full authority to Sprenger and Institoris in their preachings and proceedings:
And they shall also have full and entire liberty to propound and preach to the faithful Word of God, as often as it shall seem to them fitting and proper, in each and all of the parosh churches in the said provinces, and to do all things necessary and suitable under the aforesaid circumstances, and likewise freely and fully to carry them out.— Summis desiderantes affectibus
This part of the Malleus is titled "The Approbation of The Following Treatise and The Signatures Thereunto of The Doctors of The Illustrious University of Cologne Follows in The Form of A Public Document" and contains unanimous approval of the Malleus Maleficarum by all the Doctors of the Theological Faculty of the University of Cologne signed by them personally. The proceedings are attested by notary public Arnold Kolich of Euskirchen, a sworn cleric of Cologne with inclusion of confirmatory testimony by present witnesses Johannes Vorda of Mecheln a sworn beadle, Nicholas Cuper de Venrath the sworn notary of Curia of Cologne and Christian Wintzen of Euskirchen a cleric of the Diocese of Cologne.
Text of approbation mentions that during proceedings Institoris had a letter from Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor which is summarized in the approbation: "[... Maximilian I] takes these Inquisitors under his complete protection, ordering and commanding each and every subject of the Roman Empire to render all favor and assistance to these Inquisitors and otherwise to act in the manner that is more fully contained and included in the letter."
It begins with a general statement about circumstances:
IN THE NAME OF Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. Let all those who will read, see or hear the present public document know that in the year since the Birth of Our Lord 1487, in the fifth indiction, on Saturday, the nineteenth day of May, at five in the afternoon or thereabouts, in the third year of the Pontificate of Our Lord, the Most Holy Father in Christ, Lord Innocent VIII, by Divine Providence Pope, in the presence of my notary public and of the witnesses written below who had been specifically summoned and asked for this purpose, the venerable and religious Brother Henricus Institoris, Professor of Holy Theology and member of the Order of Preachers, who was appointed as Inquisitor into Heretical Depravity by the Holy See along with his colleague, the venerable and religious Brother Jacobus Sprenger, also a Professor of Holy Theology and Prior of the Convent of Preachers in Cologne[...]
Then, signatories complain that "Some curates of souls and preachers of the Word of God feel no shame at claiming and affirming in their sermons to the congregation that sorceresses do not exist" and notice that the intention of the authors of the Malleus Maleficarum is not primarily to alleviate this ignorance but rather "toil to exterminate the sorceresses by explaining the appropriate methods of sentencing and punishing them in accordance with the text of the aforementioned Bull and the regulations of the Holy Canons, thereby achieving their extermination"; finally, signatories explain why they are providing their expertise:
It is consonant with reason that those things that are done on behalf of the common good should also be confirmed through the common approval of the Doctors, and therefore, lest the aforementioned poorly educated curates and preachers think, in their ignorance of Holy Scripture, that the aforesaid treatise, which was composed in the manner mentioned above, is poorly supported by the determinations and pronouncements of the Doctors, they offered it for examination and comparison against Scripture to the illustrious University of Cologne or rather to certain Professors of Holy Theology, in order that if any things were found to be worthy of censure or incompatible with the Catholic Truth, they should be refuted by the judgment of those Professors, and that those things found to be compatible with the Catholic Truth should be approved. This was in fact done in the ways written below.
There are two signings, sometimes also referenced as two approbations. The difference is that four signatories of the first part testify that they have examined the treatises and endorse its text while in the second signing signatories do not assert that they have read the treatises but nonetheless express approval by explicitly restating some general propositions of the treatises and endorsing them instead.
In the first part, the opinion of a "temporary Dean of the Faculty of Holy Theology at Cologne" namely Lambertus de Monte of 's-Heerenberg[g] is expressed and then professors Jacobus Straelen of Noetlinck, Andreas Schermer of Ochsenfurt and Thomas Lyel of Scotland testify that they agree with his opinion. The following is an excerpt from the opinion:
[I proclaim] that this three part treatise, which has been examined by me and carefully compared against Scripture with regard to its first two parts, contains nothing, in my humble judgment at least, that is contrary to the pronouncements of the non-erroneous philosophers, or against the Truth of the Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Faith, or against the determinations of the Doctors approved or admitted by the Holy Church, and that the third part should certainly be upheld and approved in regard to the punishments of those heretics whom it treats, in that it does not contradict Holy Canons, and also because of the personal experiences described in this treatise, which are believed to be true because of the reputation of such great men, particularly since they are inquisitors. It should be ensured that this treatise will become known to learned and zealous men, who will then, on the basis of it, provide various healthy and appropriate advice for the extermination of sorceresses [...]
The second part is signed by those from the first signing and in addition by professors Ulrich Kridweiss of Esslingen, Konrad Vorn of Kampen, Cornelius Pays of Breda and Dietrich of Balveren (Bummel). Signatories attest that:
1) The Masters of Holy Theology written below commend the Inquisitors into Heretical Depravity appointed by the authority of the Apostolic See in conformity with the Canons, and urge that they think it right to carry out their office zealously.
2) The proposition that acts of sorcery can happen with God's permission through sorcerers or sorceresses when the Devil works with them is not contrary to the Catholic Faith, but consonant with the statements of Holy Scripture. Indeed, according to the pronouncements of the Holy Doctors it is necessary to admit that such acts can sometimes happen.
3) It is therefore erroneous to preach that acts of sorcery cannot happen, because in this way preachers impede, to the extent that they can, the pious work of the inquisitors, to the prejudice of the salvation of souls. Nonetheless, secrets that are heard at any time by inquisitors should not be revealed to everyone.
4) All princes and Catholics should be urged to think it right to assist such pious vows on the part of the Inquisitors in defense of the Holy Catholic Faith.
The Malleus Maleficarum asserts that three elements are necessary for witchcraft: the evil intentions of the witch, the help of the Devil, and the permission of God. The treatise is divided into three sections. The first section is aimed at clergy and tries to refute critics who deny the reality of witchcraft, thereby hindering its prosecution. The second lays the foundation for the next section by describing the actual forms of witchcraft and its remedies. The third section is to assist judges confronting and combating witchcraft, and to aid the inquisitors by removing the burden from them. However, each of these three sections has the prevailing themes of what is witchcraft and who is a witch.
Section I examines the concept of witchcraft theoretically, from the point of view of natural philosophy and theology. Specifically it addresses the question of whether witchcraft is a real phenomenon or imaginary, perhaps "deluding phantasms of the devil, or simply the fantasies of overwrought human minds". The conclusion drawn is that witchcraft must be real because the Devil is real. Witches entered into a pact with Satan to allow them the power to perform harmful magical acts, thus establishing an essential link between witches and the Devil.
Matters of practice and actual cases are discussed, and the powers of witches and their recruitment strategies. It states that it is mostly witches, as opposed to the Devil, who do the recruiting, by making something go wrong in the life of a respectable matron that makes her consult the knowledge of a witch, or by introducing young maidens to tempting young devils. It details how witches cast spells, and remedies that can be taken to prevent witchcraft, or help those who have been affected by it.
Section III is the legal part of the Malleus Maleficarum that describes how to prosecute a witch. The arguments are clearly laid for the lay magistrates prosecuting witches. The section offers a step-by-step guide to the conduct of a witch trial, from the method of initiating the process and assembling accusations, to the interrogation (including torture) of witnesses, and the formal charging of the accused. Women who did not cry during their trial were automatically believed to be witches.
Jakob Sprenger was an appointed inquisitor for the Rhineland, theology professor and a dean at the University of Cologne in Germany.  Heinrich Kraemer (Institoris) was an appointed inquisitor of south Germany, a professor of theology at the University of Salzburg, the leading demonologist and witch-hunter in late medieval Germany. Pope Innocent VIII in Papal Bull Summis desiderantes affectibus refers to them both as "beloved sons" and "professors of theology"; also authorizes them to extirpate witchcraft.
The Malleus Maleficarum was intended to implement Exodus 22:18: "You shall not permit a sorceress to live." and explicitly argues that Canon Episcopi does not apply to the new, formerly unknown heresy of "modern witchcraft".
Kramer and Sprenger were the first to raise harmful sorcery to the criminal status of heresy. [...] If harmful sorcery is a crime on the order of heresy, Kramer and Sprenger argue, then the secular judges who prosecute it must do so with the same vigor as would the Inquisition in prosecuting a heretic. The Malleus urges them to adopt torture, leading questions, the admission of denunciation as valid evidence, and other Inquisitorial practices to achieve swift results. Moreover, the authors insist that the death penalty for convicted witches is the only sure remedy against witchcraft. They maintain that the lesser penalty of banishment prescribed by Canon Episcopi for those convicted of harmful sorcery does not apply to the new breed of witches, whose unprecedented evil justifies capital punishment.
The treatise often makes references to the Bible and Aristotelian thought, and it is heavily influenced by the philosophical tenets of Neoplatonism. The first section of the book's main text is written using the scholastic methodology of Thomas Aquinas characterized by a mode of disputed questions most notably used in his Summa Theologica. It was a standard mode of argumentation in scholastic discourse with a long tradition. Most of the citations in the Malleus come from multiple works of Aquinas, a highly influential author in theology. Aquinas is a main source for Section I but is cited in all sections; Formicarius by Johannes Nider is the important source for Section II, and Directorium Inquisitorum by Spanish inquisitor Nicholas Eymeric is a crucial source for Section III.
The ancient subjects of astronomy, philosophy, and medicine were being reintroduced to the West at this time, as well as a plethora of ancient texts being rediscovered and studied. The Malleus also mentions astrology and astronomy, which had recently been reintroduced to the West through the ancient works of Pythagoras. The Malleus is also heavily influenced by the subjects of divination, astrology, and healing rituals the Church inherited from antiquity.
The Malleus recommended not only torture but also deception in order to obtain confessions: "And when the implements of torture have been prepared, the judge, both in person and through other good men zealous in the faith, tries to persuade the prisoner to confess the truth freely; but, if he will not confess, he bid attendants make the prisoner fast to the strappado or some other implement of torture. The attendants obey forthwith, yet with feigned agitation. Then, at the prayer of some of those present, the prisoner is loosed again and is taken aside and once more persuaded to confess, being led to believe that he will in that case not be put to death." 
All confessions acquired with the use of torture had to be confirmed: "And note that, if he confesses under the torture, he must afterward be conducted to another place, that he may confirm it and certify that it was not due alone to the force of the torture." 
However if there was no confirmation, torture could not be repeated, but it was allowed to continue at a specified day: "But, if the prisoner will not confess the truth satisfactorily, other sorts of tortures must be placed before him, with the statement that unless he will confess the truth, he must endure these also. But, if not even thus he can be brought into terror and to the truth, then the next day or the next but one is to be set for a continuation of the tortures – not a repetition, for it must not be repeated unless new evidences produced. The judge must then address to the prisoners the following sentence: We, the judge, etc., do assign to you, such and such a day for the continuation of the tortures, that from your own mouth the truth may be heard, and that the whole may be recorded by the notary."
The treatise describes how women and men become inclined to practice witchcraft. The text argues that women are more susceptible to demonic temptations through the manifold weaknesses of their gender. It was believed that they were weaker in faith and more carnal than men. Michael Bailey claims that most of the women accused as witches had strong personalities and were known to defy convention by overstepping the lines of proper female decorum. After the publication of the Malleus, it seems as though about three quarters of those individuals prosecuted as witches were women.
Witches were usually female. The reasons for this is the suggestion that women are "prone to believing and because the demon basically seeks to corrupt the faith, he assails them in particular." They also have a "temperament towards flux" and "loose tongues". They "are defective in all the powers of both soul and body" and are stated to be more lustful than men. The major reason is that at the foundation of sorcery is denial of faith and "woman, therefore, is evil as a result of nature because she doubts more quickly in the faith." Men could be witches, but were considered rarer, and the reasons were also different. The most common form of male witch mentioned in the book is the sorcerer-archer. The book is rather unclear, but the impetus behind male witches seems to come more from desire for power than from disbelief or lust, as it claims is the case for female witches.
Indeed, the very title of the Malleus Maleficarum is feminine, alluding to the idea that it was women who were the villains. Otherwise, it would be the Malleus Maleficorum (the masculine form of the Latin noun maleficus or malefica, 'witch'). In Latin, the feminine maleficarum would only be used for women, while the masculine maleficorum could be used for men alone or for both sexes if together. The Malleus Maleficarum accuses male and female witches of infanticide, cannibalism and casting evil spells to harm their enemies as well as having the power to steal a man's penis. It goes on to give accounts of witches committing these crimes.
Arguments favoring discrimination against women are explicit in the handbook. Those arguments are not novel but constitute a selection from the long tradition of Western misogynist writings. However, according to Brauner, they are combined to produce new meanings and result in a comprehensive theory. It mixes elements borrowed from Formicarius (1435), Preceptorium divinae legis (1475) and Lectiones super ecclesiastes (1380).
Kramer and Sprenger develop a powerful gender-specific theory of witchcraft based on a hierarchical and dualistic view of the world. Everything exists in pairs of opposites: God and Satan, Mary and Eve, and men (or virgins) and women. Each positive principle in a pair is delineated by its negative pole. Perfection is defined not as the integration or preservation of opposites, but rather as the extermination of the negative element in a polar pair. Because women are the negative counterpart to men, they corrupt male perfection through witchcraft and must be destroyed.
Although authors give many examples of male witchery in the second part of the handbook, those witchcraft trials that are independently confirmed and that were led by Kramer himself are related to persecution of women almost exclusively. They took place in Ravensburg near Constance (1484) and Innsbruck (since 1485). According to Brauner, trial records confirm that Kramer believed that women are by nature corrupt and evil. His position was in harmony with the scholastic theory at the time. In contrast, Sprenger never conducted a witch trial though he was consulted in a few cases. Kramer and Sprenger use a metaphor of a world turned upside down by women of which concubines are the most wicked, followed by midwives and then by wives who dominate their husbands. Authors warn of imminent arrival of the apocalypse foretold in the Bible and that men risk bewitchment that leads to impotence and sensation of castration. Brauner explains authors' prescription on how a woman can avoid becoming a witch:
According to the Malleus, the only way a woman can avoid succumbing to her passions – and becoming a witch – is to embrace a life of devout chastity in a religious retreat. But the monastic life is reserved to the spiritually gifted few. Therefore, most women are doomed to become witches, who cannot be redeemed; and the only recourse open to the authorities is to ferret out and exterminate all witches.
Strixology in the Malleus Maleficarum is characterized by a very specific conception of what a witch is, one that differs dramatically from earlier times. The word used, malefica, carries an explicit condemnation absent in other words referring to women with supernatural powers. The conception of witches and of magic by extension is one of evil. It differs from earlier conceptions of witchcraft that were much more generalized. This is the point in history where "witchcraft constituted an independent antireligion". The witch lost her powerful position vis-a-vis the deities; the ability to force the deities comply with her wishes was replaced by a total subordination to the devil. In short, "[t]he witch became Satan's puppet." This conception of witches was "part of a conception of magic that is termed by scholars as 'Satanism' or 'diabolism'". In this conception, a witch was a member of "a malevolent society presided over by Satan himself and dedicated to the infliction of malevolent acts of sorcery (maleficia) on others."
According to Mackay, this concept of sorcery is characterized by the conviction that those guilty engage in six activities:
- A pact entered into with the Devil (and concomitant apostasy from Christianity),
- Sexual relations with the Devil,
- Aerial flight for the purpose of attending;
- An assembly presided over by Satan himself (at which initiates entered into the pact, and incest and promiscuous sex were engaged in by the attendees),
- The practice of maleficent magic,
- The slaughter of babies.
In the Malleus demons are the ones who tempt humans to sorcery and are the main figures in the witches' vows. They interact with witches, usually sexually. The book claims that it is normal for all witches "to perform filthy carnal acts with demons." This is a major part of human-demon interaction and demons do it "not for the sake of pleasure, but for the sake of corrupting." It is worth noting that not all demons do such things. The book claims that "the nobility of their nature causes certain demons to balk at committing certain actions and filthy deeds." Though the work never gives a list of names or types of demons, like some demonological texts or spellbooks of the era, such as the Liber Juratus, it does indicate different types of demons. For example, it devotes large sections to incubi and succubi and questions regarding their roles in pregnancies, the submission of witches to incubi, and protections against them.
Joseph Hansen, a historian who was appalled by the witch-craze and those who carried it out, proposed that coauthorship by Sprenger was a falsehood presented by Institoris (Kramer) and that approbation is partially a forgery. This had never been proposed before until Joseph Hansen in the nineteenth century.
Christopher Mackay, author of the modern academic translation of the Malleus into English offers rebuttals to arguments of proponents of this theory and in an interview gives an accessible summary:
The argument was made in the nineteenth century by a scholar hostile to what the Malleus stood for that the approbation was a forgery by Institoris and that Sprenger had nothing to do with the composition. The evidence for this is in my view very tenuous (and the main argument is clearly invalid). Nonetheless, once the argument was put forward, it took on a life of its own, and people continue to advance arguments in favor of the idea that Sprenger's involvement was a falsification perpetrated by Institoris, despite the fact that this argument was vitiated from the start.
In addition, Mackay points out that allegations raised in support of this theory that supposedly two of the signatories had not in fact signed the approbation are unsubstantiated.
A similar response is offered by the author of the first translation of the Malleus into English Montague Summers. In his introduction, he ignores completely the theory that joint authorship or approbation could be a mystification. Nonetheless, he mentions briefly that it was questioned whether Kramer or Sprenger contributed more to the work. He comments that "in the case of such a close collaboration any such inquiry seems singularly superfluous and nugatory".[h]
Broedel, a historian who writes that it is likely that Sprenger's contribution was minimal, nonetheless says that "Sprenger certainly wrote the Apologia auctoris which prefaces the Malleus and agreed to be a coauthor.
Wolfgang Behringer argues that Sprenger's name was only added as an author beginning in 1519, thirty-three years after the book was first published and decades after Sprenger's own death. One of Sprenger's friends who was still alive denounced the addition of Sprenger's name as a forgery, stating that Sprenger had nothing to do with the book. Many historians have also pointed out that Sprenger's actual views in his confirmed writings are often the opposite of the views in the Malleus, and Sprenger was unlikely to have been a colleague of Kramer since Sprenger in fact banned Kramer from preaching and entering Dominican convents within his jurisdiction, and spoke out against him on many occasions.
The alleged approval from the theologians at Cologne, which Kramer included in the Malleus with a list of names of theologians who he claimed approved the book, has also been questioned by many historians, since in 1490 the clergy at Cologne condemned the book and at least two of the clergy listed by Kramer, Thomas de Scotia and Johann von Wörde, publicly denied having approved the Malleus.
Jenny Gibbons, a Neo-Pagan and a historian, writes: "Actually the Inquisition immediately rejected the legal procedures Kramer recommended and censured the inquisitor himself just a few years after the Malleus was published. Secular courts, not inquisitorial ones, resorted to the Malleus".
The preface also includes an allegedly unanimous approbation from the University of Cologne's Faculty of Theology. Nevertheless, many historians have argued that it is well established by sources outside the Malleus that the university's theology faculty condemned the book for unethical procedures and for contradicting Catholic theology on a number of important points : "just for good measure Institoris forged a document granting their apparently unanimous approbation."
In 1484 Heinrich Kramer had made one of the first attempts at prosecuting alleged witches in the Tyrol region. It was not a success and he was asked to leave the city of Innsbruck. According to Diarmaid MacCulloch, writing the book was Kramer's act of self-justification and revenge. Ankarloo and Clark claim that Kramer's purpose in writing the book was to explain his own views on witchcraft, systematically refute arguments claiming that witchcraft does not exist, discredit those who expressed skepticism about its reality, claim that those who practiced witchcraft were more often women than men, and to convince magistrates to use Kramer's recommended procedures for finding and convicting witches.
Kramer wrote the Malleus following his expulsion from Innsbruck by the local bishop, due to charges of illegal behavior against Kramer himself, and because of Kramer's obsession with the sexual habits of one of the accused, Helena Scheuberin, which led the other tribunal members to suspend the trial.
Kramer received a papal bull, Summis desiderantes affectibus, in 1484. It directed Bishop of Strasburg (then Albert of Palatinate-Mosbach) to accept the authority of Heinrich Kramer as an Inquisitor, although the motivation of the papal bull was likely political. The Malleus Maleficarum was finished in 1486 and the papal bull was included as part of its preface, implying papal approval for the work. However, the Malleus Maleficarum received an official condemnation by the Church three years later, and Kramer's claims of approval are seen by modern scholars as misleading.[i]
Kramer was intensely writing and preaching until his death in Bohemia in 1505. He was asked by Nuremberg council to provide expert consultation on the procedure of witch trial in 1491. His prestige was not fading. In 1495 he was summoned by the Master General of the Order, Joaquin de Torres, O.P. to Venice and gave very popular public lectures and disputations. They were worthy of presence and patronage of Patriarch of Venice. He also wrote treatises Several Discourses and Various Sermons upon the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist (Nuremberg, 1496); A Tract Confuting the Errors of Master Antonio degli Roselli (Venice, 1499); followed by The Shield of Defence of the Holy Roman Church Against the Picards and Waldenses which were quoted by many authors. He was appointed as papal nuncio and his assignment as inquisitor was changed to Bohemia and Moravia by Pope Alexander VI in 1500.
Sprenger continued his work as Inquisitor Extraordinary for the Provinces of Mainz, Trèves and Cologne. Later, he was elected Provincial Superior of the whole German Province (in 1488). He had enormous responsibilities. He received a letter from Pope Alexander VI praising his enthusiasm and energy in 1495.
Gender-specific theory developed in the Malleus Maleficarum laid the foundations for widespread consensus in early modern Germany on the evil nature of women as witches. Later works on witchcraft have not agreed entirely with the Malleus but none of them challenged the view that women were more inclined to be witches than men. It was perceived as intuitive and all-accepted so that very few authors saw the need to explain why women are witches. Those who did, attributed female witchery to the weakness of body and mind (the old medieval explanation) and a few to female sexuality.
Some authors argue that the book's publication was not as influential as earlier authors believed. According to MacCulloch, the Malleus Maleficarum was one of several key factors contributing to the witch craze, along with popular superstition, and tensions created by the Reformation. However, according to Encyclopædia Britannica:
The Malleus went through 28 editions between 1486 and 1600 and was accepted by Roman Catholics and Protestants alike as an authoritative source of information concerning Satanism and as a guide to Christian defense [against acts of Satan].
Between 1487 and 1520, twenty editions of the Malleus Maleficarum were published, and another sixteen between 1574 and 1669. The Malleus Maleficarum was able to spread throughout Europe rapidly in the late 15th and at the beginning of the 16th century due to the innovation of the printing press in the middle of the 15th century by Johannes Gutenberg. The invention of printing some thirty years before the first publication of the Malleus Maleficarum instigated the fervor of witch hunting, and, in the words of Russell, "the swift propagation of the witch hysteria by the press was the first evidence that Gutenberg had not liberated man from original sin."
The late 15th century was also a period of religious turmoil. The Malleus Maleficarum and the witch craze that ensued took advantage of the increasing intolerance of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation in Europe, where the Protestant and Catholic camps respectively, pitted against one another, each zealously strove to maintain what they each deemed to be the purity of faith. The Catholic Counter-Reformation would eventually even out this religious turmoil, but until then both the Catholics and Protestants constantly battled for what they believed was right.
The Latin book was firstly translated by J. W. R. Schmidt into German in 1906; an expanded edition of three volumes was published in 1923. Montague Summers was responsible for the first English translation in 1928.
|2009||English||The Hammer of Witches: A Complete Translation of the Malleus Maleficarum, trans. by Christopher S. Mackay (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009)|
|2007||English||The Malleus Maleficarum, ed. and trans. by P.G. Maxwell-Stuart (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2007) (partial translation, this work excludes or summarizes crucial sections)|
|2006||English||Henricus Institoris and Jacobus Sprenger, Malleus Maleficarum, ed. and trans. by Christopher S. Mackay, 2 vols (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006) (edition in vol. 1 and translation in vol. 2)|
|2000||German||Der Hexenhammer: Malleus Maleficarum, trans. by Günter Jerouschek, Wolfgang Behringer, Werner Tschacher|
|1928[j]||English||Malleus Maleficarum - The Witch Hammer, J. Sprenger, H. Kramer, trans. by Montague Summers|
|1923[k]||German||Der Hexenhammer von Jakob Sprenger und Heinrich Institoris, trans. by Johann Wilhelm Richard Schmidt (available online 1923 edition)|
<ref>tag; name "Behringer, Wolfgang p. 2" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
<ref>tag; name "Klose, Hans-Christian pp. 197" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
In late European mythology and literature, a cambion is the offspring of an incubus, succubus, or other demon with a human, or of an incubus and succubus.Christian demonology
Christian demonology is the study of demons from a Christian point of view. It is primarily based on the Bible (Old and New Testaments), the exegesis of these scriptures, the scriptures of early Christian philosophers, hermits and the associated traditions and legends incorporated from other beliefs.Daemonolatreiae libri tres
Daemonolatreiae libri tres is a 1595 work by Nicholas Rémy. It was edited by Montague Summers and translated as Demonolatry in 1929.
Along with the Malleus Maleficarum, it is generally considered one of the most important early works on demons and witches. The book was drawn from the capital trials of roughly 900 persons who were tried and put to death in a fifteen year span in the Duchy of Lorraine for the crime of witchcraft."
The Daemonolatreiae contains citations from a great many authors, ancient and modern, including Johann Weyer, who is cited as an authority as if there were no differences between his position and that of Rémy. More importantly, however, the book is also based on cases from the archives, but Rémy seems never to have returned the cases that he used, so it is impossible to check his account of any particular case against the original records.David Thiérrée
David Thiérrée is a French artist born in 1970 in La Rochelle (France). Self-taught, he is contributing since 1989 - 1990 to create images and logos for several Metal bands. For his own band, then for other bands, labels and fanzines worldwide, like Behemoth, Mutiilation, Vlad Tepes, Osculum Infame, The Ancients Rebirth, Graveland, Warloghe, Malleus Maleficarum, Anwyl, etc...
His works can also be seen on several materials from the following bands : Gorgoroth, Mortiis, Gehenna, etc... Or linked to the promotion of other bands, like Strid, Enslaved, etc...
Since 2000, he's more focused on classic Fantasy illustration, and recently came back to artwork for Metal bands. His works have been shown in several exhibitions (France, Belgium, England), and several books are available, in collaboration with Edouard Brasey, Le Pré aux Clercs, Les Moutons électriques, Spootnik éditions, including an artbook, out in May 2011.Hadeon (album)
Hadeon is the eighth studio album by Dutch technical death metal band Pestilence. It was released digitally on 26 January 2018, nearly two months ahead of its scheduled release date; a physical component of the album was released on 9 March 2018. Hadeon is the band's first since album since their two-year hiatus from 2014 to 2016, and the first one since Malleus Maleficarum (1988) not to feature longtime lead and rhythm guitarist Patrick Uterwijk. "Hadeon" is also the first Pestilence studio album since 1993 "Spheres" featuring a solo bass composition ("Subvisions") composed by bassist Tilen Hudrap, who also wrote the accompanying lyrics for the song. All other tracks on the album were composed by Patrick Mameli.Heinrich Kramer
Heinrich Kramer (c. 1430 – 1505), also known under the Latinized name Henricus Institor, was a German churchman and inquisitor. With his widely distributed book Malleus Maleficarum (1487), which describes witchcraft and endorses detailed processes for the extermination of witches, he was instrumental in establishing the period of witch trials in the early modern period.Helena Scheuberin
Helena Scheuberin (fl. 1485) was an Austrian woman who stood trial accused of witchcraft. Her trial and acquittal led to the Malleus Maleficarum, which was published two years later.
In 1485, Helena Scheuberin was put on trial in Innsbruck. She was accused of having used magic to murder the noble knight Jörg Spiess. The knight had been afflicted by illness, and had been warned by his Italian doctor not to keep visiting Helena Scheuberin to avoid getting killed.
During the trial, six other women were implicated and accused of sorcery. Several witnesses gave testimonies that revealed them to be prejudiced by personal animosity toward the accused women. Furthermore, the authorities at this point still in general regarded sorcery as a minor offense and did not necessarily associate it with Satan. In the end, Helena Scheuberin and the other six women were all either freed or received mild sentences in the form of penance.Inquisitor
An inquisitor was an official (usually with judicial or investigative functions) in an Inquisition; an organization or program intended to eliminate heresy and other things contrary to the doctrine or teachings of the Catholic faith. Literally, an inquisitor is one who "searches out" or "inquires" (Latin inquirere < quaerere, "to seek").Jacob Sprenger
Jacob Sprenger (also James, Jakob, Jacobus, 1436/1438 – 6 December 1495) was a Dominican Friar. He was born in Rheinfelden, Further Austria.Laienspiegel
The work commonly referred to as Laienspiegel is a book of law. It was published in Augsburg, in 1509. Its full title is ″Laijen Spiegel. von rechtmässigen ordnungen in Burgerlichen vnd peinlichen regimenten. mit allegation[en] vn[d] bewerungen auß geschribnen rechten vnnd gesatzen“. This can be roughly translated as A layman's guide, of the correct order of civil and criminal regiments, with illustrations of written rights and laws. It was written by Ulrich Tengler, and published by Sebastian Brant. There was a second edition in 1511. The work was important enough to warrant 14 editions of its publication in the 16th century.
The work is divided in three parts. It contains private law, criminal law, and law of the public institutions. The publication is much like the Klagspiegel of 1436. Other similar works are the Malleus Maleficarum of the 15th century, and the Constitutio Criminalis Bambergensis.Maleficium (sorcery)
Maleficium (plural: maleficia) as a Latin term, "An act of witchcraft performed with the intention of causing damage or injury; the resultant harm." In general, the term applies to any magical act intended to cause harm or death to people or property. Its use in English comes from "Early 17th century; earliest use found in George Abbot (1562–1633), archbishop of Canterbury. From classical Latin maleficium evil deed, injury, sorcery from maleficus + -ium". In general, the term applies to any magical act intended to cause harm or death to people or property.According to the Witchcraft of Illinois, Maleficium can involve the act of poisoning or drugging someone. Practitioners of maleficium are not exclusively females, although popular culture of witchcraft favors it. Those accused of maleficium were punished by being imprisoned or even executed. Maleficium also used the practice of torture, and it was generally considered to be performed through the power of the Devil.In 1970, new research on witch-hunts and charges of witchcraft was conducted in the last couple of years. It discussed all of the fears, accusations, etc. that happened in the villages. There were different charges of maleficium that were placed due to suspicion. Lewis and Russell stated, "Maleficium was a threat not only to individuals but also to public order, for a community wracked by suspicions about witches could split asunder"."Sorcery, the practice of malevolent magic, derived from casting lots as a means of divining the future in the ancient Mediterranean world". Most scholars always assume that sorcery as a whole is always malevolent, but that witch craft can be good or evil. Usually, the sorcerer and sorcery are feared by society.
During the 14th century, sorcery was more connected with cultures in India and Africa. A person that performs sorcery is referred to as a sorcerer, and they are thought of as someone that tries to reform the world through an occult. Sorcerers were feared and respected throughout many societies and used many practices to achieve their goals. "Witches or sorcerers were usually feared as well as respected, and they used a variety of means to attempt to achieve their goals, including incantations (formulas or chants invoking evil spirits), divination and oracles (to predict the future), amulets and charms (to ward off hostile spirits and harmful events), potions or salves, and dolls or other figures (to represent their enemies)".Sorcery was also thought to sometimes rely on idols or old pagan gods, demons or the devil to get its power. Practitioners sometimes did this by performing rituals. One of the rituals that they performed was the slaughtering of an animal in a field to promote fertility. Sorcerers would do this with the assisted help or power of a god, a demon, or the devil.
During the 13th century, sorcery was involved in many deaths. They were thought to be done with magic, but were usually a result of poisoning. In 1324, there was a very famous case involving a series of events caused by sorcery in Ireland. Author George Melton wrote, "Lady Alice Kyteller was charged with performing magical rites, having sexual intercourse with demons, attempting to divine the future, and poisoning her first three husbands. In the Malleus Maleficarum (1486, "The Hammer of Witches"), the famous witch-hunter's manual, Dominicans Heinrich Krämer and Jacob Sprenger associated the practice of sorcery with a group of "witches" who allegedly practiced Satanism". After this, many believed that magic had to deal with the devil rather than other gods and spirits.
In the Byzantine Empire astrologers (Lat. mathematici) were considered magical wrongdoers and so were heretics.The term appears in several historically important texts, notably in the Formicarius (printed 1475) and in the Malleus Maleficarum (1487).The Knights Templar were accused by Philip IV of France of maleficium. The trial of the Knights Templar set a social standard for the popular belief in maleficium and witchcraft that contributed to the great European witch hunts. In early New England, more men would get accused of such maleficium that was "non-malefic".Malleus Maleficarum (album)
Malleus Maleficarum is the debut album by the Dutch death metal band Pestilence.Martin van Drunen
Martin van Drunen (Born 1966, Uden) is a Dutch death metal vocalist, who started out in the band Pestilence. In this band, he also performed the bass duties live. He recorded two albums with them, Malleus Maleficarum and Consuming Impulse. After his departure from Pestilence, he joined Asphyx as the singer and bass player in 1990. For this band he recorded two albums as well. He performed the vocals on Comecon's second album Converging Conspiracies in 1993 and then formed his own band called Submission. In 1995, he was asked to replace Karl Willetts in the UK death metal band Bolt Thrower. He did two tours with them, but never recorded an album.
In 2006 an 'all star' death metal band by the name Hail of Bullets was formed with van Drunen doing vocals, ex-Houwitser bass player Theo van Eekelen, Gorefest drummer Ed Warby and both Thanatos guitarists Paul Baayens and Stephan Gebédi. In May 2008 they released an album called …Of Frost and War. In 2009 van Drunen performed guest vocals on The Project Hate MCMXCIX's album The Lustrate Process. In October 2010, Hail of Bullets released their second album On Divine Winds.In death metal genre, Martin is very well known for his unique approach to vocals. He uses a higher pitched death growl, something that many fans describe as 'tortured screams' or 'screaming cries'. Because of that, he is one of the most well known death metal vocalists.Montague Summers
Augustus Montague Summers (10 April 1880 – 10 August 1948) was an English author and clergyman. He is known primarily for his scholarly work on the English drama of the 17th century, as well as for his idiosyncratic studies on witches, vampires, and werewolves, in all of which he professed to believe. He was responsible for the first English translation, published in 1928, of the notorious 15th-century witch hunter's manual, the Malleus Maleficarum.Palnatoke
Palnatoke or Palnatoki, sometimes written Palna-Toki or Palna Toki (Old Norse Pálnatóki or Pálna-Tóki), was a legendary Danish hero and chieftain of the island of Fyn. According to the Jómsvíkinga saga, Palnatoki founded the brotherhood of Jomsvikings and established its laws.According to the Jómsvíkinga saga, he was the son of Palner Tokesen and his wife Ingeborg who was the daughter of the Geatish earl Ottar Jarl. Palnatoke raised king Harald Bluetooth's son Sweyn Forkbeard and was a staunch supporter of the old pagan faith. Harald Bluetooth had allowed Christian missionaries from the Archbishop of Hamburg-Bremen missionary in Denmark and the king himself was baptized once between 960 and 965. Palnatoke convinced Sweyn to wage war on his father. In the mid-980s, Sweyn revolted against his father and seized the throne. Harald was driven into exile and died shortly afterwards. According to some accounts, Palnatoki himself slew Harald. In addition to religious motives, he may have been taking revenge for the death of his grandfather, Jarl Ottar, who was killed when Harald invaded Götaland.
Saxo Grammaticus relates how Palnatoke (Toko) was forced by King Harald to use a single arrow to shoot an apple from his own son's head as the boy ran downhill. The legendary motif of the great archer forced to shoot an apple from his son's head appears among other Germanic nations, as the story of Egil in the Þiðrekssaga, William of Cloudesley in an English ballad, Hemming Wolf in Holstein, Puncher in an Upper Rhenish legend in Malleus Maleficarum, and most famously William Tell in Switzerland.The name has been interpreted in two different ways. The first is as an alternate Old Norse patronymic meaning "Palni's (or Palnir's) (son) Tóki". The other is as a nickname meaning "Shaft-Toki" or "Toki the Archer".Punker of Rohrbach
Punker [ˈpʊŋkɐ] is a legendary figure of the 15th century from the German village of Rohrbach (now part of the city of Heidelberg).
According to the Malleus Maleficarum. around 1430 there was an extremely accurate archer named Punker who was rumoured to possess supernatural powers. It was said that he had enabled the capture of a castle (castrum Lendenbrunnen, presumably Lindelbrunn near Dahn) almost single-handed with deadly shots from his bow. In addition a legend about him, similar to one told about the Swiss William Tell, is recounted in Malleus Maleficarum. The story goes that even the Count Palatine, Louis III of the Rhine, was in awe of Punker, so outstandingly accurate he was, whether on the battlefield or in the hunt. In order to try and trap him into admitting his magic powers, he ordered him to use his own son as a target and shoot a penny from the top of his beret. If he failed, the penalty was death. For a long time, Punker refused because he was worried that the devil might cause his normally safe hands to waver. Eventually he agreed to the test. Punker placed a bolt in his crossbow and then drew a second and tucked it in his tunic. He then fired and struck the penny off without grazing the boy's beret. When asked by the count why he had prepared a second bolt, at first he responds that it was out of habit, but when assured he will not be killed for answering honestly, he said "If the devil had caused me to miss and kill my boy then, sir, I would have put this second bolt through you because I was doomed to die, but I would have avenged my son."The street of Punkerstraße in Rohrbach and the district magazine der punker are named after him.Resurrection Macabre
Resurrection Macabre is the fifth studio album by Dutch technical death metal band Pestilence, which was released on 16 March 2009. It is the band's first album of original material in 16 years, since 1993's Spheres. Re-recordings of "Chemo Therapy" from Malleus Maleficarum, "Out of the Body" from Consuming Impulse, and "Lost Souls" from Testimony of the Ancients appear as bonus tracks on the album.Strixology
Strixology is a genre of writing about the reality and dangers of witches, their origins, character and power; often in the context of theology or of demonology. (The Latin word strix can mean "screech-owl" or "witch".)
During the early modern period strixologists refuted the reality of witches and contributed to the decline of witch-hunts.As a systematic study, strixology emerged during the period 1431—1439 at the Council of Basel - an ecclesiastical council where theologians and demonologists met and debated what was seen as the Devil's work, magical observations and confessions of witches. Those issues were not a primary purpose of the Council. Nonetheless, the subject of one of the discussions was a peasant named Stedelen who was believed to have committed maleficia and who said under torture that he was a part of a secret society of Devil-worshippers. This story was disturbing enough to be reported to the council by Peter of Simmental and described in great detail.This case and similar revelations were later used by the Dominican professor Johannes Nider, a participant at the Council's meetings, as examples in his Formicarius (1436-1438) a book that laid the foundations of strixology. Scholars cited this significant work for centuries. Around the time Formicarius was published, there was a relatively small number of witch-hunt victims - estimated to have been in the hundreds.This changed at the end of the 15th century, partially due to the publication of the infamous Malleus Maleficarum which cemented belief in the reality of witches and in the higher susceptibility of women to take part in witchcraft. The book proclaimed that “evils which are performed by witches exceed all other sin which God has ever permitted to be done.…”. The Malleus Maleficarum adamantly pushed its views on the threat of witches in society. The text boldly claims that "[witches] exist" and "to defend the opposite view steadfastly is altogether heretical"Summis desiderantes affectibus
Summis desiderantes affectibus (Latin for "Desiring with supreme ardor"), sometimes abbreviated to Summis desiderantes was a papal bull regarding witchcraft issued by Pope Innocent VIII on 5 December 1484.
|In British Isles|
|Outside of Europe|
|Folklore and mythology|
|Major historic treatises|