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It set into the general Christian consciousness, for all time, a belief in the existence of witches as a real and valid threat to the Christian world. It is a belief which is held to this day. It must be noted that during the Inquisition, few, if any, real, verifiable, witches were ever discovered or tried. Often the very accusation was enough to see one branded a witch, tried by the Inquisitors' Court, and burned alive at the stake.


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Estimates of the death toll during the Inquisition worldwide range from , to as high as 9,, over its year long course ; either is a chilling number when one realizes that nearly all of the accused were women, and consisted primarily of outcasts and other suspicious persons. Usually to devastating effect. It must also be noted that the crime of Witchcraft was not the only crime of which one could be accused during the Inquisition. By questioning any part of Catholic belief, one could be branded a heretic.

Scientists were branded heretics by virtue of repudiating certain tenets of Christian belief most notably Galileo, whose theories on the nature of planets and gravitational fields was initially branded heretical. Writers who challenged the Church were arrested for heresy sometimes formerly accepted writers whose works had become unpopular.

Anyone who questioned the validity of any part of Catholic belief did so at their own risk. The Malleus Maleficarum played an important role in bringing such Canonical law into being, as often the charge of heresy carried along with it suspicions of witchcraft. It must be remembered that the Malleus is a work of its time. Science had only just begun to make any real advances. At that time nearly any unexplainable illness or malady would often be attributed to magic, and thus the activity of witches. It was a way for ordinary people to make sense of the world around them. Misogynistic attitudes are an unfortunately ubiquitous feature of the Malleus Maleficarum.

As discussed above, the treatise argues that the inherent failings of women most particularly their lascivious sexuality inclined them towards participation in witchcraft, because they were susceptible to the sexual temptations of demons and devils. After the publication of the Malleus, Kramer and Sprenger's misogynistic thesis became an accepted fact, and most of those who were prosecuted as witches were women.

Among the authors of these texts, "[T]heir detailed reflections on the nature of sexual intercourse with demons, on the pleasure and pain experienced by witches coupling with demons, and on the generalized lubricity of the sabbat suggest that demonologists were deeply interested in eliciting confessions of sexual secrets. With good reason, early modern demonology has been described as a kind of scholarly pornography. In spite of the text's unforgivable misogyny, the Malleus Maleficarum was significantly influenced by humanistic ideologies.

Just as the ancient subjects of astronomy , philosophy , and medicine were being reintroduced to the west at this time, the Malleus helps to expand typical Scholastic discourse by referring, not only to the Bible and early theologians, but also to Aristotelian thought and Neo-Platonism. The Malleus achieved such a height of influence and popularity for two primary reasons, one socio-cultural, the other technological. As mentioned above, the late fifteenth century was a period of religious turmoil, already charged with the inchoate challenges that would eventually spark the Protestant Reformation several decades in the future.

The Malleus Maleficarum and the witch craze that it helped engender took advantage of the increasing intolerance of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation in Europe, where the Protestant and Catholic camps each zealously strove to maintain the purity of faith.

Technologically speaking, the text of the Malleus Maleficarum was able to spread throughout Europe so rapidly in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century due to the innovation of the printing press in the middle of the fifteenth century by Johannes Gutenberg.

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That printing should have been invented thirty years before the first publication of the Malleus was, fatalistically speaking, a piece of remarkable ill-timing. As Russell suggests, "[T]he swift propagation of the witch hysteria by the press was the first evidence that Gutenberg had not liberated man from original sin.

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The popularity of the Malleus Maleficarum cannot be overstated, especially given its extensive publication history where it sold out over thirty editions over its print run. Also, as some researchers have noted, the fact that the Malleus was popular does not imply that it accurately reflected or influenced actual practice; one researcher compared it to confusing a "television docu-drama" with "actual court proceedings.

However, it is undeniable that such a text, with its dogmatic theology, rampant misogyny, and explicit endorsement of torture, would have had a markedly legitimizing effect upon these hateful movements. Indeed, whether the witch-hunters "killed , people in years, as some historians believe, or only 30,, as others more cautiously estimate," it remains the case that this singular text was one of the primary inspirations that undergirded their systematic campaign of brutality.

New World Encyclopedia writers and editors rewrote and completed the Wikipedia article in accordance with New World Encyclopedia standards. This article abides by terms of the Creative Commons CC-by-sa 3. Credit is due under the terms of this license that can reference both the New World Encyclopedia contributors and the selfless volunteer contributors of the Wikimedia Foundation.

To cite this article click here for a list of acceptable citing formats. In this in made an important contribution to the forms of hysteria that formed such an important part of the psychology of the Burning Times. So, this is what I would like you to hold in mind: This was the essential fuel of the witch-hunt, then and in all subsequent times. Any rating here, like a rating of a work like Mein Kampf , also seems gratuitously unnecessary, serving almost like a papal imprimatur!

I can assure you that I do not approve of the contents of this book. My rating, however, is more a reflection of the package offered by Maxwell-Stuart. Not only is it a vast improvement on past translations but it comes with a superb introductory essay.

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I think it only fair to add that if you are looking for something, lurid, dark and racy the Malleus is bound to disappoint. It is crushingly dull! Or is that just witchy prejudice? View all 5 comments. Oct 06, R. We're pretty certain it's a phase. You know kids, ha-ha. Why is he tying your youngest, his brother, to a pole? Is that a phase, too? You can't suffer them to live. Well, warlock, to get technic "Why is your son dressed like a pilgrim? Well, warlock, to get technical about it. Don't think it didn't surprise me. Saves me the job, you know. View all 4 comments. Want to get into the filthy minds of 15th century Puritan men who fear women?

View all 7 comments. Dec 02, Eva rated it it was amazing. It seems absurd that people actually thought that way once upon a time but it is part of history. Maybe some day future generations will think our way absurd too. The Malleus is often advertized as a "witch hunter's handbook", but it really isn't. It's not about hunting anything.


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It's not even really about what to do with witches after they're caught. It's really all about the tedious little details of the trial process. First of all, the introduction is much crazier than the actual book. The translator was a raving lunatic. The first chapters of the actual text make Kramer seem quite a smart fellow, you know, just a victim of the ignorance of his times.

Th The Malleus is often advertized as a "witch hunter's handbook", but it really isn't. The sensational modern view of the witch hunts is that the inquisitors were some kind of a roaming menace, traveling from village to village molesting and murdering sexy hot teenage girls. The problem with this idea is that almost everyone else believed in witches, too.

The burning of witches is a pagan tradition, and the christian church was slow, and reluctant, to take it on.

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So the inquisition is not the source of the problem, it's a reaction to it. When Kramer talks about torture, he pretty much just says do it in whatever way you usually do it. He is not the instigator of medieval cruelty, he is just in the middle of it. As a book, most of the Malleus is very boring legal text and pseudo-philosophical religious ramblings.


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There are some strikingly disgusting moments of misogyny here and there, but overall, Kramer is pretty logical in his thoughts. Too bad his whole frame of reference is way off. The somewhat decent logic is useless when the premises are based on silly superstitions.

The Malleus Maleficarum

I thought it was funny how strongly he believes is astrology. Isn't that a no-no for today's religious? Jan 15, Karianna rated it did not like it Shelves: This is the most evil text ever written, a title I had previously reserved for Mien Kampf. It's entire inception was evil, everything in the book itself was evil and may the authors of it be punished for all eternity. Pero no se hace desde un punto de vista objetivo, apuntando acontecimientos concretos. Oct 29, Edwin Stratton-Mackay rated it it was amazing.

This is the go-to guidebook for identifying witches.

If you suspect sorcery, the Malleus Maleficarum is your one-stop-shop. Sep 21, Annie rated it really liked it Shelves: Such a quotable book tbh. So glad this was preserved for posterity. It's essentially some priest nattering on about how women like cats and sex too much, and how they steal men's dicks and pride and dignity and how to deal with them in court. Then, using the wisest counsel I could, I asked whether he suspected anyone of having so bewitched him. And the young man said that he did suspect someone, but that she was absent and living in Worms.

For he came back after a few days and thanked me, saying that he was whole and had recovered everything. And I believed his words, but again proved them by the evidence of my eyes. Some mashup of "Don't let the bastards grind you down" and "We're all in the gutter looking up at the stars" "When the member is in no way stirred, and can never perform the act of coition, this is a sign of frigidity of nature; but when it is stirred and becomes erect, but yet cannot perform, it is a sign of witchcraft.

Anyway, that was a weird read. Dry at parts, but worth it for the chuckles in between. Those who are interested in history. The Malleus is a historical document therefore reflects the views of some people at a specific time. The truth is Kramer and Sprenger's ideas were not widely accepted even during their time. Although they were Catholic monks, their views were not the views of the Chur The Malleus is a historical document therefore reflects the views of some people at a specific time.

Although they were Catholic monks, their views were not the views of the Church or the University. In fact, there is evidence that Kramer was expelled by the local bishop during a witch trial in for his unprofessional conduct and this rejection was the reason for writing the Malleus, to try to gain recognition from Rome for his crazy theories. According to the Malleus, men could lose their penises through magical attacks by witches.

There are stories here of men claiming that their genitals had disappeared. Witches were said to store the removed genitals in birds' nests or in boxes, where "they move themselves like living members and eat oats and corn". This, in the end, is about one sick man or two sick men feeding on the Medieval people and their fears, beliefs and the world the people saw around them, twisting and turning them into what they believed.

The 4 stars is for the historical value. View all 6 comments. Sep 08, Jason rated it really liked it. The copy had some lovely illustrations in it. The book itself is pretty crazy, just how many women were tortured and killed because of this book beggars belief. I think it was Pope Innocent who commissioned this book and whilst reading it you can really get a sense of their fear of women. A very dark and disturbing book which is a must read as it is part of our history Feb 23, David rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: