Malleus Maleficarum


Sometime ago, a friend had asked me about the “Malleus Maleficarum” about the “witch hunt” of the Inquisition during the 1480’s. Interesting read, I have it saved in My Favorites.

My question is: Wasn’t there something either about the document or the authors, Kramer and Sprenger, not being factual or that the document was actually not used for its intended purpose? I believe it is said that the book became the “Manuel for Witch Hunting?”

Any clarification would be greatly appreciated.



Is this what you are referring to:

The book itself was not specifically ordered by the Roman Catholic Church. The writers attached a letter of approbation from the University of Cologne ostensibly signed by four teachers there. However, this letter was a forgery. The University had not approved the book, and had in fact condemned it for the use of unethical legal procedures, and because its demonology was not consistent with Catholic doctrine. Kramer was condemned by the Inquisition in 1490, but the book continued in publication, buoyed by the growing popular hunger for remedies against witchcraft.

I got the above from a Wikipedia article.


Yes, I think this is it. Do you know where I can find more details about this?

Thanks fo jogging my memory, Dallas!


Demon Lovers: Witchcraft, Sex, and the Crisis of Belief
by Walter Stephens

It’s a rare look into how the Malleus Mallificarum was written and edited that sheds light on the motivations of Kramer and Sprenger. I found it especialy interesting to learn how the text evolved in response to failed witch trials. (For example, gagging witches in court to prevent them from casting spells was invented in response to an eloquent woman who ‘bewitched’ the magistrate and won her freedom.)


Witch-hunting was not just a Catholic phenomenon.
A couple years ago I read The Reformation by Diarmud MacCullough (very good, btw) & he states that after the initial upheavals of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation there was a huge upsurge in witch-hunts in both Catholic and Protestant countries.
The only places that were immune were Spain and Ireland, perhaps because Spain had “infidels” (Jews and Moors) to deal with and Ireland had the English barbarians on their shores.


Wow, thanks y’all. I’ll definitely look into those!

I knew I could count on my brothers and sisters at CA - ya’ll are wonderful!


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