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The Malleus Maleficarum is one of the best-known treatises dealing with the problem of what to do with witches. It was written in 1487 by a Dominican inquisitor, Heinrich Institoris, following his failure to prosecute a number of women for witchcraft, it is in many ways a highly personal document, full of frustration at official complacency in the face of a spiritual threat, as well as being a practical guide for law-officers who have to deal with a cunning, dangerous enemy. Combining theological discussion, illustrative anecdotes, and useful advice for those involved in suppressing witchcraft, its influence on witchcraft studies has been extensive.

The only previous translation into English, that by Montague Summers produced in 1928, is full of inaccuracies. It is written in a style almost unreadable nowadays, and is unfortunately coloured by his personal agenda. This new edited translation, with an introductory essay setting witchcraft, Institoris, and the Malleus into clear, readable English, corrects Summers’ mistakes and offers a lean, unvarnished version of what Institoris actually wrote. It will undoubtedly become the standard translation of this important and controversial late-medieval text.

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P.G. Maxwell-Stuart

In this introduction, translator P.G. Maxwell-Stuart sets out the key themes and features of the three distinct parts of The Malleus Maleficarum, discussing he intellectual ambience of the Malleus, magic in the fifteenth century, and inquisitors Heinrich Institoris and Jakob Sprenger. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the later history of the Malleus, and it's various printings and translations into German, French, English, and Italian.

in The Malleus Maleficarum
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P.G. Maxwell-Stuart

This section presents Part I of The Malleus Maleficarum, one of the best-known treatises dealing with the problem of what to do with witches, written in 1487 by a Dominican inquisitor, Heinrich Institoris. Part I is addressed to fellow theologians, and is devoted to showing that the conspiratorial pact between workers of harmful magic and evil spirits is no fantasy but a present reality, and that the cause of the increasing numbers of witches lies in the sexual relations between women and evil spirits. It is thus an extended essay in demonology rather than a handbook.

in The Malleus Maleficarum
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P.G. Maxwell-Stuart

This section presents Part II of The Malleus Maleficarum, one of the best-known treatises dealing with the problem of what to do with witches, written in 1487 by a Dominican inquisitor, Heinrich Institoris. Part II is intended for preachers and certainly contains a large number of anecdotes and instances which they could use in their sermons, but it is far from being a mere collection of useful stories. Its constant thrust not only repeats the messages of Part I, but also makes clear an important step in Institoris’s general argument – that the many popular beliefs and practices there presented, in one form or another, show that one cannot distinguish between a practitioner of magic of whatever kind she or he might be and a heretical devotee of Satan.

in The Malleus Maleficarum
Abstract only
P.G. Maxwell-Stuart

This section presents Part IIII of The Malleus Maleficarum, one of the best-known treatises dealing with the problem of what to do with witches, written in 1487 by a Dominican inquisitor, Heinrich Institoris. Part III is indeed more like a manual. Addressed to judges both ecclesiastical and secular, it covers a large number of technical points anent the arrest, examination, and sentencing of workers of harmful magic, offering examples of the appropriate formulae to be used in whatever circumstance the examining and sentencing judge might fi nd himself. This part could, in fact, almost be detached from the rest of the treatise without affecting the other two.

in The Malleus Maleficarum