Search results

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.

Theology and popular belief

The Malleus Maleficarum is 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, 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, the treatise's influence on witchcraft studies has been extensive. The only previous translation into English, that by Montague Summers in 1928, is full of inaccuracies. It is written in a style almost unreadable nowadays, and is unfortunately coloured by Institoris's personal agenda. This new edited translation, with an introductory essay setting witchcraft, Institoris and the Malleus into clear English, corrects Summers' mistakes and offers an unvarnished version of what Institoris actually wrote. It will undoubtedly become the standard translation of this controversial late medieval text.

Abstract only
P.G. Maxwell-Stuart

towards some kind of mutual understanding of the offences alleged and eventually tried. Heinrich Institoris and Jakob Sprenger It is generally assumed that Institoris was born in c.1430 and that his native town was Schlettstadt in the diocese of Strassburg. 39 He probably became a Dominican in his mid-teens, but the first significant fact we know about him is that he was confessor to a Waldensian heretic, Friedrich Reiser, in 1458 during the time Reiser was waiting to be executed in Strassburg. The Waldensians, as we have seen, may have contributed to the clerical

in The Malleus Maleficarum
Abstract only
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
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
Abstract only
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
Open Access (free)
Demonological descriptions of male witches
Lara Apps and Andrew Gow

witches are described in many tracts. It is only by deciding, a priori, that male witches are insignificant that one could treat early modern demonology as sex-specific. Texts When we ‘discovered’ that Heinrich Institoris and Jacob Sprenger referred to witches in both masculine and feminine terms, one of our first questions concerned the relative frequency of the masculine usage. Just

in Male witches in early modern Europe
Open Access (free)
Lara Apps and Andrew Gow

Inquisitors Heinrich Institoris (Kramer, Krämer) and Jacob Sprenger, 6 believed that all witches were female. In Latin, groups containing both males and females conventionally are represented by the masculine plural, even if there are more females than males in the group. The feminine plural implies an absence of males from a group; therefore, the use of the feminine in the title Malleus maleficarum suggests that all witches are

in Male witches in early modern Europe
Open Access (free)
Hans Peter Broedel

man’s relationship with God and with the devil, and about witchcraft and witches, assumptions we shall now examine. Notes 1 For biographical accounts of Institoris and Sprenger, see Peter Segl, “Heinrich Institoris: Persönlichkeit und literarisches Werk,” in Peter Segl, ed., Der Hexenhammer (Cologne: Böhlau Verlag, 1988), 103–26; Joseph Hansen, ed., Quellen und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte des Hexenwahns und der Hexenverfolgung im Mittelalter (reprint, Hildesheim: Georg Olms Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1963), 360–407; Joseph Hansen, Zauberwahn, Inquisition und

in The Malleus Maleficarum and the construction of witchcraft
Open Access (free)
Contested categories
Hans Peter Broedel

survive in Brixen’s episcopal archives; they have been partially edited by Hartmann Ammann, “Der Innsbrucker Hexenprocess von 1485,” Zeitschrift des Ferdinandeums für Tirol und Vorarlberg 34 (1890): 1–87. See also Eric Wilson, “Institoris at Innsbruck: Heinrich Institoris, the Summis Desiderantes and the Brixen Witch-Trial of 1485,” in R.W. Scribner and Trevor Johnson, eds., Popular Religion in Germany and Central Europe, 1400–1800 (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1996): 87–100. 2 “Pfie dich, du sneder minch, daz dich das fallend übel etc.” Ammann, “Innsbrucker

in The Malleus Maleficarum and the construction of witchcraft