Hammer of the Witches: Malleus Maleficarum (Paperback)

Hammer of the Witches: Malleus Maleficarum By Montague Summers (Translator), Henricus Institoris, Heinrich Kramer Cover Image
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Hammer of the Witches

Malleus Maleficarum


by Heinrich Kramer

Translated by Montague Summers

"It has been recognized even from the very earliest times, during the first gropings towards the essential conveniences of social decency and social order, that witchcraft is an evil thing, an enemy to light, an ally of the powers of darkness, disruption, and decay." "Sometimes, no doubt, primitive communities were obliged to tolerate the witch and her works owing to fear; in other words, witchcraft was a kind of blackmail; but directly Cities were able to to co-ordinate, and it became possible for Society to protect itself, precautions were taken and safeguards were instituted against this curse, this bane whose object seemed to blight all that was fair, all that was just and good, and that was well-appointed and honourable, in a word, whose aim proved to be set up on high the red standard of revolution; to overwhelm religion, existing order, and the comeliness of life in an abyss of anarchy, nihilism, and despair."

The Malleus Maleficarum, usually translated as Hammer of Witches, is the best known and the most important treatise on witchcraft. It was written by the 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.

Magical acts and witchcraft had long been forbidden by the Church, whose attitude towards witchcraft was explained in the canon Episcopi written in about 900 AD. 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. In 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.

Product Details
ISBN: 9781977920331
ISBN-10: 1977920330
Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
Publication Date: October 4th, 2017
Pages: 240
Language: English