Categories
Malleus In Culture

Treat Kids To A Safe Halloween

Trick-or-Treat Witch[This article from the Sierra Times Herald in Arizona by police Lt. Jim Adams. It’s a timely article, and references the Malleus, so I thought I’d mention it here.]

Behind the Badge: Treat kids to a safe Halloween

Americans spend $6.9 billion annually on Halloween, which is second only to Christmas. I love Halloween, but the concept puzzles me from a parenting standpoint. Consider that we will collectively buy costumes to conceal our children’s identities and then let them go out after dark to run the streets and ask strangers for candy (of all things)! Equally interesting is that many of the costumes we buy are personifications of people we consider villains, such as pirates and witches.
Witches (and the hunting of them) have an interesting history. In 1486, a pair of Dominican monks authored the Malleus Maleficarum, which set guidelines by which a witch could potentially be identified from amongst the general populace. Standards included women who keep pets (construed as companions granted by satan), were old (their longevity being a gift from the devil), had strange markings on their body, failed to bleed properly when their skin was punctured, or missed church without good cause.
This literary work was likely inspired by the papal bull of 1484 issued by Pope Innocent VIII titled the Summis Desiderantes. It stated that “all heretical depravity should be driven far from the frontiers and bournes of the Faithful.” This amounted to his blessing relative to the practice of rooting out suspected witches as part of the Inquisition.
All of this was further complicated by the invention of the Gutenberg press in 1439, which made it possible for the Malleus Maleficarum to be published 13 times between 1487 and 1520, leading to the book’s message spread across Europe.

Americans spend $6.9 billion annually on Halloween, which is second only to Christmas. I love Halloween, but the concept puzzles me from a parenting standpoint. Consider that we will collectively buy costumes to conceal our children’s identities and then let them go out after dark to run the streets and ask strangers for candy (of all things)! Equally interesting is that many of the costumes we buy are personifications of people we consider villains, such as pirates and witches.

Witches (and the hunting of them) have an interesting history. In 1486, a pair of Dominican monks authored the Malleus Maleficarum, which set guidelines by which a witch could potentially be identified from amongst the general populace. Standards included women who keep pets (construed as companions granted by satan), were old (their longevity being a gift from the devil), had strange markings on their body, failed to bleed properly when their skin was punctured, or missed church without good cause.

This literary work was likely inspired by the papal bull of 1484 issued by Pope Innocent VIII titled the Summis Desiderantes. It stated that “all heretical depravity should be driven far from the frontiers and bournes of the Faithful.” This amounted to his blessing relative to the practice of rooting out suspected witches as part of the Inquisition.

All of this was further complicated by the invention of the Gutenberg press in 1439, which made it possible for the Malleus Maleficarum to be published 13 times between 1487 and 1520, leading to the book’s message spread across Europe.

Read The Full Article >>>

Categories
Malleus In Culture

When Did Women Become Subjects Of A Lesser God, And What About Now?

Women Marching For Voting RightsA recent article by Carol Gibson on Examiner.com, titled “When did women become subjects of a lesser god, and what about now?”, mentions the Malleus Maleficarum in relation to comments about Women’s Equality Day (Aug 26) which commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment, the Woman Suffrage Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave U.S. women full voting rights in 1920. The unfortunate part of this  article is that Carol Gibson sets forth a fallacy that has been popularized by the Catholic Church; that being that the Malleus Maleficarum was a banned book and had relatively no influence whatsoever (which historical records show simply isn’t true).

The pertinent quotes to take from the article, for those of us who are interested in the Malleus as a historical artifact, are;

A text called Malleus Maleficarum, an ancient text translated as “Witchs’ Hammer” contained reports of the Inquisition describing possibly the bloodiest account of this time period, and possibly of all time in written history.

The Inquisition propaganda of the time sought to indoctrinate people against women. The “evil” of freethinking women was decried along with instructions to the priests. This included where to find them, and how to torture and destroy them.

The Inquisition propaganda of the time sought to indoctrinate people against women. The “evil” of freethinking women was decried along with instructions to the priests. This included where to find them, and how to torture and destroy them.

As it turned out later, the Catholic Church banned these writings as not being in accordance with the scriptures. More than this, these writings were mostly ignored other than the perversions of the man who wrote them in 1490.

I felt compelled to post a response, which I’ve included below so that it can be commented upon;

Just a note about the Malleus. The Malleus Maleficarum was first published in 1487, but it was not placed on the Catholic Church’s “Index Librorum Prohibitorum” (”List of Prohibited Books”) until 1559 (by which time the cat was already out of the bag, as it were). One of the authors, Henrich Kramer, was denounced in 1490, but this had no bearing on the Malleus Maleficarum itself. The Malleus was widely used as a reference in secular courts, and at it’s zenith of influence was one of the most widely published books (second only to The Bible). The claim that the Malleus Maleficarum was an unimportant work that went largely ignored is a dubious claim that’s been floated by the Catholic Church for centuries. The historical record clearly shows that the Malleus Maleficarum, in spite of being placed on the “Index Librorum Prohibitorum” 70 years after its publication, was wildly popular, and remained so throughout the Inquisition as a reference guide for secular courts.

Any thoughts upon this issue? I look forward to hearing what you think about this article, as well as the notion that the Malleus Maleficarum was never an influential work (which, if that’s true, leads one to wonder why we’re still talking about it).

– Wicasta Lovelace

Links

Categories
Malleus In Culture

Who Burned The Witches?

Witch BurningThere is an interesting article by Sandra Miesel on the blog EndrTimes which discusses the Inquisition, the “Burning Times” and the often exaggerated numbers of victims who perished during the “witch craze”.  It provides a lot of historical context to the Inquisition and the Malleus’ roll in prosecuting those of accused of witchcraft. I highly recommend giving it a read.

What follows are excerpts from the text of that article;

Meanwhile, witch-hunters’ manuals multiplied, most notably the infamous Malleus Maleficarum (Hammer of Witches), published in 1486. Its authors, Jacob Sprenger and Heinrich Kraemer, were experienced Dominican inquisitors who had burned 48 witches in one diocese alone and had obtained a papal bull approving their mission. Reversing the old principle of the Canon Episcopi, Sprenger and Kraemer proclaimed that not believing in the reality of witches was heresy. Witches regularly did physical as well as spiritual harm to others, they wrote, and allegiance to the devil defined witchcraft. Sprenger and Kraemer exhorted secular authorities to fight witches by any means necessary.

Malleus Maleficarum (notice the feminine possessive of “witches”) was a vicious misogynist tract. It depicted women as the sexual playmates of Satan, declaring: “All witchcraft comes from carnal lust, which is in women insatiable.” Ironically, Sprenger also had a deep devotion to Mary. He helped to shape the modern rosary and founded the first rosary confraternity.

Malleus Maleficarum did not cover its ground completely, failing to discuss the actual pact that witches made with the devil, the sabbat, familiars (imps in animal form who aided witches), and night-flying. But those elements did not always appear in witchcraft cases. By itself, the Malleus started no new witch-panics, but it was freely used by later witchcraft writers, Protestant and Catholic alike. The Spanish inquisitors were nearly alone in scoffing at its lack of sophistication.

The demonologists who absorbed the Malleus were highly cultured men, such as the Protestant Jean Bodin, “the Aristotle of the 16th century,” and his contemporary, the Jesuit classicist Martin del Rio. Those theoreticians pounded home the principle of the crimen exceptum: Because witchcraft was so vile an offense, accused witches had no legal rights. “Not one witch in a million would be accused or punished,” Bodin boasted, “if the procedure were governed by ordinary rules.” Anyone who defended accused witches or denied their crimes deserved the same punishment as witches, Bodin wrote.

Read The Full Article @ EndrTimes >>

Categories
Malleus In Culture

Facebook Group

Malleus Maleficarum Group on FacebookAround here we like indulging in theoretical exercises. Perhaps that’s an occupational hazard when you host a web site for an Inquisitor’s handbook. But in keeping with that tradition, we’ve recently created a Malleus Maleficarum group on Facebook. Since our forum scripts were such a disaster (overrun almost immediately by spammers), we thought perhaps discussion of the Malleus and its impact on contemporary society could be moved to Facebook, where there is a robust architecture supporting just such a dialogue.

If you have a Facebook account and would like to join us and the discussion on Facebook, please come by and say hello. Our group there can be found at;

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=149439229324

Categories
Malleus In Culture

Q&A With Christopher Mackay

Christopher MackayInterview by Joanna Weiss
Boston Globe
August 2, 2009

Harry Potter should be glad he practices his wizarding in the modern world. European sorcerers had a much less pleasant time of things in 1486, when the Malleus Maleficarum – “The Hammer of Witches” – was first published.

The lengthy tome was medieval Europe’s definitive guide to recognizing and prosecuting witchcraft, the justification for a wave of burnings-at-the-stake – largely of peasant women – that took place from the late 1400s to about 1520. And it helped spread the paranoid notion of a vast satanic conspiracy: a world where demons roamed freely, enticing women to cast spells, kill babies, interfere with procreation, and try to delay the fast-approaching End Times. (At the time, many thought the Earth’s sell-by date was 1535.)

Written largely by a Dominican friar from Germany named Henricus Institoris, republished broadly in its day, the Malleus was last translated from Latin to English in the 1920s. This month Cambridge University Press published a modern translation in a one-volume paperback, “The Hammer of Witches.” We spoke to the translator, Christopher Mackay, a professor of history and classics at the University of Alberta.

Ideas: One thing that occurred to me, reading this book, is that human nature hasn’t changed much in 450 years.

Mackay: The thing that I find most relevant to today is how you view the world around you. You see what you think you’ll see and you don’t see what you don’t think you’ll see. On “CSI,” Grissom says that the facts speak for themselves, but the facts don’t speak for themselves. It’s how you interpret the facts. [Institoris] talks about things like, you can stick a knife into a beam into your barn and you pretend to milk it, and through some razzmatazz you steal the milk from your neighbor’s cow. This is what people really thought. Onto that kind of stuff, he wants to impose this notion of this sect of heretics who are presided over by Satan.

Ideas: Was there a lot of superstition in daily life in Europe in those days?

Mackay: It depends on what you mean by superstition, because, after all, the church itself performed miracles. It’s a matter of degree. The Church has a store of magic at its command that is acceptable – that comes from God and is good – on the one hand. And you can invoke Satan to do similar things, and that’s bad.

Ideas: Was there a hue and cry against witchcraft before the religious inquisitors got involved?

Mackay: It depends on what you mean by hue and cry. People believed in witchcraft, but they didn’t know about satanism. Whether you think you’re just some kind of wise woman and you’re able to say a few spells on some herbs is one thing. Thinking that that person is involved in a conspiracy with Satan is another thing. In terms of the big witch-hunting trials, they were inquisitions that were conducted by the authorities rather than things that happened out of the population. You wouldn’t have crowds of people like in “Frankenstein” with pitchforks and whatnot demanding that so-and-so were killed.

Ideas: Institoris takes a pretty dim view of women’s role in all of this.

Mackay: Oh, he’s got a terrible attitude towards women. He thinks they’re less mentally capable and they’re more emotional and they’re therefore more susceptible to influence by Satan. One of his big notions of how women get involved in this is by being sluts, being dumped, and being recruited not by Satan directly but usually by an old woman. He says it’s old women who recruit young women. The way he presents it on the surface sounds a little bit sympathetic.

Ideas: It seems like he takes anything in the culture – rumors, peasant magic, jokes – and imagines it’s part of a satanic cult.

Mackay: Yeah. To write a book like that you have to be really convinced. And so he’s taking whatever evidence he can and working it into his world view. It’s hard to know what the people who practiced this kind of stuff actually thought. But some of his anecdotes reflect actual practices, like the thing about sticking the knife in and milking it. How does stealing milk have anything to do with subverting the natural world?

Ideas: Were his ideas adopted widely, or were these witch hunts just imposed from outside by a small group of inquisitors?

Mackay: One of the reasons why the Malleus is important is that it’s published 35 years after the invention of movable type, which made the dissemination of ideas much easier than it had been. The point is that it made this stuff fashionable, gave it a very elaborate intellectual underpinning. If the bishop of Bamberger or someone like that gets a hold of this idea and he takes it into his head, he’s going to apply it.

Ideas: Part of that application process was torturing the accused. But the book doesn’t go into the gory methods.

Mackay: Not only does it not go into the methods, but there’s a passage about how you shouldn’t do fancy stuff and you shouldn’t act like you enjoy it. The procedure was, you simply tied people’s hands behind their backs and you attached them to a pulley. Then the weight of their body pulled on their shoulders. Institoris argues that it’s much better to use these fancy intellectual methods that he propounds rather than to use a totally unreliable method of torture.

Ideas: But if a woman confessed, she was guilty. If she said she was innocent, that was proof of her guilt. No matter what you said, it seemed, you were burned at the stake.

Mackay: Once you’ve used your conjecture to figure out who’s guilty, what’s the point of hearing them anymore?

Joanna Weiss can be reached at weiss@globe.com.

References