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

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About Wicasta

Depending upon whom you ask, Wicasta Lovelace is an author, musician, artist, web designer and/or delusional lunatic (which one he is at any given moment depends upon the day of the week, really). You can find him on Google+, Twitter and Facebook. Wicasta is working on several novels and recording music with his band, Windhaven.
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