Ancillary Text

Britannica Occultism Article Excerpt

In 1484 two Dominican friars, Heinrich Kraemer and Johann Sprenger, induced Pope Innocent VIII to issue a bull authorizing them to extirpate witchcraft in Germany; and two years later these two mean published the Malleus Maleficarum (The Witches’ Hammer), a work that became the authoritative encyclopaedia of demonology throughout Christendom. It was a synthesis of folk beliefs that had hitherto been manifested in local outbursts of witchfinding. Its authority lasted for nearly three centuries, during the time of the European witch mania.

The demonology that the Malleus enshrined became an established and systematized theory attributing witches’ powers to their special links with the devil, especially their sexual relationships with him as incubus (embodiment in masculine form) if they were women or as succubis (embodiment in feminine form) if they were men. Though witches in other societies personify evil in general, in European history they became specifically identified as the earthly representatives of the Prince of Evil.

Encyclopædia Britannica, 15th Edition
Macropædia, Volume 25, Occultism, Pages 94 – 95

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