War and Witchcraft

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War and Witchcraft
HIS/113

War and Witchcraft

According to Midelfort, it “is the common claim that it was singularly responsible for the outburst of witch hunting that swept over Europe from the fifteenth through the early-eighteenth centuries” (Para 15). The Malleus Maleficarum is an ideal point in the study of early witch hunts. The Malleus was written by Heinrich Kramer, a Dominican monk, in 1486. That same year, Pope Innocent VII, issued the Bull Summis Desiderantes Affectibus. The Bull Summis literally meant “desiring with supreme ardour.” It was issued to combat “ecclesiastical officials” from hampering Kramer and his colleague Jakob Sprenger in their efforts to combat heresy. According to "Evil-One.org" (2011), instigated severe measures against magicians and witches in Germany which had the immediate desired effect of making the population fearful they were overrun with witchcraft”, (para. 13). With the publication of Innocent’s Bull Summis on his side, Kramer arrested and charged around 50 women with witchcraft. Not only were these women denied any legal counsel, he had them tortures as well. Kramer’s acts were in complete violation of the inquisitorial rules, provoking many to oppose him in Brixen, eventually the trial of the women continued. When Kramer “questioned a defendant about her sexual practices and moral standing in her community, the judges found his query irrelevant and overruled him”, (Thurston). After accusations of the abuse of his authority, Kramer soon lost all credibility. After the trial, Kramer moved from city to city trying to regain his credibility by rewriting the Malleus and trying to pass is off as having been approved by Innocent VIII.

Even though it is difficult to determine the actual impact of the Malleus, later literature drew heavily from its ideas. Kramer’s belief that women were the main targets of the…...

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