Malleus Maleficarum

Heinrich Kramer

Malleus Maleficarum, by Heinrich Kramer - click to see full size image

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The Malleus Maleficarum (The Hammer of Witches) was written by the Catholic clergyman Heinrich Kramer and was the most important witchhunter's bible, used by both Catholics and Protestants. First published in 1486, it remained in use for three hundred years and had a tremendous influence in the witch trials in England and on the continent. The book was used as a judicial case-book for the detection and persecution of witches, and elevated sorcery to the status of heresy, which at the time was punished by being burnt at the stake. The author had tried to prosecute witches previously in 1484, and had been kicked out of his city and dismissed as 'senile and crazy'. Undeterred he wrote The Malleus Maleficarum, possibly as an act of revenge and self-justification. The book specifies rules of evidence and the official procedures by which suspected witches were to be tortured and put to death. Thousands of people (mostly women) were murdered as a result of the procedures described in this book, for no reason other than a strange birthmark, living alone, mental illness, cultivation of medicinal herbs, or simply because they were falsely accused.

This book has 176,892 words, 279 pages in the PDF version, and was originally published in 1486. This translation by Montague Summers was published in 1928.

Production notes: This ebook of Malleus Maleficarum was published by Global Grey on the 28th October 2021, and updated on the 20th July 2023. The artwork used for the cover is 'Trial of George Jacobs, August 5, 1692' by Thomkins H. Matteson.

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