Malleus Maleficarum Essay

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Malleus Maleficarum

Heinrich Kramer, a Dominican friar, wrote the Malleus Maleficarum in 1486. He believed witches to be “members of a vast conspiracy directed against Christian society that was allowed by God to cause immense physical and spiritual hardship” (Behringer 716). Therefore, Kramer believed the real way to rid witches was through physical eradication. The start of the manuscript came from his experience in witchcraft trials in Upper Germany.
Kramer’s views on witchcraft and activities weren’t well received wherever he went, particularly authorities that believed he was merely interfering with the local administration. Annoyed at the opposition, he obtained papal rights for Pope Innocent VIII’s witchcraft prosecutions through
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Linked to his second idea that witchcraft is the worst of all crimes, Kramer believed that heresy and apostasy go hand in hand when describing witchcraft. This goes back to the point that women’s susceptibility results from their “vacillating nature” that causes them to go astray from the belief of God (Behringer 720). Essentially, “witches intended their harm to be real, although the demons actually did the damage by interfering in the real world in order to deceive the witches” (Behringer 720).
Kramer’s third idea built on his previous statements that witchcraft is the worst of crimes and therefore, any legal restrictions must be abandoned since it is extremely difficult to trace. As this was an unacceptable approach for local authorities, Kramer settled on the claim that witchcraft is an “exceptional crime”, as it is especially evident in his inquisitorial methods of intimidation and various forms of torture (Behringer 721). This is another reason for his hasty compilation of the Malleus in that he viewed apocalyptic theology over the law. As discussed in class, there is a sense of impending end of time. As such, he was led to believe that there are more witches as the end of time nears and the devil is gaining more power. The explanation for this stems from the idea that God is angry with humankind and therefore gives more leeway to the devil.
His fourth idea was concerned with the belief that witches were primarily women (Behringer 721). Kramer’s