The Malleus Maleficarum: Witchcraft During The Middle Ages

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Witchcraft which was a very ancient thing became linked with heresy during the middle ages. Due to a lack of scientific knowledge natural disasters, sudden deaths, plague, famine and other things that could not be explained were thought to be witchcraft. As Montague Summers stated in his introduction to The Malleus Maleficarum, people needed a way to explain the unexplainable, “Witchcraft was a way for ordinary people to make sense of the world around them.” In the context of the religious reformation the idea of witchcraft became linked with ideas about heresy. Witchcraft and heresy became aligned with Satan. There was little mention of witchcraft in the bible apart from a brief mention of witches in exodus. Exodus 22:18 states; “Thou…show more content…
Conformity was favourable and seen as necessary for social order, as Perez Zagorin mentioned all the Christian dissenting groups (Protestants, Lutherans, Calvinists and Catholics) wanted uniformity, “not only for religion’s sake but for the preservation of political unity and peace.” However there were some who doubted the existence of witches and believed it to be superstition. Those who did not believe were considered to be heretical, in Kramer’s book The Malleus Maleficarum he argued anyone who did not believe was guilty of heresy, “whether the Belief that there are such Beings as Witches is so essential a part of the Catholic faith that obstinacy to maintain the opposite opinion manifestly savours of Heresy.” Therefore the Malleus Maleficarum gave legitimacy to the Inquisition because people were unable to question its credibility for fear they would be branded heretical. One such victim accused of heresy was Balthasar Hubmaier in…show more content…
It acted as the guide to witchcraft, it was a witch finding manual which included the origins of witchcraft, giving methods of identifying witchcraft and also gave instructions to the reader on what to do if you were to discover a witch. Kramer’s ideas on witchcraft were not originally supported and he was even expelled from a diocese in Germany for his views, in his defence he wrote The Malleus Maleficrum. The book was used as a tool for dealing with witchcraft by the inquisitors. It contains three parts, the first chapter asks questions thought to help identify the witch, and included information about Satan, witches and God, the second chapter gave information on how to cure the damage caused by witchcraft in the community and the last section of the book explained the process of trying and executing a witch once they had been

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