In 1486, two German inquisitors published a treatise on the nature and prosecution of witches: the Malleus Maleficarum or "Hammer of the Witches." This work overturned centuries of Catholic teaching regarding sorcery and witches, turning them into dark agents of evil who drew power from sexual union with the Devil himself. In this episode, we look at the origins of this text and how it led to the deaths of thousands of innocent people in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
Montague Summers' 1928 translation of the Malleus. (Summers was quite a character in his own right, and purportedly believed that the Malleus' claims were accurate. He also wrote histories of vampirism and werewolves, and it seems like he might have believed they were real, too.)
Christopher S. Mackay, trans. The Hammer of Witches: A Complete Translation of the Malleus Maleficarum. Cambridge University Press, 2009.
Hans Peter Broedel. The Malleus Maleficarum and the Construction of Witchcraft: Theology and Popular Belief. Manchester University Press, 2003.
Janine Larmon Peterson, "The Malleus Maleficarum" (introduction and analysis of excerpt) in Milestone Documents of World Religions (2011), 844-59.
Richard Kieckhefer. Magic in the Middle Ages. Cambridge University Press, 2000.
Michael Bailey. Battling Demons: Witchcraft, Heresy, and Reform in the Late Middle Ages. Penn State University Press, 2003.
H. R. Trevor-Roper. The European Witch-Craze of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries and Other Essays. Harper Collins, 1969.
Music: "Evening Melodrama" by Kevin Macleod (www.incompetech.com)