Monday, November 10, 2014
Malleus Maleficarum, or a fantasy that will not die
The Malleus Maleficarum (The Hammer of [Female] Evil Doers), written by Kramer and Spengler, is reputed to have served the Offices of the Inquisition in causing many thousands of Witches to be burned. Simply put, none of the above is true. The authorities had much better guidebooks than the Malleus would have been. In fact a more accurate bottom line here would be: The Malleus is nothing more than what the publishing trade calls a one-hander. Anyone who has read it knows that even in its translation, which didn't happen until the 19th century, it would generate very few questions regarding the real beliefs, practices, and activities of people who were accused. The inquisitors had far better guidebooks containing the questions they should ask: books that were continually updated just like a modern company's standard operating procedures. These books were Bernard Gui's Practica officii inquisitoris heretice pravitatis (1324); and Nicholas Eymeric's Directorium inquisitorum (1376). Kramer himself was so lasciviously obsessed by the sex life of young girls that he was dismissed halfway through the second trial he attended as an inquisitor. We always are horrified that people reflexively parrot the tired old unexamined claims about the Malleus without ever approaching the book to see for themselves. Even Dan Brown in his best-selling Da Vinci Code played it back again, in another disappointment to the scholars. And as a sidebar, we do wish that Brown had been ethical enough to acknowledge the fact that he derived the whole idea for the book from Picknett and Prince's Templar Revelation. In fact there was a lawsuit--which Brown lost. Now that you have read this blog, you know better than to commit the same tired old mistake. As a Witch/Wiccan/pagan, do please hold yourself to a higher standard. We refer you to the three-volume exposé of the Inquisition written some time ago by H. C. Lea, Materials toward a History of Witchcraft, Thomas Yoseloff, New York 1957; as well as to Jean Bodin's Demonomania (1530) that King James used to write his Daemonology.