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It was never my intention when setting out to transcribe the Malleus Maleficarum to write an introduction to the online edition. My intention was to simply. THE HAMMER OF WITCHES. The Malleus Maleficarum, first published in , is the standard medieval text on witchcraft and it remained in print throughout. comptes rendus Mackay, Christopher S. (trans.). he Hammer of Witches: A Complete Translation of the Malleus Maleicarum. New York: Cambridge.
Therefore as it is unlawful to hold that the devil's evil craft can apparently exceed the work of God, so it us unlawful to believe that the noblest works of creation, that is to say, man and beast, can be harmed and spoiled by the power of the devil. Moreover, that which is under the influence of a material object cannot have power over corporeal objects. But devils are subservient to certain influences of the stars, because magicians observe the course of certain stars in order to evoke the devils.
Therefore they have not the power of effecting any change in a corporeal object, and it follows that witches have even less power than the demons possess. For devils have no power at all save by a certain subtle art. But an art cannot permanently produce a true form. And a certain author says: Writers on Alchemy know that there is no hope of any real transmutation.
Therefore the devils for their part, making use of the utmost of their craft, cannot bring about any permanent cure - or permanent disease. But if these states exist it is in truth owing to some other cause, which may be unknown, and has nothing to do with the operations of either devils or witches. But according to the Decretals 33 the contrary is the case. Moreover, the stronger can influence that which is less strong. But the power of the devil is stronger than any human power Job xl.
There is no power upon earth which can be compared to him, who was created so that he fears none. Here are three heretical errors which must be met, and when they have been disproved the truth will be plain.
For certain writers, pretending to base their opinion upon the words of S. Thomas iv, 24 when he treats of impediments brought about by magic charms, have tried to maintain that there is not such a thing as magic, that it only exists in the imagination of those men who ascribe natural effects, the cause whereof are not known, to witchcraft and spells. There are others who acknowledge indeed that witches exist, but they declare that the influence of magic and the effects of charms are purely imaginary and phantasmical.
Moreover, no operation of witchcraft has a permanent effect among us.
And this is the proof thereof: For if it were so, it would be effected by the operation of demons. But to maintain that the devil has power to change human bodies or to do them permanent harm does not seem in accordance with the teaching of the Church.
For in this way they could destroy the whole world, and bring it to utter confusion. Moreover, every alteration that takes place in a human body - for example, a state of health or a state of sickness - can be brought down to a question of natural causes, as Aristotle has shown in his 7th book of Physics. And the greatest of these is the influence of the stars. But the devils cannot interfere with the stars. This is the opinion of Dionysius in his epistle to S.
For this alone God can do. Therefore it is evident the demons cannot actually effect any permanent transformation in human bodies; that is to say, no real metamorphosis. And so we must refer the appearance of any such change to some dark and occult cause. And the power of God is stronger than the power of the devil, so divine works are more true than demoniac operations.
Whence inasmuch as evil is powerful in the world, then it must be the work of the devil always conflicting with the work of God. Indeed, the very title of the Malleus Maleficarum is feminine, alluding to the idea that it was women who were the villains.
Otherwise, it would be the Malleus Maleficorum the masculine form of the Latin noun maleficus or malefica, 'witch'. In Latin, the feminine maleficarum would only be used for women, while the masculine maleficorum could be used for men alone or for both sexes if together. It goes on to give accounts of witches committing these crimes.
Arguments favoring discrimination against women are explicit in the handbook.
Those arguments are not novel but constitute a selection from the long tradition of Western misogynist writings. However, according to Brauner, they are combined to produce new meanings and result in a comprehensive theory.
It mixes elements borrowed from Formicarius , Preceptorium divinae legis and Lectiones super ecclesiastes Everything exists in pairs of opposites: God and Satan, Mary and Eve, and men or virgins and women. Each positive principle in a pair is delineated by its negative pole. Perfection is defined not as the integration or preservation of opposites, but rather as the extermination of the negative element in a polar pair.
Because women are the negative counterpart to men, they corrupt male perfection through witchcraft and must be destroyed. They took place in Ravensburg near Constance and Innsbruck since His position was in harmony with the scholastic theory at the time.
Authors warn of imminent arrival of the apocalypse foretold in the Bible and that men risk bewitchment that leads to impotence and sensation of castration.
But the monastic life is reserved to the spiritually gifted few. Therefore, most women are doomed to become witches, who cannot be redeemed; and the only recourse open to the authorities is to ferret out and exterminate all witches. Strixology in the Malleus Maleficarum is characterized by a very specific conception of what a witch is, one that differs dramatically from earlier times.
The word used, malefica, carries an explicit condemnation absent in other words referring to women with supernatural powers. The conception of witches and of magic by extension is one of evil. It differs from earlier conceptions of witchcraft that were much more generalized.
The witch lost her powerful position vis-a-vis the deities; the ability to force the deities comply with her wishes was replaced by a total subordination to the devil. In short, "[t]he witch became Satan's puppet.
In this conception, a witch was a member of "a malevolent society presided over by Satan himself and dedicated to the infliction of malevolent acts of sorcery maleficia on others.
They interact with witches, usually sexually. The book claims that it is normal for all witches "to perform filthy carnal acts with demons.
The book claims that "the nobility of their nature causes certain demons to balk at committing certain actions and filthy deeds. For example, it devotes large sections to incubi and succubi and questions regarding their roles in pregnancies, the submission of witches to incubi, and protections against them.
Controversies[ edit ] Approbation and authorship[ edit ] Joseph Hansen, a historian who was appalled by the witch-craze and those who carried it out, proposed that coauthorship by Sprenger was a falsehood presented by Institoris Kramer and that approbation is partially a forgery.
The evidence for this is in my view very tenuous and the main argument is clearly invalid. Nonetheless, once the argument was put forward, it took on a life of its own, and people continue to advance arguments in favor of the idea that Sprenger's involvement was a falsification perpetrated by Institoris, despite the fact that this argument was vitiated from the start. In his introduction, he ignores completely the theory that joint authorship or approbation could be a mystification. Nonetheless, he mentions briefly that it was questioned whether Kramer or Sprenger contributed more to the work.