The Malleus Maleficarum
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The Malleus Maleficarum

3.42 of 5 stars 3.42  ·  rating details  ·  683 ratings  ·  81 reviews
The Malleus Maleficarum is one of the best-known treatises dealing with the problem of what to do with witches. The only previous translation into English, that by Montague Summers produced in 1928, is full of inaccuracies, is written in a style nowadays almost unreadable, and is unfortunately colored by his personal agenda. This edited translation, with an introductory es...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published June 15th 2007 by Manchester University Press (first published 1487)
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"Why is your son dressed like a pilgrim?"

"Oh, it's a phase he's going through."

"Why is he piling up all that wood?"

"Oh, it's a...a phase. We're pretty certain it's a phase. You know kids, ha-ha."

"Ha-ha. Why is he tying your youngest, his brother, to a pole? And...a gasoline can? Matches??! Is that a phase, too?"

"No. Witches. You can't suffer them to live."

"I suppose you're right. You can't."

"No. You really can't."

"For a second there..."

"Yeah, I know. But, no. Witch. Well, warlock, to get technic...more
Anastasia Fitzgerald-Beaumont
I’ve cobbled together some thoughts on the Malleus Maleficarum – literally the Hammerer of the Witches - , one of the most infamous texts ever written on the subject of witchcraft. What follows is entirely impressionistic rather than a detailed exposition or a review as such; so please do bear that in mind. Besides, I’m not quite sure that a review of a primary text like this is in any way meaningful.

I’m assuming, though, that most of the people who glance at this article have never actually re...more
Want to get into the filthy minds of 15th century Puritan men who fear women? read this!
Janne Järvinen
The Malleus is often advertized as a "witch hunter's handbook", but it really isn't. It's not about hunting anything. It's not even really about what to do with witches after they're caught. It's really all about the tedious little details of the trial process.

First of all, the introduction is much crazier than the actual book. The translator was a raving lunatic. The first chapters of the actual text make Kramer seem quite a smart fellow, you know, just a victim of the ignorance of his times.

it's difficult to rate this because it's a primary source. I read the Summers edition, the translation is apparently ok, the translator's notes are simply bonkers and best avoided. as for the text itself: it's both nauseating and dull and you probably shouldn't bother to read it unless you have a specific interest in fifteenth century European ecclesiastical jurisprudence, in which case you should definitely read it.
This is the most evil text ever written, a title I had previously reserved for Mien Kampf. It's entire inception was evil, everything in the book itself was evil and may the authors of it be punished for all eternity
Feb 23, 2008 David rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: children under 7.
Oh, come on, sing it with me. (to the tune of Animaniacs.)

We're Kramer
And Sprenger.
We're here to point a finger..........
***Please note I chose note to rate this, as a primary text. It's writings are incredibly valuable in telling the story of tens of thousands of wine , and just in understanding the danger of fear and ignorance. I recommend it to anyone studying or interested in witchcraft trials.

This is a text written to guide in the identification and prosecution of witches in Europe. It's very dark and misogynistic reading. I was fascinated at it's existence, especially that it's one of many.

A "bad reputation...more
Jul 29, 2007 Sandy added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone, especially women
What is written is unconscionable, but the impact of reading this has lasted for years. How do I rate that? Historically interesting, a human rights travesty that's hard to wrap your head around, and an important tool to overcome ignorance. What the review below fails to mention is that some studies estimate that up to 2 million women were killed during the European witch hunts thanks largely to this book.

"The Notorious Handbook Once Used to Condemn and Punish "Witches", by Heinrich Kramer and J...more
It is strange to give this book five stars because it is not really the kind of book you like or dislike; it is a primary source and it is very, very scary in terms of what it has to say about women, about what the church once believed--and what it implies about where some of what the church believes today comes from--and especially when you consider that the guy who edited the English-language version really believed in witchcraft. Nonetheless, I have given it five stars because, as a primary s...more
Shannon Padden
I found this to be a very valuable historical book. If you want to understand what was driving people to make the crazy as* choice they made during the Salem Witch Trials and you're curious about the power that the church had over people during that time you need to read this. It was enlightening.
Gary Bonn
Utterly terrifying for two reasons. First, that people can be killed for crimes that simply can't be committed, and secondly, for the immersion into a world where Heaven was literally above our heads, hell beneath our feet and we lived in a world of demons, angels and magic.
Fun reading for those who hate women. The authors of this 14th Century work were Dominican friars who caused considerable anxiety wherever they ventured in their search for witches, or single women.
This book is a must-read. It's terrifying to contemplate what actually was happening during the witch hunts. It's very important for people to read this work & learn from it.
Michael Lawrie
I have found this book very interesting on multiple levels, but the lesson I took away from it was this: Beware religious books and those without doubt.
This book is infamous on so many levels I find it hard to give a proper review of it. If you are interested in European history, the witch trials, inquisition or just history in general - and if you like non-fiction original works - this might be something of interest.

I won't say that this was easy reading. Not at all. I found it dreary and dry, but I believe it might be partly religious and partly historical writing practice.

This book is divided into three parts; (1) What witches are and whethe...more
Stacey Donovan
This was first published in 1486. I bought my edition in a metaphysical shop and the pages smelled pleasantly of incense, a strong contrast to the content. This is maybe the most hateful and delusional text I've ever read. I knew it would be bad, but wow.

The intro to the 1948 version has a lot of interesting extra history about accusations of witchcraft. Persecution of witches began as early as 200 AD, with lots of supposed witches sold into slavery or executed.

The intro to the 1928 edition is c...more
Linda Munro
A Treatise concerning heresy and witchcraft. This is one of many historical accounts of how religious ferver leans towards demonic control by organized religion.

While I have not researched whether or not Kramer was authorized by the church to write this treatise; I am familiar enough with the mindset of an unscientific community looking to place the blame for everything from draight to disease on the devil or witches.

This book takes a step beyond what one would expect to read concerning the sp...more
Stephen Simpson
A difficult book to evaluate. On one hand, it is an extremely important and influential book within the medieval history of the Catholic Church. On the other hand, it clearly reflects the vile cruelty of the Church at that point in its history. It won't be a page-turner for most people; it is by no means a "handbook for hunting witches" as it is sometimes ridiculously described. Nevertheless, it's an important book and is both clearly written and not difficult to understand.
Well if you're looking for a light-hearted comedy with hints of sexual tension between the two leads, then this is probably not a book you've bought recently.

Seriously though, it is morbidly interesting but Van Helsing you will not be with this book in your arsenal. Instead you will only be better equipped to quote atrocities with your other atheist pals on the internet. We've gotten to the point where we're really beating dead horses with this stuff.

I don't remember if there is a chapter on pr...more
I have only skip read this 700 odd page discussion about the nature of witches and witchcraft. Thank goodness I don't live in the fifteenth century. I would surely burn at the stake even though I have never eaten an infant or deprived a man of his 'member'. Every question it poses is answered with alternative arguments supported by Classical and Biblical references which would I suppose give it some academic credibility, but you know what they say about the devil...
One the one hand, some of the beliefs expressed by the Inquisition in the 1400's about the power of women they branded as witches are laughable in light of the Enlightenment. On the other hand, Those beliefs were held by the princes of Church and state at the time making it an extremely dangerous time in which to live. If the plague didn't get you, or if you didn't die in child birth, as a woman,in all likelihood you would be accused of witchcraft. An accusation was equal to fact. No innocent un...more
Jan Farthing
This book was difficult to read as its full of legal jargon. My feeling of this book is that it says more about the Author at the time of writing than the subject matter!

It is full of ideas on how to manage the problem of Witchcraft in a legal way and puts forth the authors own opinions. I found the book fascinating and highly amusing as the authors have obviously a hatred for women and deems them worthless. There were a few references that called for leniency to these poor women but were short...more
I'm glad I'm reading this, I think it's one of the most misused titles of all times.
I expected a strict religious point of view, and I got a softer, more philosophical side. The two inquisitors actually admit that many so-called witches are just disturbed.
It's a regular essay with a touch of folklore, suitable for the times when it was written. I don't know yet if they will write about tortures, trials or bonfires, but at the moment is not grim at all.
Also, some of the reported stories look like...more
Mayhap it's just this edition, and hopefully it is, as the copy I read was strewn with typos and/or crappy translations.

Overall this was a very disappointing and tedious read.
Steven Mclain
Although translated in a vernacular suited more to the ecclesiastical tradition for which it was written, this book nevertheless maintains the power of 15th century superstition and religious fervor. Though often interspersed with footnotes from the translator, as many of them are in Latin, Greek, or French as they are in English, leaving this book less than readable. Those items aside, the Malleus maintains its position as one of the most important book of the last 500 years, offering keen insi...more
Without question one of the most frightening legal documents ever to have been ratified. Read your translation of choice; it matters very little to all but the medievalist scholar. Simply dreadful, but nevertheless beckons with necessity insofar as it is the most influential formal identification of evil, chiefly in the form of, or greatly abetted by, women that has survived.

I've treated the rating here as a representation of the work's importance in our understanding of the Medieval period and...more
Peter Ivey
Regardless of what one believes about witches or the pursuit of the supernatural, this book fascinates just by the fact that it exists as a historical precis on a controversial subject from its time in history. While the peculiarities formed by a meeting of an analytical mind and a puritanical system of belief are sometimes hard to understand, it is very detailed. It is a fantastic resource for anyone writing about that period in our history, and would be a good primer for anyone wanting to find...more
Newton Newton
The Malleus Maleficarum (or 'With Hammer') is a sort of guidebook written in the late 1400's for the exrpessed purpose of identifying and then prosecutiing witches. It would almost be considered laughable by todays standards if not for the fact that it was actually ratified and put into practice for a number of years. It's an interesting book when looked at for what it is and the context in which it was written. I'd call it a must for anyone with an interest in witchcraft and it's historical imp...more
Lana Bradstream
The book that is guaranteed to be offensive to any woman! Not only did I want to throw rotten tomatoes at the author, but reading the old English legalese made it worse!
I was reading it for research into the book I am currently writing, ETHEREAL INFLUENCE: THE INQUISITION. In that respect, I'm glad I read it, because I was able to get ideas and take some situations in the book in new directions.
So, at least some good did come out of reading this. Although, historically speaking, this is a must...more
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P. G. Maxwell-Stuart is a Research Fellow in the Department of History at the University of Aberdeen and an Honorary Lecturer in the Department of History in the University of St. Andrews.

Source: Macmillan
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