Welcome to WITCH Season on History Witch! I keep starting earlier and earlier every year.
The Malleus Maleficarum, also known the Hammer of the Witches is a handbook for hunting witches. It was written in 1487 by Heinrich Kramer. Heinrich clearly had a very small… uh, sorry, Heinrich was a German churchman and inquisitor. He joined the Dominican Order very young and was considered to be enthusiastic and eloquent (whatever).
This ridiculous publication states that there are 3 qualities that define a witch: the evil intentions of the witch, the help of the devil, and the permission of God. It goes on to describe actual forms of witchcraft, how to confront and combat witchcraft and how to aid inquisitors in abolishing witchcraft.
Also within these pages:
Women are more susceptible to demonic temptations due to the weakness of the gender and because they have a “temperament towards flux” and “loose tongues”.
Witches are guilty of infanticide, cannibalism, having the ability to cause harm to their enemies, and… having the power to steal a man’s penis. Interesting.
Witches interact with demons in a sexual manner and it is quite common for them to “perform filthy carnal acts” with those demons.
There are more atrocious accusations and insane theories, but I’ll spare you. Unfortunately, this book spread rapidly throughout Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries due to the invention of the printing press -and- all the religious turmoil throughout those areas.
Historians believe that Kramer’s ridiculous Malleus Maleficarum was instrumental in generating the witch hunt craze for that time period and responsible for the death of thousands of victims. I’d like to think some of them were lurking by Heinrich Kramer’s bedside as he took his last breath.