The ‘Malleus Maleficarum‘ and the construction of witchcraft, Hans Broedel
Hans Broedel

The ‘Malleus Maleficarum‘ and the construction of witchcraft

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The Malleus is an important text and is frequently quoted by authors across a wide range of scholarly disciplines. Yet it also presents serious difficulties: it is difficult to understand out of context, and is not generally representative of late medieval learned thinking. This, the first book-length study of the original text in English, provides students and scholars with an introduction to this controversial work and to the conceptual word of its authors. Like all witch-theorists, Institoris and Sprenger constructed their witch out of a constellation of pre-existing popular beliefs and learned traditions. Therefore, to understand the Malleus, one must also understand the contemporary and subsequent debates over the reality and nature of witches. This book argues that although the Malleus was a highly idiosyncratic text, its arguments were powerfully compelling and therefore remained influential long after alternatives were forgotten. Consequently, although focused on a single text, this study has important implications for fifteenth-century witchcraft theory. This is a fascinating work on the Malleus Maleficarum and will be essential to students and academics of late medieval and early modern history, religion and witchcraft studies.
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392 printed pages
Original publication
2013

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