Journal or Book Title
Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft
There is perhaps no historical text more associated in the popular imagination with the horrors of the European witch hunts than the infamous Malleus maleficarum, commonly ascribed to the Dominicans Heinrich Kramer (Institoris) and Jacob Sprenger (in fact much evidence points to Kramer as the sole author). Proclaimed to be the great witch-hunting manual of the late-medieval and early-modern period, the Malleus has been held by some as a definitive statement of authoritative conceptions of witchcraft. In fact, scholars of the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries have long recognized that the Malleus was in many respects an idiosyncratic work, that its influence was far from pervasive, and that its authority was far from absolute. A major goal of Hans Peter Broedel’s study is to modify what may indeed now be an overly developed tendency to argue against the importance of the Malleus and its centrality in the construction of witchcraft. He does not return to any simplistic notion of completely pervasive influence, nor does he claim the Malleus is representative of the all currents of European thought on witchcraft. Rather, by exploring the work’s uniqueness, he seeks to uncover what made it for several centuries such a compelling statement of the idea of witchcraft.
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University of Pennsylvania Press
Bailey, Michael D., "The Malleus Maleficarum and the Construction of Witchcraft: Theology and Popular Belief (review)" (2006). History Publications. 29.