Malleus Maleficarum- Prosecution of Witches (1486)
[Original Text in Latin- a guidebook for Inquisitors during the Inquisition, and was designed to aid them in the identification, prosecution, and dispatching of Witches]
The method of beginning an examination by torture is as follows:
First, the jailers prepare the implements of torture, then they strip the prisoner (if it be a woman, she has already been stripped by other women, upright and of good report). This stripping is lest some means of witchcraft may have been sewed into the clothing–such as often, taught by the Devil, they prepare from the bodies of unbaptized infants, [murdered] that they may forfeit salvation.
And when the implements of torture have been prepared, the judge, both in person and through other good men zealous in the faith, tries to persuade the prisoner to confess the truth freely ; but, if he will not confess, he bids attendants make the prisoner fast to the strappado or some other implement of torture. The attendants obey forthwith, yet with feigned agitation.
Then, at the prayer of some of those present, the prisoner is loosed again and is taken aside and once more persuaded to confess, being led to believe that he will in that case not be put to death.
Here it may be asked whether the judge, in the case of a prisoner much defamed, convicted both by witnesses and by proofs, nothing being lacking but his own confession, can properly lead him to hope that his life will be spared–when, even if he confess his crime, he will be punished with death.
It must be answered that opinions vary. Some hold that even a witch of very ill repute, against whom the evidence justifies violent suspicion, and who, as a ringleader of the witches, is accounted very dangerous, may be assured her life, and condemned instead to perpetual imprisonment on bread and water, in case she will give sure and convincing testimony against other witches; yet this penalty of perpetual imprisonment must not be announced to her, but only that her life will be spared, and that she will be punished in some other fashion, perhaps by exile. And doubtless such notorious witches, especially those who prepare witch-potions or who by magical methods cure those bewitched, would be peculiarly suited to be thus preserved, in order to aid the bewitched or to accuse other witches, were it not that their accusations cannot be trusted, since the Devil is a liar, unless confirmed by proofs and witnesses. Others hold, as to this point, that for a time the promise made to the witch sentenced to imprisonment is to be kept, but that after a time she should be burned.
A third view is, that the judge may safely promise witches to spare their lives, if only he will later excuse himself from pronouncing the sentence and will let another do this in his place. . . .
But if, neither by threats nor by promises such as these, the witch can be induced to speak the truth, then the jailers must carry out the sentence, and torture the prisoner according to the accepted methods, with more or less of severity as the delinquent’s crime may demand. And, while he is being tortured, he must be questioned on the articles of accusation, and this frequently and persistently, beginning with the lighter charges-for he will more readily confess the lighter than the heavier. And, while this is being done, the notary must write down everything in his record of the trial–how the prisoner is tortured, on what points he is questioned, and how he answers.
And note that, if he confesses under the torture, he must afterward be conducted to another place, that he may confirm it and certify that it was not due alone to the force of the torture.
But, if the prisoner will not confess the truth satisfactorily, other sorts of tortures must be placed before him, with the statement that, unless he will confess the truth, he must endure these also. But, if not even thus he can be brought into terror and to the truth, then the next day or the next but one is to be set for a continuation of the tortures–not a repetition, for they must not be repeated unless new evidences are produced.
The judge must then address to the prisoners the following sentence: We, the judge, etc., do assign to you,——, such and such a day for the continuation of the tortures, that from your own mouth the truth may be heard, and that the whole may be recorded by the notary.
And during the interval, before the day assigned, the judge, in person or through approved men, must in the manner above described try to persuade the prisoner to confess, promising her (if there is aught to be gained by this promise) that her life shall be spared.
The judge shall see to it, morever, that throughout this interval guards are constantly with the prisoner, so that she may not be left alone; because she will be visited by the Devil and tempted into suicide.
Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger
Date of issue: 1487 [In Latin]
Over 600,000 to 9,000,000 women were killed in the name of which hunt by Inquisition Court of Roman Catholic Church.
THE BULL OF INNOCENT VIII [ 9th December 1408]
Innocent, Bishop, Servant of the servants of God, for an eternal remembrance.
Desiring with the most hearfelt anxiety, even as Our Apostleship requires, that the Catholic faith should especially in this Our day increase and flourish everywhere, and that all heretical depravity should be driven far from the frontiers and bournes of the Faithful, We very gladly proclaim and even restate those particular means and methods whereby Our pious desire may obtain its wished effect, since when all errors are uprooted by Our diligent avocation as by the hoe of a provident husbandman, a zeal for, and the regular observance of, Our holy Faith will be all the more strongly impressed upon the hearts of the faithful.
It has indeed lately come to Our ears, not without afflicting Us with bitter sorrow, that in
some parts of Northern Germany, as well as in the provinces, townships, territories, districts, and dioceses of Mainz, Cologne, Tréves, Salzburg, and Bremen, many persons of both sexes, unmindful of their own salvation and straying from the Catholic Faith, have abandoned themselves to devils, incubi and succubi, and by their incantations, spells, conjurations, and other accursed charms and crafts, enormities and horrid offences, have slain infants yet in the mother’s womb, as also the offspring of cattle, have blasted the produce of the earth, the grapes of the vine, the fruits of the trees, nay, men and women, beasts of burthen, herd-beasts, as well as animals of other kinds, vineyards, orchards, meadows, pasture-land, corn, wheat, and all other cereals; these wretches furthermore afflict and torment men and women, beasts of burthen, herd-beasts, as well as animals of other kinds, with terrible and piteous pains and sore diseases, both internal and external; they hinder men from performing the sexual act and women from conceiving, whence husbands cannot know their wives nor wives receive their husbands; over and above this, they blasphemously renounce that Faith which is theirs by the Sacrament of Baptism, and at the instigation of the Enemy of Mankind they do not shrink from committing and perpetrating the foulest abominations and filthiest excesses to the deadly peril of their own souls, whereby they outrage the Divine Majesty and are a cause of scandal and danger to very many. And although Our dear sons Henry Kramer and James Sprenger, Professors of Theology, of the Order of Friars Preachers, have been by Letters Apostolic delegated as Inquisitors of these heretical pravities, and still are Inquisitors, the first in the aforesaid parts of Northern Germany, wherein are included those aforesaid townships, districts, dioceses, and other specified localities, and the second in certain territories which lie along the borders of the Rhine, nevertheless not a few clerics and lay folk of those countries, seeking too curiously to know more than concerns them, since in the aforesaid delegatory letters there is no express and specific mention by name of these provinces, townships, dioceses, and districts, and further since the two delegates themselves and the abominations they are to encounter are not designated in detailed and particular fashion, these persons are not ashamed to contend with the most unblushing effrontery that these enormities are not practised in these provinces, and consequently the aforesaid Inquisitors have no legal right to exercise their powers of inquisition in the provinces, townships, dioceses, districts, and territories, which have been rehearsed, and that the Inquisitors may not proceed to punish, imprison, and penalize criminals convicted of the heinous offences and many wickednesses which have been set forth.
Accordingly in the aforesaid provinces, townships, dioceses, and districts, the abominations and enormities in question remain unpunished not without open danger to the souls of many and peril of eternal damnation.
Wherefore We, as is Our duty, being wholly desirous of removing all hindrances and obstacles by which the good work of the Inquisitors may be let and tarded, as also of applying potent remedies to prevent the disease of heresy and other turpitudes diffusing their poison to the destruction of many innocent souls, since Our zeal for the Faith especially incites us, lest that the provinces, townships, dioceses, districts, and territories of Germany, which We had specified, be deprived of the benefits of the Holy Office thereto assigned, by the tenor of these presents in virtue of Our Apostolic authority We decree and enjoin that the aforesaid Inquisitors be empowered to proceed to the just correction, imprisonment, and punishment of any persons, without let or hindrance, in every way as if the provinces, townships, dioceses, districts, territories, yea, even the persons and their crimes in this kind were named and particularly designated in Our letters.
Moreover, for greater surety We extend these letters deputing this authority to cover all the aforesaid provinces, townships, dioceses, districts, territories, persons, and crimes newly rehearsed, and We grant permission to the aforesaid Inquisitors, to one separately or to both, as also to Our dear son John Gremper, priest of the diocese of Constance, Master of Arts, their notary, or to any other public notary, who shall be by them, or by one of them, temporarily delegated to those provinces, townships, dioceses, districts, and aforesaid territories, to proceed, according to the regulations of the Inquisition, against any persons of whatsoever rank and high estate, correcting, mulcting, imprisoning, punishing, as their crimes merit, those whom they have found guilty, the penalty being adapted to the offence. Moreover, they shall enjoy a full and perfect faculty of expounding and preaching the word of God to the faithful, so often as opportunity may offer and it may seem good to them, in each and every parish church of the said provinces, and they shall freely and lawfully perform any rites or execute any business which may appear advisable in the aforesaid cases. By Our supreme authority We grant them anew full and complete faculties.
At the same time by Letters Apostolic We require Our venerable Brother, the Bishop of Strasburg (Albrecht von Bayern, 1478-1506 – ed.), that he himself shall announce, or by some other or others cause to be announced, the burthen if Our Bull, which he shall solemnly publish when and so often as he deems it necessary, or when he shall be requested so to do by the Inquisitors or by one of them. Nor shall he suffer them in disobedience to the tenor of these presents to be molested or hindered by any authority whatsoever, but he shall threaten all who endeavour to hinder or harass the Inquisitors, all who oppose them, all rebels, of whatsoever rank, estate, position, pre-eminence, dignity, or any condition they may be, or whatsoever privilege or exemption they may claim, with excommunication, suspension, interdict, and yet more terrible penalties, censures, and punishment, as may seem good to him, and that without any right of appeal, and if he will he may by Our authority aggravate and renew these penalties as often as he list, calling in, if so please him, the help of the secular arm.
Non obstantibus . . . Let no man therefore . . . But if any dare to do so, which God forbid, let him know that upon him will fall the wrath of Almighty God, and of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul.
The Bull of Innocent VIII
Given at Rome, at S. Peter’s, on the 9 December of the Year of the Incarnation of Our Lord
one thousand four hundred and eighty-four, in the first year of Our Pontificate.
OFFICIAL LETTER OF APPROBATION OF THE MALLEUS MALEFICARUM FROM THE FACULTY OF THEOLOGY OF THE
HONOURABLE UNIVERSITY OF COLOGNE
THE official Document of Approbation of the treatise Malleus Maleficarum, and the subscription of the Doctors of the most honourable University of Cologne, duly set forth and recorded as a public documents and deposition.
IN the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen. Know all men by these presents, whosoever shall read, see or hear the tenor of this official and public document, that in the year of our Lord, 1487, upon a Saturday, being the nineteenth day of the month of May, at the fifth hour after noon, or thereabouts, in the third year of the Pontificate of our most Holy Father and Lord, the lord Innocent, by divine providence Pope, the eighth of that name, in the very and actual presence of me Arnold Kolich, public notary, and in the presence of the witnesses whose names are hereunder written and who were convened and especially summoned for this purpose, the Venerable and Very Reverend Father Henry Kramer, Professor of Sacred Theology, of the Order of Preachers, Inquisitor of heretical depravity, directly delegated thereto by the Holy See together with the Venerable and Very Reverend Father James Sprenger, Professor of Sacred Theology and Prior of the Dominican Convent at Cologne, being especially appointed as colleague of the said Father
Henry Kramer, hath on behalf both of himself and his said colleague made known unto us and declared that the Supreme Pontiff now happily reigning, lord Innocent, Pope, as hath been set out above, hath committed and granted by a bull duly signed and sealed unto the aforesaid Inquisitors Henry and James, members of the Order of Preachers and Professors of Sacred Theology, by His Supreme Apostolic Authority, the power of making search and inquiry into all heresies, and most especially into the heresy of witches, an abomination that thrives and waxes strong in these our unhappy days, and he has bidden them diligently to perform this duty throughout the five Archdioceses of the five Metropolitan Churches, that is to say, Mainz, Cologne, Trèves, Salzburg and Bremen, granting them every faculty of judging and proceeding against such even with the power of putting malefactors to death, according to the tenor of the Apostolic bull, which they hold and possess and have exhibited unto us, a document which is whole, entire, untouched, and in no way lacerated or impaired, in fine whose integrity is above any suspicion. And the tenor of the said bull commences thus: “Innocent, Bishop, Servant of the servants of God, for an eternal remembrance. Desiring with the most heartfelt anxiety, even as Our Apostleship requires, that the Catholic Faith should be especially in this Our day increase and flourish everywhere, . . .” and it
Given at Rome, at S. Peter’s, on the 9 December of the Year of the Incarnation of Our Lord one thousand, four hundred and eighty-four, in the first Year of Our Pontificate.”