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« Fear of Witches? | Main | James Dean James Dean »

December 12, 2007 |Permalink |Comments (0)

Malleus Maleficarum

Real Witchhunts...

"At Baldshut, on the Rhine, in the diocese of Constance, a witch confessed, that offended at not having been invited to the wedding of an acquaintance, she had caused herself to be carried through the air in open daylight to the top of a neighbouring mountain, and there, having made a hole with her hands and filled it with water, she had, by stirring the water with certain incantations caused a heavy storm to burst forth on the heads of the wedding-party; and there were witnesses at the trial who swore they had seen her carried through the air.

"The inquisitors, however, confess that the witches were sometimes carried away, as they term it, in the spirit; and they give the instance of one woman who was watched by her husband; she appeared as if asleep, and was insensible, but he perceived a kind of cloudy vapour arise out of her mouth, and vanish from the room in which she lay—this after a time returned, and she then awoke, and gave an account of her adventures, as though she had been carried bodily to the assembly….

"The witches of the Malleus Maleficarum appear to have been more injurious to horses and cattle than to mankind. A witch at Ravenspurg confessed that she had killed twenty-three horses by sorcery. We are led to wonder most at the ease with which people are brought to bear witness to things utterly beyond the limits of belief. A man of the name of Stauff in the territory of Berne, declared that when pursued by the agents of justice, he escaped by taking the form of a mouse; and persons were found to testify that they had seen him perform this trans-mutation.


"The latter part of the work of the two inquisitors gives minute directions for the mode in which the prisoners are to be treated, the means to be used to force them to a confession, the degree of evidence required for conviction of those who would not confess, and the whole process of the trials. These show sufficiently that the unfortunate wretch who was once brought before the inquisitors of the holy see on the suspicion of sorcery, however slight might be the grounds of the charge, had very small chance of escaping out of their claws.

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