Mallets Maleficent Heimlich Kramer, a Dominican friar, wrote the Mallets Maleficent in 1486. He believed witches to be “members of a vast conspiracy directed against Christian society that was allowed by God to cause immense physical and spiritual hardship” (Bringer 716). Therefore, Kramer believed the real way to rid witches was through physical eradication. The start of the manuscript came from his experience in witchcraft trials in upper Germany. Crammer’s views on witchcraft and activities weren’t well received wherever he went, articulacy authorities that believed he was merely interfering with the local administration.
Annoyed at the opposition, he obtained papal rights for Pope Innocent Vic’s witchcraft prosecutions through the papal bull Sum MIS desiderated affections in 1484, which gave him authorization for inquisitions against witches throughout German Church provinces. Kramer started his inquisition at Instruct and employed intimidation, brute force and endless forms of torture. Along with this, he denied anyone legal defense and altered the inquisition reports. However, Bishop George II Golfer created a commission to halt Kramer s activities and thereafter liberated all accused women.
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Defeated, Kramer quickly compiled his notes on witches into a manuscript that helped urge the necessity of ridding witchcraft. The Mallets was the result. However, there is still much confusion as to who actually wrote the Mallets and where it was printed. Many scholars believed that Jacob Springer coauthored the work but it turns out that he was one of Crammer’s enemies, constantly trying to suppress his activities and eventually drove him out of Springer province.
Kramer was willing to use any method that served his purpose, as evidenced by contradictions between Incubus’s records and Crammer’s own records. He did everything he can to promote his publication by including the papal bull and going as far as forging the approval of the University of Cologne. Authors like SST. Augustine and SST. Thomas Aquinas were intentionally misquoted and he even emphasized his inquisitorial success at Instruct. The manuscript is littered with grammatical and spelling errors, further indicating his hasty publication that was finished in just 9 months.
His main concerns in the text were female witches, which can be derived from the fact that Christian theology asserted that women were susceptible to temptation by the Devil. These attacks on women included the idea that women has constantly changing opinions that showed less inclination to believe in God and slippery tongues that made them share the craft with friends. Contrasting his views, Springer believed in the “positive aspects of female religious devotion” (Bringer 720).
Rather than questioning the reality of witchcraft, Kramer questioned reality itself and lived deeply in the existence Of demons. Furthermore, he believed that “heresy and apostasy lay at the core of witchcraft” (Bringer 720). Contradictions arise when Kramer states that harmful magic had “no physical agent” and stems from witches that are seduced by demons (Bringer 720). However, if this were the case then witches wouldn’t be able to be tried in court because the witches are not directly causing physical harm.
There are five ideas in the Mallets that can be called original: 1) “witchcraft was a real crime, notes a spiritual one”, 2) it is the worst of all crimes combining heresy, including apostasy and adoration of the Devil”, 3) it’s difficult to trace, therefore “legal inhibitions must be abandoned”, 4) “witches were primarily women”, 5) “secular courts should prosecute the crime” (Bringer 721 ). Bringer hints Crammer’s origin for his ideas came from his belief of women’s susceptibility to the Devil.
This keeps in line with discussion in class that witchcraft is the service to the Devil. He doesn’t state specifically about the pact that is struck with the Devil, but working for the devil implies a endearing belief away from God, a quality that Kramer believes women to possess. This superstition in women can further be emphasized in the belief that women are gullible and weak, which also aids his belief that women can be easily tempted. Also, all witchcraft stems from carnal lust, a quality insatiable to Women.
Based upon Augustine and Aquinas, Kramer gives a conventional description of the crime of witchcraft: ‘ Witches could not themselves harm anyone through magic, but their abilities derived from a contract with a demon, which in turn was empowered by God” (Bringer 720). Although the premise of the contract is not discussed in detail, there is the explicit pact, which may be the literal signing of a contract and specific subjugation to the devil and the implicit pact, which is carried out whenever magic is practiced.
By selling ones soul, one comes under the control of the devil, who is consequently under the control of God. Even though still under God’s ultimate control, allegiance to the devil is very much the opposite of allegiance to God. Since most of the Mallets is composed of unoriginal ideas, it would be important to focus on Crammer’s own ideas. This starts with Crammer’s belief that witchcraft was a real crime and not a spiritual one.
It is difficult to fully grasp this concept because it is demons “who conducted supernatural interventions” which made the witch’s crime “her desire to harm” (Bringer 721 Since the witch is not able to induce harm herself but rather through the demon as a middleman of sorts, there is a grey area between real crime and spiritual crime. As a result, the malicious intention that characterizes witchcraft is then deemed as heresy. Linked to his second idea that witchcraft is the worst of all crimes, Kramer believed that heresy and apostasy go hand in hand when describing witchcraft.
This goes back to the point that women’s susceptibility results from their “vacillating nature?’ that causes them to go astray from the belief of God (Bringer 720). Essentially, “witches intended their harm to be real, although the demons actually did the damage by interfering in the real world in order to deceive the witches” (Bringer 720). Crammer’s third idea built on his previous statements that witchcraft is the worst of crimes and therefore, any legal restrictions must be abandoned since it is extremely difficult to trace.
As this was an unacceptable approach for local authorities, Kramer settled on the claim that witchcraft is an “exceptional crime”, as it is especially evident in his inquisitorial methods of intimidation and various forms of torture (Bringer 721 This is another reason for his hasty compilation of the Mallets in that he viewed apocalyptic theology over the law. As discussed in class, there is a sense of impending end of time. As such, he was led to believe that there are more witches as the end of time nears and the devil is gaining more power.
The explanation for his stems from the idea that God is angry with humankind and therefore gives more leeway to the devil. His fourth idea was concerned with the belief that witches were primarily women (Bringer 721). Crammer’s obsession with female witches can stem from a multitude of reasons including the ease of temptation as stated before. The theory that dates back to the formation of women in the Old Testament states in the Mallets “that there was a defect in the formation of the first woman, since she was formed from a bent rib” (Kramer 43).
Since the bent rib is in “contrary direction to man”, it is believed hat this imperfection causes women to constantly deceive (Kramer 43). Among other reasons discussed in class, it is believed that women know no moderation in goodness and vice and they have weak memories with warped and childlike minds. This can be seen in a multitude of witch trials in which women would describe events that seemed to have happened with no recollection as to whether it is reality or not. With easily warped minds, women stand out as targets for demons looking to employ and enslave them for their wicked doings in the human world.
Lastly, women are highly motional creatures and as such, affections and passions become the basis for their desire to inflict vengeance. Crammer’s last original idea that secular courts should prosecute the crime rather than ecclesiastical courts is highly paradoxical because the secular courts didn’t want to concern themselves with spiritual crimes. However, this follows along with his belief that witchcraft is a real crime, not spiritual, and therefore prosecutions should lie with the secular courts. Until the papal bull of 1484, the Church was never concerned with witchcraft due to the fact that there was no separation of
Church and State before, which meant that a crime against the Church also translated to a crime against the State. However, this becomes a difficult topic because according to Crammer’s idea, witchcraft is the worst of all crimes combining ecclesiastical crimes such as heresy and apostasy with secular crimes like murder and theft. Conclusively, it is surprising that even With much opposition, the Mallets became the chief source of information about witches’ activities that eventually initiated an upsurge of witch trials following the sass’s.