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James Randi Educational Foundation

An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural

Introduction | "R" Reading | Curse of the Pharaoh | End-of-the-World Prophecies

Index | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z

Malleus Maleficarum (“Hammer of Witches”) Two Dominican monks, Heinrich Kramer (1430-1505) and Jacob Sprenger (1436-1495), earned their unenviable place in history by writing this book. It was published, in Latin, in 1486, and became the virtual handbook for witch-hunters. It contains a complex, convoluted discussion of the world of demons and how these infernal beings related to and interacted with humans. The book appeared in three dozen editions and in English, French, German, and Italian.
      The Malleus also gave explicit instructions on how suspected witches were to be discovered, tortured, forced into confession, tried, and executed. It directed, by the procedures outlined, that the accused would eventually be found guilty, regardless of the evidence.
      The book served as a guide to the Holy Inquisition for more than a century.

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