The Malleus Maleficarum, by Heinrich Kramer & James Sprenger

Possibly the world's most popular inclination, the impulse to export your suffering to another seems to be near-universal. Not confined to any race, sex, or age category, the impulse to cause pain appears to well up from deep inside human beings. This is mysterious, because no one seems to enjoy pain when it is inflicted on them. Go figure.

Re: The Malleus Maleficarum, by Heinrich Kramer & James Spre

Postby admin » Thu Feb 26, 2015 8:13 am


Remedies prescribed against Hailstorms, and for Animals that are Bewitched.

With regard to the remedies for betwitched animals, and charms against tempests, we must first note some unlawful remedies which are practised by certain people. For these are done by means of superstitious words or actions; as when men cure the worms in the fingers or limbs by means of certain words or charms, [1] the method of deciding the legality of which has been explained in the preceding chapter. There are others who do not sprinkle Holy Water over bewitched cattle, but pour it into their mouths.

Beside the proofs we have already given that the remedy of words is unlawful, William of Paris, whom we have often quoted, gives the following reason. If there were any virtue in words as words, then it would be due to one of three things: either their material, which is air; or their form, which is sound; or their meaning; or else to all three together. Now it cannot be due to air, which has no power to kill unless it be poisonous; neither can it be due to sound, the power of which is broken by a more solid object; neither can it be due to the meaning, for in that case the words Devil or Death or Hell would always be harmful, and the words Health and Goodness always be beneficial. Also it cannot be due to all these three together; for when the parts of a whole are invalid, the whole itself is also invalid.

And it cannot validly be objected that God gave virtue to words just as He did to herbs and stones. For whatever virtue there is in certain sacramental words and benedictions and lawful incantations belongs to them, not as words, but by Divine institution and ordinance according to God’s promise. It is, as it were, a promise from God that whoever does such and such a thing will receive such and such a grace. And so the words of the sacraments are effective because of their meaning; although some hold that they have an intrinsic virtue; but these two opinions are not mutually inconsistent. But the case of other words and incantations is clear from what has already been said; for the mere composing or uttering or writing of words, as such, can have no effect; but the invocation of the Divine Name, and public prayer, which is a sacred protestation committing the effect to the Divine Will, are beneficial.

We have treated above of remedies performed by actions which seem to be unlawful. The following is a common practice in parts of Swabia. On the first of May before sunrise the women of the village go out and gather from the woods leaves and branches from willow trees, and weave them into a wreath which they hang over the stable door, affirming that all the cattle will then remain unhurt and safe from witchcraft for a whole year. And in the opinion of those who hold that vanity may be opposed by vanity, this remedy would not be unlawful; and neither would be the driving away of diseases by unknown cantrips and incantations. But without meaning and offence, we say that a woman or anyone else may go out on the first or any other day of the month, without considering the rising or the setting of the sun, and collect herbs or leaves and branches, saying the Lord’s Prayer or the Creed, and hang them over the stable door in good faith, trusting to the will of God for their protective efficacy; yet even so the practice is not above reproach, as was shown in the preceding chapter in the words of S. Jerome; for even if he is not invoked, the devil has some part in the efficacy of herbs and stones.

It is the same with those who make the sign of the Cross with leaves and consecrated flowers on Palm Sunday, and set it up among their vines or crops; asserting that, although the crops all round should be destroyed by hail, yet they will remain unharmed in their own fields. Such matters should be decided upon according to the distinction of which we have already treated.

Similarly there are women who, for the preservation of milk and that cows should not be deprived of their milk by witchcraft, give freely to the poor in God’s name the whole of a Sunday’s yield of milk; and say that, by this sort of alms, the cows yield even more milk and are preserved from witchcraft. This need not be regarded as superstitious, provided that it is done out of pity for the poor, and that they implore the Divine mercy for the protection of their cattle, leaving the effect to the good pleasure of Divine providence.

Again, Nider in the First chapter of his Præceptorium says that it is lawful to bless cattle, in the same way as sick men, by means of written charms and sacred words, even if they have the appearance of incantations, as long as the seven conditions we have mentioned are observed. For he says that devout persons and virgins have been known to sign a cow with the sign of the Cross, together with the Lord’s Prayer and the Angelic Salutation, upon which the devil’s work has been driven off, if it is due to witchcraft.

And in his Formicarius he tells that witches confess that their witchcraft is obstructed by the reverent observation of the ceremonies of the Church; as by the aspersion of Holy Water, or the consumption of consecrated salt, by the lawful use of candles on the Day of Purification and of blessed palms, and such things. For this reason the Church uses these in her exorcisms, that they may lessen the power of the devil.

Also, because when witches wish to deprive a cow of milk they are in the habit of begging a little of the milk or butter which comes from that cow, so that they may afterwards by their art bewitch the cow; therefore women should take care, when they are asked by persons suspected of this crime, not to give away the least thing to them.

Again, there are women who, when they have been turning a church for a long while to no purpose, and if they suspect that this is due to some witch, procure if possible a little butter from the house of that witch. Then they make that butter into three pieces and throw them into the churn, invoking the Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and so all witchcraft is put to flight. Here again it is a case of opposing vanity to vanity, for the simple reason that the butter must be borrowed from the suspected witch. But if it were done without this; if with the invocation of the Holy Trinity and the Lord’s Prayer the woman were to commit the effect of the Divine Will, she would remain beyond reproach. Nevertheless it is not a commendable practice to throw in the three pieces of butter; for it would be better to banish the witchcraft by means of sprinkling Holy Water or putting in some exorcised salt, always with the prayers we have mentioned.

Again, since often the whole of a person’s cattle are destroyed by witchcraft, those who have suffered in this way ought to take care to remove the soil under the threshold of the stable or stall, and where the cattle go to water, and replace it with fresh soil sprinkled with Holy Water. For witches have often confessed that they have placed some instrument of witchcraft at the instance of devils, they have only had to make a hole in which the devil has placed the instrument of witchcraft; and that this was a visible object, such as a stone or a piece of wood or a mouse or some serpent. For it is agreed that the devil can perform such things by himself without the need of any partner; but usually, for the perdition of her soul, he compels a witch to co-operate with him.

In addition to the setting up of the sign of the Cross which we have mentioned, the following procedure is practised against hailstorms and tempests. Three of the hailstones are thrown into the fire with an invocation of the Most Holy Trinity, and the Lord’s Prayer and the Angelic Salutation are repeated twice or three times, together with the Gospel of S. John, In the beginning was the Word. And the sign of the Cross is made in every direction towards each quarter of the world. Finally, The Word was made Flesh is repeated three times, and three times, “By the words of this Gospel may this tempest be dispersed.” And suddenly, if the tempest is due to witchcraft, it will cease. This is most true and need not be regarded with any suspicion. For if the hailstones were thrown into the fire without the invocation of the Divine Name, then it would be considered superstitious.

But it may be asked whether the tempest could not be stilled without the use of those hailstones. We answer that it is the other sacred words that are chiefly effective; but by throwing in the hailstones a man means to torment the devil, and tries to destroy his works by the invocation of the Holy Trinity. And he throws them into the fire rather than into water, because the more quickly they are dissolved the sooner is the devil’s work destroyed. But he must commit to the Divine Will the effect which is hoped for.

Relevant to this is the reply given by a witch to a Judge who asked her if there were any means of stilling a tempest raised by witchcraft. She answered: Yes, by this means. I adjure you, hailstorms and winds, by the five wounds of Christ, and by the three nails which pierced His hands and feet, and by the four Holy Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, that you be dissolved and fall as rain.

Many also confess, some freely and some under stress of torture, that there are five things by which they are much hindered, sometimes entirely, sometimes in part, sometimes so that they cannot harm his friends. And these are, that a man should have a pure faith and keep the commandments of God; that he should protect himself with the sign of the Cross and with prayer; that he should reverence the rites and ceremonies of the Church; that he should be diligent in the performance of public justice; and that he should meditate aloud or in his heart on the Passion of Christ. And of these things Nider also speaks. And for this reason it is a general practice of the Church to ring bells as a protection against storms, both that the devils may flee from them as being consecrated to God and refrain from their wickedness, and also that the people may be roused up to invoke God against tempests with the Sacrament of the Altar and sacred words, following the very ancient custom of the Church in France and Germany.

But since this method of carrying out the Sacrament to still a storm seems to many a little superstitious, because they do not understand the rules by which it is possible to distinguish between that which is superstitious and that which is not; therefore it must be considered that five rules are given by which anyone may know whether an action is superstitious, that is, outside the observances of the Christian religion, or whether it is in accordance with the due and proper worship and honour of God, proceeding from the true virtue of religion both in the thoughts of the heart and in the actions of the body. For these are explained in the gloss on Colossians ii, where S. Paul says: Which things have a show of wisdom in superstition; and the gloss says: Superstition is religion observed without due discipline; as was said before.

The first of these is, that in all our works the glory of God ought to be our chief aim; as it is said: Whether ye eat or drink, or whatsoever else ye do, do all in the glory of God. [2] Therefore in every work relating to the Christian religion let care be taken that it is to the glory of God, and that in it man should give the glory chiefly to God, so that by that very work the mind of man may be put in subjection to God. And although, according to this rule, the ceremonies and legal procedures of the Old Testament are not now observed, since they are to be understood figuratively, whereas the truth is made known in the New Testament, yet the carrying out of the Sacrament or of Relics to still a storm does not seem to militate against this rule.

The second rule is that care should be taken that the work is a discipline to restrain concupiscence, or a bodily abstinence, but in the way that is owed to virtue, that is, according to the rites of the Church and moral doctrine. For S. Paul says, Romans xii: Let your service be reasonable. And because of this rule, they are foolish who make a vow not to comb their hair on the Sabbath, or who fast on Sunday, saying, The better the day the better the deed, and such like. But again it does not seem that it is superstitious to carry out the Sacrament, etc.

The third rule is to be sure that what is done is in accordance with the statutes of the Catholic Church, or with the witness of Holy Scripture, or according at least to the rites of some particular Church, or in accordance with universal use, which S. Augustine says may be taken as a law. Accordingly when the Bishops of the English were in doubt because the Mass was celebrated in different manners in different Churches, S. Gregory wrote to them that they might use whatever methods they found most pleasing to God, whether they followed the rites of the Roman or of the Gallican or of any other Church. For the fact that different Churches have different methods in Divine worship does not militate against the truth, and therefore such customs are to be preserved, and it is unlawful to neglect them. And so, as we said in the beginning, it is a very ancient custom in the Churches of France and some parts of Germany, after the consecration of the Eucharist to carry It out into the open; and this cannot be unlawful, provided that It is not carried exposed to the air, but enclosed and contained in a Pyx.

The fourth rule is to take care that what is done bears some natural relation to the effect which is expected; for if it does not, it is judged to be superstitious. On this account unknown characters and suspected names, and the images or charts of necromancers and astronomer, are altogether to be condemned as suspect. But we cannot say that on this account it is superstitious to carry out Holy Relics or the Eucharist as a protection against the plagues of the devil; for it is rather a most religious and salutary practice, since in that Sacrament lies all our help against the Adversary.

The fifth rule is to be careful that what is done should give no occasion for scandal or stumbling; for in that case, although it be not superstitious, yet because of the scandal it should be forgone or postponed, or done secretly without scandal. Therefore if this carrying of the Sacrament can be done without scandal, or even secretly, then it should not be neglected. For by this rule many secular priests neglect the use of benedictions by means of devout words either uttered over the sick or bound round their necks. I say that nothing should be done, at least publicly, if it can give any occasion of stumbling to other simple folk.

Let this be enough on the subject of the remedies against hailstorms, either by words or lawful actions.



1. “Charms.” Cf. Shirley's comedy “The Sisters,” licensed April 1642, where Antonio says to one of the supposed astrologers, III, I:

“You are one of the knaves that stroll the country,
And live by picking worms out of fools' fingers.”

2. “Glory of God.” “I. Corinthians” x, 31.
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Re: The Malleus Maleficarum, by Heinrich Kramer & James Spre

Postby admin » Thu Feb 26, 2015 8:14 am


Certain Remedies prescribed against those Dark and Horrid Harms with which Devils may Afflict Men.

Yet again we reserve our judgement in discussing the remedies against certain injuries to the fruits of the earth, which are caused by canker-worms, or by huge flights of locusts and other insects which cover vast areas of land, and seem to hide the surface of the ground, eating up everything to the very roots in the vineyards and devouring fields of ripe crops. In the same light too we consider the remedies against the stealing of children by the work of devils.

But with regard to the former kind of injury we may quote S. Thomas, the Second of the Second, Question 90, where he asks whether it is lawful to adjure an irrational creature. He answers that it is; but only in the way of compulsion, by which it is sent back to the devil, who uses irrational creatures to harm us. And such is the method of adjuration in the exorcisms of the Church by which the power of the devil is kept away from irrational creatures. But if the adjuration is addressed to the irrational creature itself, which understands nothing, then it would be nugatory and vain. From this it can be understood that they can be driven off by lawful exorcisms and adjurations, the help of the Divine mercy being granted; but first the people should be bidden to fast and to go in procession and practice other devotions. For this sort of evil is sent on account of adulteries and the multiplication of crimes; wherefore men must be urged to confess their sins.

In some provinces even solemn excommunications are pronounced; but then they obtain power of adjuration over devils.

Another terrible thing which God permits to happen to men is when their own children are taken away from women, and strange children are put in their place by devils. And these children, which are commonly called changelings, or in the German tongue Wechselkinder, are of three kinds. For some are always ailing and crying, and yet the milk of four women is not enough to satisfy them. Some are generated by the operation of Incubus devils, of whom, however, they are not the sons, but of that man from whom the devil has received the semen as a Succubus, or whose semen he has collected from some nocturnal pollution in sleep. For these children are sometimes, by Divine permission, substituted for the real children.

And there is a third kind, when the devils at times appear in the form of young children and attach themselves to the nurses. But all three kinds have this in common, that though they are very heavy, they are always ailing and do not grow, and cannot receive enough milk to satisfy them, and are often reported to have vanished away.

And it can be said that the Divine pity permits such things for two reasons. First, when the parents dote upon their children too much, and this a punishment for their own good. Secondly, it is to be presumed that the women to whom such things happen are very superstitious, and are in many other ways seduced by devils. But God is truly jealous in the right sense of the word, which means a strong love for a man’s own wife, which not only does not allow another man to approach her, but like a jealous husband will not suffer the hint or suspicion of adultery. In the same way is God jealous of the soul which He bought with His Precious Blood and espoused in the Faith; and cannot suffer it to be touched by, to converse with, or in any way to approach or have dealings with the devil, the enemy and adversary of salvation. And if a jealous husband cannot suffer even a hint of adultery, how much more will he be disturbed when adultery is actually committed! Therefore it is no wonder if their own children are taken away and adulterous children substituted.

And indeed that it may be more strongly impressed how God is jealous of the soul, and will not suffer anything which might cause a suspicion, it is shown in the Old Law where, that He might drive His people farther from idolatry, He not only forbade idolatry, but also many other things which might give occasion to idolatry, and seemed to have no use in themselves, although in some marvellous way they retain some use in a mystical sense. For He not only says in Exodus xxii: Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live on this earth; but He adds this: She shall not dwell in thy land, lest perchance she cause thee to sin. Similarly common bawds and bulkers are put to death, and not allowed to company with men.

Note the jealousy of God, Who says as follows in Deuteronomy xxii: If thou find a bird’s nest, and the dam sitting upon the eggs or upon the young ones, thou shalt not take the dam with the young, but thou shalt let the dam fly away; because the Gentiles used these to procure sterility. The jealous God would not suffer in His people this sign of adultery. In like manner in our days when old women find a penny, they think it a sign of great fortune; and conversely, when they dream of money it is an unlucky sign. Also God taught that all vessels should be covered, and that when a vessel had no cover it should be considered unclean.

There was an erroneous belief that when devils came in the night (or the Good People [1] as old women call them, though they are witches, or devils in their forms) they must eat up everything, that afterwards they may bring greater abundance of stores. Some people give colour to the story, and call them Screech Owls; but this is against the opinion of the Doctors, who say that there are no rational creatures except men and Angels; therefore they can only be devils.

Again, in Leviticus xix: Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard; because they did this idolatrously in veneration of idols.

Again in Deuteronomy xxii: God says that men shall not put on the garments of women, or conversely; because they did this in honour of the goddess Venus, and others in honour of Mars or Priapus.

And for the same reason He commanded the altars of idols to be destroyed; and Hezechias destroyed the Brazen Serpent when the people wanted to sacrifice to it, saying: It is brass. For the same reason He forbade the observance of visions and auguries, and commanded that the man or woman in whom there was a familiar spirit should be put to death. Such are now called soothsayers. All these things, because they give rise to suspicion of spiritual adultery, therefore, as has been said, from the jealousy which God has for the souls He has espoused, as a husband espouses a wife, they were all forbidden by Him.

And so we preachers also ought to bear in mind that no sacrifice is more acceptable to God than a jealousy of souls, as S. Jerome says in his commentaries upon Ezekiel.

Therefore in the Third Part of this work we shall treat the extermination of witches, which is the ultimate remedy. For this is the last recourse of the Church, to which she is bound by Divine commandment. For it has been said: Ye shall not suffer witches to live upon the earth. And with this will be included the remedies against archer-wizards; since this kind can only be exterminated by secular law.

A remedy. When certain persons for the sake of temporal gain have devoted themselves entirely to the devil, it has often been found that, though they may be freed from the devil’s power by true confession, yet they have been long and grievously tormented, especially in the night. And God allows this for their punishment. But a sign that they have been delivered is that, after confession, all the money in their purses or coffers vanishes. Many examples of this could be adduced, but for the sake of brevity they are passed over and omitted.



1. “Good People.” So in Ireland the fairies are called “good people,” and traditionally seem to be of a benevolent and capricious and even mischievous disposition. In some parts of Highland Scotland fairies are called “daoine sithe” or “men of peace,” and it is believed that every year the devil carries off a tenth part of them.

It will be readily remembered that to the Greeks the Fairies were Image , the gracious goddesses.
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Re: The Malleus Maleficarum, by Heinrich Kramer & James Spre

Postby admin » Thu Feb 26, 2015 8:16 am


Who are the Fit and Proper Judges in the Trial of Witches?

The question is whether witches, together with their patrons and protectors and defenders, are so entirely subject to the jurisdiction of the Diocesan Ecclesiastical Court and the Civil Court so that the Inquisitors of the crime of heresy can be altogether relieved from the duty of sitting in judgement upon them. And it is argued that this is so. For the Canon (c. accusatus, § sane, lib. VI) says: Certainly those whose high privilege it is to judge concerning matters of the faith ought not to be distracted by other business; and Inquisitors deputed by the Apostolic See to inquire into the pest of heresy should manifestly not have to concern themselves with diviners and soothsayers, unless these are also heretics, nor should it be their business to punish such, but they may leave them to be punished by their own judges.

Nor does there seem any difficulty in the fact that the heresy of witches is not mentioned in that Canon. For these are subject to the same punishment as the others in the court of conscience, as the Canon goes on to say (dist. I, pro dilectione). If the sin of diviners and witches is secret, a penance of forty days shall be imposed upon them: if it is notorious, they shall be refused the Eucharist. And those whose punishment is identical should receive it from the same Court. Then, again, the guilt of both being the same, since just as soothsayers obtain their results by curious means, so do witches look for and obtain from the devil the injuries which they do to creatures, unlawfully seeking from His creatures that which should be sought from God alone; therefore both are guilty of the sin of idolatry.

This is the sense of Ezechiel xxi, 23; that the King of Babylon stood at the cross-roads, shuffling his arrows [1] and interrogating idols.

Again it may be said that, when the Canon says “Unless these are also heretics,” it allows that some diviners and soothsayers are heretics, and should therefore be subject to trial by the Inquisitors; but in that case artificial diviners would also be so subject, and no written authority for that can be found.

Again, if witches are to be tried by the Inquisitors, it must be for the crime of heresy; but it is clear that the deeds of witches can be committed without any heresy. For when they stamp into the mud of the Body of Christ, although this is a most horrible crime, yet it may be done without any error in the understanding, and therefore without heresy. For it is entirely possible for a person to believe that It is the Lord’s body, and yet throw It into the mud to satisfy the devil, and this by reason of some pact with him, that he may obtain some desired end, such as the finding of a treasure or anything of that sort. Therefore the deeds of witches need involved no error in faith, however great the sin may be; in which case they are not liable to the Court of the Inquisition, but are left to their own judges.

Again, Solomon showed reverence to the gods of his wives out of complaisance, and was not on that account guilty of apostasy from the Faith; for in his heart he was faithful and kept the true Faith. So also when witches give homage to devils by reason of the pact they have entered into, but keep the Faith in their hearts, they are not on that account to be reckoned as heretics.

But it may be said that all witches have to deny the Faith, and therefore must be judged heretics. On the contrary, even if they were to deny the Faith in their hearts and minds, still they could not be reckoned as heretics, but as apostates. But a heretic is different from an apostate, and it is heretics who are subject to the Court of the Inquisition; therefore witches are not so subject.

Again it is said, in c. 26, quest. 5: Let the Bishops and their representatives strive by every means to rid their parishes entirely of the pernicious art of soothsaying and magic derived from Zoroaster; and if they find any man or woman addicted to this crime, let him be shamefully cast out of their parishes in disgrace. So when it says at the end of c. 348, Let them leave them to their own Judges; and since it speaks in the plural, both of the Ecclesiastic and the Civil Court; therefore, according to this Canon they are subject to no more than the Diocesan Court.

But if, just as these arguments seem to show it to be reasonable in the case of Inquisitors, the Diocesans also wish to be relieved of this responsibility, and to leave the punishment of witches to the secular Courts, such a claim could be made good by the following arguments. For the Canon says, c. ut inquisitionis: We strictly forbid the temporal lords and rulers and their officers in any way to try to judge this crime, since it is purely an ecclesiastical matter: and it speaks of the crime of heresy. It follows therefore that, when the crime is not purely ecclesiastical, as is the case with witches because of the temporal injuries which they commit, it must be punished by the Civil and not by the Ecclesiastical Court.

Besides, in the last Canon Law concerning Jews it says: His goods are to be confiscated, and he is to be condemned to death, because with perverse doctrine he opposed the Faith of Christ. But if it is said that this law refers to Jews who have been converted, and have afterwards returned to the worship of the Jews, this is not a valid objection. Rather is the argument strengthened by it; because the civil Judge has to punish such Jews as apostates from the Faith; and therefore witches who abjure the Faith ought to be treated in the same way; for abjuration of the Faith, either wholly or in part, is the essential principle of witches.

And although it says that apostasy and heresy are to be judged in the same way, yet it is not the part of the ecclesiastical but of the civil Judge to concern himself with witches. For no one must cause a commotion among the people by reason of a trial for heresy; but the Governor himself must make provision for such cases.

The Authentics of Justinian, speaking of ruling princes, says: You shall not permit anyone to stir up your Province by reason of a judicial inquiry into matters concerning religions or heresies, or in any way allow an injunction to be put upon the Province over which you govern; but you shall yourself provide, making use of such monies and other means of investigation as are competent, and not allow anything to be done in matters of religion except in accordance with our precepts. It is clear from this that no one must meddle with a rebellion against the Faith except the Governor himself.

Besides, if the trial and punishment of such witches were not entirely a matter for the civil Judge, what would be the purpose of the laws which provide as follows? All those who are commonly called witches are to be condemned to death. And again: Those who harm innocent lives by magic arts are to be thrown to the beasts. Again, it is laid down that thy are to be subjected to questions and tortures; and that none of the faithful are to associate with them, under pain of exile and the confiscation of all their goods. And many other penalties are added, which anyone may read in those laws.

But in contradiction of all these arguments, the truth of the matter is that such witches may be tried and punished conjointly by the Civil and the Ecclesiastical Courts. For a canonical crime must be tried by the Governor and the Metropolitan of the Province; not by the Metropolitan alone, but together with the Governor. This is clear in the Authentics, where ruling princes are enjoined as follows: If it is a canonical matter which is to be tried, you shall inquire into it together with the Metropolitan of the Province. And to remove all doubt on this subject, the gloss says: If it is a simple matter of the observance of the faith, the Governor alone may try it; but if the matter is more complicated, then it must be tried by a Bishop and the Governor; and the matter must be kept within decent limits by someone who has found favour with God, who shall protect the orthodox faith, and impose suitable indemnities of money, and keep our subjects inviolate, that is, shall not corrupt the faith in them.

And again, although a secular prince may impose the capital sentence, yet this does not exclude the judgement of the Church, whose part it is to try and judge the case. Indeed this is perfectly clear from the Canon Law in the chapters de summa trin. and fid. cath., and again in the Law concerning heresy, c. ad abolendam and c. urgentis and c. excommunicamus, 1 and 2. For the same penalties are provided by both the Civil and the Canon Laws, as is shown by the Canon Laws concerning the Manichaean [2] and Arian heresies. Therefore the punishment of witches belongs to both Courts together, and not to one separately.

Again, the laws decree that clerics shall be corrected by their own Judges, and not by the temporal or secular Courts, because their crimes are considered to be purely ecclesiastical. But the crime of witches is partly civil and partly ecclesiastical, because they commit temporal harm and violate the faith; therefore it belongs to the Judges of both Courts to try, sentence, and punish them.

This opinion is substantiated by the Authentics, where it is said: If it is an ecclesiastical crime needing ecclesiastical punishment and fine, it shall be tried by a Bishop who stands in favour with God, and not even the most illustrious Judges of the Province shall have a hand in it. And we do not wish the civil Judges to have any knowledge of such proceedings; for such matters must be examined ecclesiastically and the souls of the offenders must be corrected by ecclesiastical penalties, according to the sacred and divine rules which our laws worthily follow. So it is said. Therefore it follows that on the other hand a crime which is of a mixed nature must be tried and punished by both courts.

We make our answer to all the above as follows. Our main object here is to show how, with God’s pleasure, we Inquisitors of Upper Germany may be relieved of the duty of trying witches, and leave them to be punished by their own provincial Judges; and this because of the arduousness of the work: provided always that such a course shall in no way endanger the preservation of the faith and the salvation of souls. And therefore we engaged upon this work, that we might leave to the Judges themselves the methods of trying, judging and sentencing in such cases.

Therefore in order to show that the Bishops can in many cases proceed against witches without the Inquisitors; although they cannot so proceed without the temporal and civil Judges in cases involving capital punishment; it is expedient that we set down the opinions of certain other Inquisitors in parts of Spain, and (saving always the reverence due to them), since we all belong to one and the same Order of Preachers, to refute them, so that each detail may be more clearly understood.

Their opinion is, then, that all witches, diviners, necromancers, and in short all who practise any kind of divination, if they have once embraced and professed the Holy Faith, are liable to the Inquisitorial Court, as in the three cases noted in the beginning of the chapter, Multorum querela, in the decretals of Pope Clement [3] concerning heresy; in which it says that neither must the Inquisitor proceed without the Bishop, nor the Bishop without the Inquisitor: although there are five other cases in which one may proceed without the other, as anyone who reads the chapter may see. But in one case it is definitively stated that one must not proceed without the other, and that is when the above diviners are to be considered as heretics.

In the same category they place blasphemers, and those who in any way invoke devils, and those who are excommunicated and have contumaciously remained under the ban of excommunication for a whole year, either because of some matter concerning faith or, in certain circumstances, not on account of the faith; and they further include several other such offences. And by reason of this the authority of the Ordinary is weakened, since so many more burdens are placed upon us Inquisitors which we cannot safely bear in the sight of the terrible Judge who will demand from us a strict account of the duties imposed upon us.

And because their opinion cannot be refuted unless the fundamental thesis upon which it is founded is proved unsound, it is to be noted that it is based upon the commentators on the Canon, especially on the chapter accusatus, and § sane, and on the words “savour of heresy.” Also they rely upon the sayings of the Theologians, S. Thomas, Blessed Albert, and S. Bonaventura, in the Second Book of Sentences, dist. 7.

It is best to consider some of these in detail. For when the Canon says, as was shown in the first argument, that the Inquisitors or heresy should not concern themselves with soothsayers and diviners unless they manifestly savour of heresy, they say that soothsayers and diviners are of two sorts, either artificial or heretical. And the first sort are called diviners pure and simple, since they work merely by art; and such are referred to in the chapter de sortilegiis, where it says that the presbyter Udalricus went to a secret place with a certain infamous person, that is, a diviner, says the gloss, not with the intention of invoking the devil, which would have been heresy, but that, by inspecting the astrolabe, he might find out some hidden thing. And this, they say, is pure divination or sortilege.

But the second sort are called heretical diviners, whose art involves some worship of or subjection to devils, and who essay by divination to predict the future of something of that nature, which manifestly savours of heresy; and such are, like other heretics, liable to the Inquisitorial Court.

And that this is the meaning of the Canon they prove from commentaries of the Canonists on the word “savour.” For Giovanni d’Andrea, writing on this Canon accusatus, and the word “saviour,” says: They savour of heresy in this way, that they utter nefarious prayers and offer sacrifices at the altars of idols, and they consult with devils and receive answers from them; or they meet together to practise heretical sortes, that they may have an answer, re-baptize a child, and practise other such matters.

Many others also they quote in support of their opinion, including John Modestus; S. Raymund, and William de Laudun, O.P. And they refer to the decision of the Church at the Council of Aquitaine, c. 26, q. 5, Episcopi, where such superstitious women are called infidels, saying, Would that these had perished alone in their perfidy. And perfidy in a Christian is called heresy; therefore they are subject to the Court of the Inquisitors of heresy.

They quote also the Theologians, especially S. Thomas, the Second Book of Sentences, dist. 7, where he considers whether it is a sin to use the help of devils. For speaking of that passage in Esaias viii: Should not a people seek unto their God? he says among other things: In everything the fulfilment of which is looked for from the power of the devil, because of a pact entered into with him, there is apostasy from the faith, either in word, if there is some invocation, or in deed, even if there be no sacrifice offered.

To the same effect they quote Albertus, and Peter of Tarentaise, and Giovanni Bonaventura, [4] who has lately been canonized, not under the name of Giovanni, although that was his true name. Also they quote Alexander of Hales and Guido the Carmelite. [5] All these say that those who invoke devils are apostates, and consequently heretics, and therefore subject to the Court of the Inquisitors of heretics.

But the said Inquisitors of Spain have not, by the above or any other arguments, made out a sufficient case to prove that such soothsayers etc. may not be tried by the Ordinary or the Bishops without the Inquisitors; and that the Inquisitors may not be relieved from the duty of trying such diviners and necromancers, and even witches: not that the Inquisitors are not rather to be praised than blamed when they do try such cases, when the Bishops fail to do so. And this is the reason that they have not proved their case. The Inquisitors need only concern themselves with matters of heresy, and the heresy must be manifest; as is shown by the frequently quoted Canon accusatus, § sane.

This being the case, it follows that however serious and grave may be the sin which a person commits, if it does not necessarily imply heresy, then he must not be judged as a heretic, although he is to be punished. Consequently an Inquisitor need not interfere in the case of a man who is to be punished as a malefactor, but not as a heretic, but may leave him to be tried by the Judges of his own Province.

It follows again that all the crimes of invoking devils and sacrificing to them, of which the Commentators and Canonists and Theologians speak, are no concern of the Inquisitors, but can be left to the secular or episcopal Courts, unless they also imply heresy. This being so, and it being the case that the crimes we are considering are very often committed without any heresy, those who are guilty of such crimes are not to be judged or condemned as heretics, as is proved by the following authorities and arguments.

For a person rightly to be adjudged a heretic he must fulfil five conditions. First, there must be an error in his reasoning. Secondly, that error must be in matters concerning the faith, either being contrary to the teaching of the Church as to the true faith, or against sound morality and therefore not leading to the attainment of eternal life. Thirdly, the error must lie in one who has professed the Catholic faith, for otherwise he would be a Jew or a Pagan, not a heretic. Fourthly, the error must be of such a nature that he who holds it must confess some of the truth of Christ as touching either His Godhead or His Manhood; for is a man wholly denies the faith, he is an apostate. Fifthly, he must pertinaciously and obstinately hold to and follow that error. And that this is the sense of heretics is proved as follows (not by way of refuting, but of substantiating the gloss of the Canonists).

For it is well known to all through common practice that the first essential of a heretic is an error in the understanding; but two conditions are necessary before a man can be called a heretic; the first material, that is, an error in reasoning, and the second formal, that is, an obstinate mind. S. Augustine shows this when he says: A heretic is one who either initiates or follows new and false opinions. It can also be proved by the following reasoning: heresy is a form of infidelity, and infidelity exists subjectively in the intellect, in such a way that a man believes something which is quite contrary to the true faith.

This being so, whatever crime a man commits, if he acts without an error in his understanding he is not a heretic. For example, if a man commits fornication or adultery, although he is disobeying the command Thou shalt not commit adultery, yet he is not a heretic unless he holds the opinion that it is lawful to commit adultery. The point can be argued in this way: When the nature of a thing is such that two constituent parts are necessary to its existence, if one of those two parts is wanting the thing itself cannot exist; for if it could, then it would not be true that that part is necessary to its existence. For in the constitution of a house it is necessary that there should be a foundation, walls, and a roof; and if one of these is missing, there is no house. Similarly, since an error in the understanding is a necessary condition of heresy, no action which is done entirely without any such error can make a man a heretic.

Therefore we Inquisitors of Germany are in agreement with Blessed Antoninus where he treats of this matter in the second part of his Summa; saying that to baptize things, to worship devils, to sacrifice to them, to tread underfoot the Body of Christ, and all such terrible crimes, do not make a man a heretic unless there is an error in his understanding. Therefore a man is not a heretic who, for example, baptizes an image, not holding any erroneous belief about the Sacrament of Baptism or its effect, nor thinking that the baptism of the image can have any effect of its own virtue; but does this in order that he may more easily obtain some desire from the devil whom he seeks to please by this means, acting with either an implied or an expressed pact that the devil will fulfil the desires either of himself or of someone else. In this way men who, with either a tacit or an expressed pact, invoke devils with characters and figures in accordance with magic practice to perform their desires are not necessarily heretics. But they must not ask from the devil anything which is beyond the power or the knowledge of the devil, having a wrong understanding of his power and knowledge. Such would be the case with any who believed that the devil could coerce a man’s free will; or that, by reason of their pact with him, the devil could do anything which they desired, however much it were forbidden by God; or that the devil can know the whole of the future; or that he can effect anything which only God can do. For there is no doubt that men with such beliefs have an error in their understanding, holding a wrong opinion of the power of the devil; and therefore, granting the other conditions necessary for heresy, they would be heretics, and would be subject at once to the Ordinary and to the Inquisitorial Court.

But if they act for the reasons we have said, not out of any wrong belief concerning baptism or the other matters we have mentioned, as they very commonly do; for since witches and necromancers know that the devil is the enemy of the faith and the adversary of salvation, it must follow that they are compelled to believe in their hearts that there is great might in the faith and that there is no false doctrine of which the father of lies is not known to be the origin; then, although they sin most grievously, yet they are not heretics. And the reason is that they have no wrong belief concerning the sacrament, although they use it wrongly and sacrilegiously. Therefore they are rather sorcerers than heretics, and are to be classed with those whom the above Canon accusatus declares are not properly subject to the Inquisitorial Court, since they do not manifestly savour of heresy; their heresy being hidden, if indeed it exists at all.

It is the same with those who worship and sacrifice to the devil. For if they do this in the belief that there is any divinity in devils, or that they ought to be worshipped and that, by reason of such worship, that can obtain from the devil what they desire in spite of the prohibition or permission of God, then they are heretics. But if they act in such a way not out of any such belief concerning the devil, but so that they may the more easily obtain their desires because of some pact formed with the devil, then they are not necessarily heretics, although they sin most grievously.

For greater clearness, some objections are to be disposed of and refuted. For it appears to be against our argument that, according to the laws, a simonist is not a heretic (1, q. 1: “Whoever by means of money, but not having an error of the understanding”). For a simonist is not in the narrow and exact sense of the word a heretic; but broadly speaking and by comparison he is so, according to S. Thomas, when he buys or sells holy things in the belief that the gift of grace can be had for money. But if, as is often the case, he does not act in this belief, he is not a heretic. Yet he truly would be if he did believe that the gift of grace could be had for money.

Again we are apparently in opposition to what is said of heretics in the Canon; namely, that he who reveres a heretic is himself a heretic, but he who worships the devil sins more heavily than he who reveres a heretic, therefore, etc.

Also, a man must be obviously a heretic in order that he may be judged as such. For the Church is competent to judge only of those things which are obvious, God alone having knowledge and being the Judge of that which is hidden (dist. 33, erubescant). But the inner understanding can only be made apparent by intrinsic actions, either seen or proved; therefore a man who commits such actions as we are considering is to be judged a heretic.

Also, it seems impossible that anyone should commit such an action as the treading underfoot of the Body of Christ unless he held a wrong opinion concerning the Body of Christ; for it is impossible for evil to exist in the will unless there is error in the understanding. For according to Aristotle every wicked man is either ignorant or in error. Therefore, since they who do such things have evil in their wills, they must have an error in their understandings.

To these three objections we answer as follows; and the first and third may be considered together. There are two kinds of judgement, that of God and that of men. God judges the inner man; whereas man can only judge of the inner thoughts as they are reflected by outer actions, as is admitted in the third of these arguments. Now he who is a heretic in the judgement of God is truly and actually a heretic; for God judges no one as a heretic unless he has some wrong belief concerning the faith in his understanding. But when a man is a heretic in the judgement of men, he need not necessarily be actually a heretic; but because his deeds give an appearance of a wrong understanding of the faith he is, by legal presumption, considered to be a heretic.

And if it be asked whether the Church should stigmatize at once as heretics those who worship devils or baptize imagines, note these answers. First, it belongs rather to the Canonists than to the Theologians to discriminate in this matter. The Canonists will say that they are by legal presumption to be considered as heretics, and to be punished as such. A Theologian will say that it is in the first instance a matter for the Apostolic See to judge whether a heresy actually exists or is only to be presumed in law. And this may be because whenever an effect can proceed from a twofold cause, no precise judgement can be formed of he actual nature of the cause merely on the basis of the effect.

Therefore, since such effects as the worship of the devil or asking his help in the working of witchcraft, by baptizing an image, or offering to him a living child, or killing an infant, and other matters of this sort, can proceed from two separate causes, namely, a belief that it is right to worship the devil and sacrifice to him, and that images can receive sacraments; or because a man has formed some pact with the devil, so that he may obtain the more easily from the devil that which he desires in those matters which are not beyond the capacity of the devil, as we have explained above; it follows that no one ought hastily to form a definite judgement merely on the basis of the effect as to what is its cause, that is, whether a man does such things out of a wrong opinion concerning the faith. So when there is no doubt about the effect, still it is necessary to inquire farther into the cause; and if it be found that a man has acted out of a perverse and erroneous opinion concerning the faith, then he is to be judged a heretic and will be subject to trial by the Inquisitors together with the Ordinary. But if he has not acted for these reasons, he is to be considered a sorcerer, and a very vile sinner.

Another answer which touches the matter nearly is that, whatever may be said and alleged, it is agreed that all diviners and witches are judged as heretics by legal presumption and not by actual fact are subject to the Court of the Ordinary, not of the Inquisitors. And the aforesaid Inquisitors of other countries cannot defend their opinions by quoting the Canon and its commentators, because they who sacrifice to and worship devils are judged to be heretics be legal presumption, and not because the facts obviously show that they are such. For the text says that they must savour of heresy manifestly, that is, intrinsically and by their very nature. And it is enough for us Inquisitors to concern ourselves with those who are manifestly from the instrinsic nature of the case heretics, leaving others to their own judges.

It has been said that the cause must be inquired into, to know whether or not a man acts out of an error of faith; and this is easy. For the spirit of faith is known by the act of faith; as the spirit of chastity is shown by a chaste life; similarly the Church must judge a man a heretic if his actions show that he disputes any article of the faith. In this way even a witch, who has wholly or in part denied the faith, or used vilely the Body of Christ, and offered homage to the devil, may have done this merely to propitiate the devil; and even if she has totally denied the faith in her heart, she is to be judged as an apostate, for the fourth condition, which is necessary before anyone can rightly be said to be a heretic, will be wanting.

But if against this conclusion be set the Bull and commission given to us by our Holy Father Innocent VIII, that witches should be tried by the Inquisitors, we answer in this way. That this is not to say that the Diocesans also cannot proceed to a definite sentence against witches, in accordance with those ancient laws, as has been said. For that Bull was rather given to us because of the great care with which we have wrought to the utmost of our ability with the help of God.

Therefore we cannot concede to those other Inquisitors their first argument, since the contrary conclusion is rather the true one; for simonists are thought to be heretics only be legal presumption, and the Ordinaries themselves without the Inquisitors can try them. Indeed, the Inquisitors have no need to concern themselves with various simonists, or similarly with any others who are judged to be heretics only by legal presumption. For they cannot proceed against schismatic Bishops and other high Dignitaries, as is shown by the chapter of the Inquisition Concerning Heretics, Book VI, where is says: The Inquisitors of the sin of heresy deputed by the Apostolic See or by any other authority have no power to try such offenders on this sort of charge, or to proceed against them under pretext of their office, unless it is expressly stated in the letters of commission from the Apostolic See that they are empowered to do so.

But if the Inquisitors know or discover that Bishops or other high Dignitaries have been charged with heresy, or have been denounced or suspected of that crime, it is their duty to report the fact to the Apostolic See.

Similarly the answer to their second argument is clear from what has been said. For he who cherishes and comforts a heretic is himself a heretic if he does this in the belief that he is worthy to be cherished or honoured on account of his doctrine or opinion. But if he honours him for some temporal reason, without any error of faith in his understanding, he is not rightly speaking a heretic, though he is so by a legal fiction or presumption or comparison, because he acts as if he held a wrong belief concerning the faith like him whom he cherishes: so in this case he is not subject to the Inquisitorial Court.

The third argument is similarly answered. For though a man should be judged by the Church as a heretic on account of his outward actions, visible and proved, yet it does not always follow that he is actually a heretic, but is only so reputed by legal presumption. Therefore in this case he is not liable to be tried by the Inquisitorial Court, because he does not manifestly savour of heresy.

For their fourth argument, it is a false assumption to say that it is not possible for anyone to tread underfoot the Body of Christ unless he has some perverse and wrong belief concerning the Body of Christ. For a man may do this with a full knowledge of his sin, and with a firm belief that the Body of Christ is truly there. But he does it to please the devil, and that he may more easily obtain his desire from him. And though in every sin there is an error, it need not necessarily be an error of the understanding, which is heresy or a wrong belief concerning the faith; for it may be an erroneous use of some power which turns it to vicious purposes; and then it will only be the first of those five conditions which are necessary constituents of heresy, in accordance with which a heretic is rightly liable to the Inquisitorial Court.

And it is not a valid objection to say that an Inquisitor may, nevertheless, proceed against those who are denounced as heretics, or are under a light or a strong or a grave suspicion of heresy, although they do not appear to savour manifestly of heresy. For we answer that an Inquisitor may proceed against such in so far as they are denounced or suspected for heresy rightly so called; and this is the sort of heresy of which we are speaking (as we have often said), in which there is an error in the understanding, and the other four conditions are superadded. And the second of these conditions is that such error should consist in matters concerning the faith, or should be contrary to the true decisions of the Church in matters of faith and good behaviour and that which is necessary for the attainment of eternal life. For if the error be in some matter which does not concern the faith, as, for example, a belief that the sun is not greater than the earth, or something of that sort, then it is not a dangerous error. But an error against Holy Scripture, against the articles of the faith, or against the decision of the Church, as has been said above, is heresy (art. 24, q. 1, haec est fides).

Again, the determination of doubts respecting the faith belongs chiefly to the Church, and especially to the Supreme Pontiff, Christ’s Vicar, the successor of S. Peter, as is expressly stated (art. 24, q. 1, quotiens). And against the determination of the Church, as S. Thomas says, art. 2, q. 2, no Doctor or Saint maintains his own opinion; not S. Jerome nor S. Augustine nor any other. For just as he who obstinately argues against the faith is a heretic, so also is he who stubbornly maintains his opinion against the determination of the Church in matters concerning the faith and that which is necessary for salvation. For the Church herself has never been proved to be in error over matter of faith (as it is said in art. 24, q. 1, a recta, and in other chapters). And it is expressly said, that he who maintains anything against the determination of the Church, not in an open and honest manner, but in matters which concern faith and salvation, is a heretic. For he need not be a heretic because he disagrees over other matters, such as the separability of law from use in matters which are affected by use: this matter has been settled by Pope John XXII in his Extrauagantes, [6] where he says that they who contradict this opinion are stubborn and rebellious against the Church, but not heretics.

The third condition required is that he who holds the error should be one who has professed the Catholic faith. For is a man has never professed the Christian faith, he is not a heretic but simply an infidel, like the Jews or the Gentiles who are outside the faith. Therefore S. Augustine says in the City of God: The devil, seeing the human race to be delivered from the worship of idols and devils, stirred up heretics who, under the guise of Christians, should oppose Christian doctrine. So for a man to be a heretic it is necessary that he should have received the Christian faith in baptism.

Fourthly, it is necessary that the man who so errs should retain some of the true belief concerning Christ, pertaining either to His divinity or to His humanity. For if he retains no part of the faith, he is more rightly to be considered an apostate than a heretic. In this way Julian was an apostate. For the two are quite different, though sometimes they are confused. For in this manner there are found to be men who, driven by poverty and various afflictions, surrender themselves body and soul to the devil, and deny the faith, on condition that the devil will help them in their need to the attainment of riches and honours.

For we Inquisitors have known some, of whom a few afterwards repented, who have behaved in this way merely for the sake of temporal gain, and not through any error in the understanding; wherefore they are not rightly heretics, nor even apostates in their hearts, as was Julian, though they must be reckoned as apostates.

They who are apostates in their heart and refuse to return to the faith are, like impenitent heretics, to be delivered to the secular Court. But if they are desirous of reconciliation, they are received back into the Church, like penitent heretics. See the chapter ad abolendam, § praesenti, de haeretic., lib. 6. Of the same opinion is S. Raymund in his work de Apostolica, cap. reuertentes, where he says that they who return from the perfidy of apostasy, though they were heretics, are to be received back like penitent heretics. And here the two are confused, as we have said. And he adds: Those who deny the faith through fear of death (that is, who deny the faith for the sake of temporal gain from the devil, but do not believe their error) are heretics in the sight of the law, but are not, properly speaking, heretics. And he adds: Although they have no erroneous belief, yet since the Church must judge by outward signs they are to be considered as heretics (not this fiction of law); and if they return, they are to be received as penitent heretics. For the fear of death, or the desire for temporal gain, is not sufficient to cause a constant man to deny the faith of Christ. Wherefore he concludes that it is more holy to die than to deny the faith or to be fed by idolatrous means, as S. Augustine says.

The judgement of witches who deny the faith would be the same; that when they wish to return they should be received as penitents, but otherwise they should be left to the secular Court. But they are by all means to be received back into the bosom of the Church when they repent; and are left to the secular Court if they will not return; and this is because of the temporal injuries which they cause, as will be shown in the methods of passing sentence. And all this may be done by the Ordinary, so that the Inquisitor can leave his duties to him, at least in a case of apostasy; for it is otherwise in other cases of sorcerers.

The fifth condition necessary for a man to be rightly thought a heretic is that he should obstinately and stubbornly persist in his error. Hence, according to S. Jerome, the etymological meaning of heresy is Choice. And again S. Augustine says: Not he who initiates or follows false doctrines, but he who obstinately defends them, is to be considered a heretic. Therefore if anyone does not evilly persist in believing some false doctrine, but errs through ignorance and is prepared to be corrected and to be shown that his opinion is false and contrary to Holy Scripture and the determination of the Church, he is not a heretic. For he was ready to be corrected when his error was pointed out to him. And it is agreed that every day the Doctors have various opinions concerning Divine matters, and sometimes they are contradictory, so that one of them must be false; and yet none of them are reputed to be false until the Church has come to a decision concerning them. See art. 24, q. 3, qui in ecclesia.

From all this is is concluded that the sayings of the Canonists on the words “savour manifestly of heresy” in the chapter accusatus do not sufficiently prove that witches and others who in any way invoke devils are subject to trial by the Inquisitorial Court; for it is only by a legal fiction that they judge such to be heretics. Neither is it proved by the words of the Theologians; for they call such persons apostates either in word or in deed, but not in their thoughts and their hearts; and it is of this last error that the words “savour of heresy” speak.

And though such persons should be judged to be heretics, it does not follow form this that a Bishop cannot proceed against them without an Inquisitor to a definite sentence, or punish them with imprisonment or torture. More than this, even when this decision does not seem enough to warrant the exemption of us Inquisitors from the duty of trying witches, still we are unwilling to consider that we are legally compelled to perform such duties ourselves, since we can depute the Diocesans to our office, at least in respect of arriving at a judgement.

For this provision is made in the Canon Law (c. multorum in prin. de haeret. in Clem.). There it says: As a result of a general complaint, and that this sort of Inquisition may proceed more fortunately and the inquiry into this crime be conducted more skilfully, diligently, and carefully, we order that this kind of case may be tried by the Diocesan Bishops as well as by the Inquisitors deputed by the Apostolic See, all carnal hatred or fear or any temporal affection of this sort being put aside; and so either of the above may move without the other, and arrest or seize a witch, placing her in safe custody in fetters and iron chains, if it seems good to him; and in this matter we leave the conduct of the affair to his own conscience; but there must be no negligence in inquiring into such matters in a manner agreeable to God and justice; but such witches must be thrust into prison rather as a matter of punishment than custody, or be exposed to torture, or be sentenced to some punishment. And a Bishop can proceed without an Inquisitor, or an Inquisitor without a Bishop; or, if either of their offices be vacant, their deputies may act independently of each other, provided that is is impossible for them to meet together for joint action within eight days of the time when the inquiry is due to commence; but if there be no valid reason for their not meeting together, the action shall be null and void in law.

The chapter proceeds to support our contention as follows: But if the Bishop or the Inquisitor, or either of their deputies, are unable or unwilling, for any of the reasons which we have mentioned, to meet together personally, they can severally depute their duties to each other, or else signify their advice and approval by letters.

From this it is clear that even in those cases where the Bishop is not entirely independent of the Inquisitor, the Inquisitor can depute the Bishop to act in his stead, especially in the matter of passing sentence: therefore we ourselves have decided to act according to this decision, leaving other Inquisitors to other districts to act as seems good to them.

Therefore in answer to the arguments, it is clear that witches and sorcerers have not necessarily to be tried by the Inquisitors. But as for the other arguments which seek to make it possible for the Bishops in their turn to be relieved from the trial of witches, and leave this to the Civil Court, it is clear that this is not so easy in their case as it is in that of the Inquisitors. For the Canon Law (c. ad abolendam, c. uergentis, and c. excommunicamus utrumque) says that in a case of heresy it is for the ecclesiastical judge to try and to judge, but for the secular judge to carry out the sentence and to punish; that is, when a capital punishment is in question, though it is otherwise with other penitential punishments.

It seems also that in the heresy of witches, though not in the case of other heresies, the Diocesans also can hand over to the Civil Courts the duty of trying and judging, and this for two reasons: first because, as we have mentioned in our arguments, the crime of witches is not purely ecclesiastical, being rather civil on account of the temporal injuries which they commit; and also because special laws are provided for dealing with witches.

Finally, it seems that in this way it is easiest to proceed with the extermination of witches, and that the greatest help is thus given to the Ordinary in the sight of that terrible Judge who, as the Scriptures testify, will exact the strictest account from and will most hardly judge those who have been placed in authority. Accordingly we will proceed on this understanding, namely, that the secular Judge can try and judge such cases, himself proceeding to the capital punishment, but leaving the imposition of any other penitential punishment to the Ordinary.

A Summary or Classification of the Matters Treated of in this Third Part.

In order, then, that the Judges both ecclesiastical and civil may have a ready knowledge of the methods of trying, judging and sentencing in these cases, we shall proceed under three main heads. First, the method of initiating a process concerning matters of the faith; second, the method of proceeding with the trial; and third, the method of bringing it to a conclusion and passing sentence on witches.

The first head deals with five difficulties. First, which of the three methods of procedure provided by the law is the most suitable. Second, the number of witnesses. Third, whether these can be compelled to take the oath. Fourth, the condition of the witnesses. Fifth, whether mortal enemies may be allowed to give evidence.

The second head contained eleven Questions. I. How witnesses are to be examined, and that there should always be five persons present. Also how witches are to be interrogated, generally and particularly. (This will be numbered the Sixth Question of the whole Part; but we alter the numeration here to facilitate reference by the reader). II. Various doubts are cleared up as to negative answers, and when a witch is to be imprisoned, and when she is to be considered as manifestly guilty of the heresy of witchcraft. III. The method of arresting witches. IV. Of two duties which devolve upon the Judge after the arrest, and whether the names of the deponents should be made known to the accused. V. Of the conditions under which an Advocate shall be allowed to plead for the defence. VI. What measures the Advocate shall take when the names of the witnesses are not made known to him, and when he wishes to protest to the Judge that the witnesses are mortal enemies of the prisoner. VII. How the Judge ought to investigate the suspicion of such mortal enmity. VIII. Of the points which the Judge must consider before consigning the prisoner to torture. IX. Of the method of sentencing the prisoner to examination by torture. X. Of the method of proceeding with the torture, and how they are to be tortured; and of the provisions against silence on the part of the witch. XI. Of the final interrogations and precautions to be observed by the Judge.

The third head contains first of all three Questions dealing with matters which the Judge must take into consideration, on which depends the whole method of passing sentence. First, whether a prisoner can be convicted by a trial of red-hot iron. Second, of the method in which all sentences should be passed. Third, what degrees of suspicion can justify a trial, and what sort of sentence ought to be passed in respect of each degree of suspicion. Finally, we treat of twenty methods of delivering sentence, thirteen of which are common to all kinds of heresy, and the remainder particular to the heresy of witches. But since these will appear in their own places, for the sake of brevity they are not detailed here.



1. “Arrows.” Esarhaddon is employing a mode of sortilege by arrows, belomancy, which was extensively practised among the Chaldeans, as also among the Arabs. Upon this text S. Jerome comments: “He shall stand in the highway, and consult the oracle after the manner of his nation, that he may cast arrows into a quiver, and mix them together, being written upon or marked with the names of each people, that he may see whose arrow will come forth, and which city he ought first to attack.” The arrows employed by the Arabs were often three in number, upon the first of which was inscribed, “My Lord hath commanded me”; upon the second, “My Lord hath forbidden me”; and the third was blank. If the inquirer drew the first it was an augury of success; the second gave an omen of failure; if the third were drawn, all three were mixed again and another trial was made. In some countries diving rods were employed instead of arrows. These were drawn from a vessel, or, it might be, cast into the air, the position in which they fell being carefully noted. This practice is rhabdomancy. The LXX, “Ezechiel” xxi, 21, reads Image , not Image, and rhabdomancy is mentioned by S. Cyril of Alexandria. The “Koran,” V, forbids prognostication by divining arrows, which are there denounced as “an abomination of the work of Satan.” See my “History of Witchcraft,” Chap. V, pp. 182-83.

2. “Manichaean.” For the close connexion between the Manichees and witches see my “History of Witchcraft,” Chap. I.

3. “Pope Clement.” Pope Clement V, born at Villandraut, 1264; elected to the Chair of S. Peter, 5 June, 1305; died at Roquemare, 20 April, 1314; completed the mediaeval “Corpus Iuris Canonici” by the publication of a collection of papal decretals known as “Clementinae” or “Liber Clementinarum,” sometimes as “Liber Septimus” in reference to “Liber Sextus” of Bonafice VIII. It contains decretals of this latter Pontiff, of Benedict XI, and of Clement himself. Together with the decrees of the Council of Vienne it was promulgated, 12 March, 1314, at the Papal residence of Monteaux near Carpentras. It is divided into five books with subdivisions of titles and chapters. As Clement V died before the collection had been generally published, John XXII promulgated it anew, 25 October, 1317, and sent it to the University of Bologna as the authorative Corpus of decretals to be used in the courts and schools.

4. “Bonaventura.” The parents of S. Bonaventura were Giovanni di Fidanze and Maria Ritella. He was born at Bagnorea, near Viterbo, in 1221, and baptized Giovanni. This was changed to Bonaventura owing to the exclamation of S. Francis, “O buona ventura,” when the child was brought to him to be cured of a dangerous illness. (This account has been doubted, and it is true that others bore the name before S. Bonaventura.) S. Bonaventura was canonized by Sixtus IV, 14 April, 1482. This formal enrolment in the catalogue of the Saints was thus long delayed mainly owing to the unfortunate dissensions concerning Franciscan affairs after the Saint's death, 15 July, 1274. He was inscribed among the principal Doctors of the Church by Sixtus V, 14 March, 1587. His feast is celebrated 14 July.

5. “Guido the Carmelite.” Guy de Perpignan, “Doctor PArisiensis,” d. 1342; General of the Carmelite Order from 1318-20. His chief work was the “Summa de Haeresibus.”

6. “Extrauagantes.” This word designates some Papal decretals not contained in certain canonical collections which possess a special authority, that is, they are not found in (but “wander outside,” “extra uagari”) the Decree of Gratian, or the three great official collections of the “Corpus Iuri” (the Decretals of Gregory IX; the Sixth Book of the Decretals; and the Clementines). The term is now applied to the collections known as the “Extrauagantes Ioannis XXII” and the “Extrauagantes Communes.” When John XXII (1316-34) published the Decretals already known as “Clementines,” there also existed various pontifical documents, obligatory upon the whole Church indeed, but not included in the “Corpus Iuris,” and these were called “Extrauagantes.” In 1325 Zenselinus de Cassanis added glosses to twenty constitutions of John XXII, and named this collection “Uiginti Extrauagantes papae Ioannis XXII.” Chappuis also classified these under fourteen titles containing all twenty chapters.
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Re: The Malleus Maleficarum, by Heinrich Kramer & James Spre

Postby admin » Thu Feb 26, 2015 8:17 am


The Method of Initiating a Process.

The first question, then, is what is the suitable method of instituting a process on behalf of the faith against witches. In answer to this it must be said that there are three methods allowed by Canon Law. The first is when someone accuses a person before a judge of the crime of heresy, or of protecting heretics, offering to prove it, and to submit himself to the penalty of talion if he fails to prove it. The second method is when someone denounces a person, but does not offer to prove it and is not willing to embroil himself in the matter; but says that he lays information out of zeal for the faith, or because of a sentence of excommunication inflicted by the Ordinary or his Vicar; or because of the temporal punishment exacted by the secular Judge upon those who fail to lay information.

The third method involves an inquisition, that is, when there is no accuser or informer, but a general report that there are witches in some town or place; and then the Judge must proceed, not at the instance of any party, but simply by the virtue of his office.

Here it is to be noted that a judge should not readily admit the first method of procedure. For one thing, it is not actuated by motives of faith, nor is it very applicable to the case of witches, since they commit their deeds in secret. Then, again, it is full of danger to the accuser, because of the penalty of talion which he will incur if he fails to prove his case. Then, again, it is very litigious.
Let the process begin with a general citation affixed to the walls of the Parish Church or the Town Hall, in the following manner.

WHEREAS we, the Vicar of such and such Ordinary (or the Judge of such and such county), do endeavour with all our might and strive with our whole heart to preserve the Christian people entrusted to us in unity and the happiness of the Catholic faith and to keep them far removed from every plague of abominable heresy: Therefore we the aforesaid Judge to whose office it belongs, to the glory and honour of the worshipful name of JESUS Christ and for the exaltation of the Holy Orthodox Faith, and for the putting down of the abomination of heresy, especially in all witches in general and in each one severally of whatever condition or estate: (Here, if he is an ecclesiastical Judge, let him add a summons to all priests and dignitaries of the Church in that town and for a distance of two miles about it, who have knowledge of this notice. And he shall add) By the authority which we exercise in this district, and in virtue of holy obedience and under pain of excommunication, we direct, command, require, and admonish that within the space of twelve days (Here the secular Judge shall command in his own manner under pain of penalties suitable to his office), the first four of which shall stand for the first warning, the second for the second, and the third for the third warning; and we give this treble canonical warning that if anyone know, see, or have heard that any person is reported to be a heretic or a witch, or of any is suspected especially of such practices as cause injury to men, cattle, or the fruits of the earth, to the loss of the State. But if any do not obey these aforesaid commands and admonitions by revealing such matters within the term fixed, let him know (Here the ecclesiastical Judge shall add) that he is cut off by the sword of excommunication (The secular Judge shall add the temporal punishments). Which sentence of excommunication we impose as from this time by this writing upon all and several who thus stubbornly set at naught these our canonical warnings aforesaid, and our requirement of their obedience, reserving to ourselves alone the absolution of such sentence (The secular Judge shall conclude in this manner). Given, etc.

Note also that in the case of the second method the following caution should be observed. For it has been said that the second method of procedure and of instituting a process on behalf of the faith is by means of an information, where the informer does not offer to prove his statement and is not ready to be embroiled in the case, but only speaks because of a sentence of excommunication, or out of zeal for the faith and for the good of the State. Therefore the secular Judge must specify in his general citation or warning aforesaid, that none should think that he will become liable to a penalty even if he fails to proved his words; since he comes forward not as an accuser but as an informer.

And then, since several will appear to lay information before the Judge, he ought to take care to proceed in the following manner. First, let him have a Notary and two honest persons, either clerics or laymen; or if a Notary is not to be procured, then let there be two suitable men in the place of the Notary. For this is dealt with in the c. ut officium, § uerum, lib. 6, where it is said: But because it is expedient to proceed with great caution in the trial of a grave crime, that no error may be committed in imposing upon the guilty a deservedly severe punishment; we desire and command that, in the examination of the witnesses necessary in such a charge, you shall have two religious and discreet persons, either clerics or laymen.
It goes on to say: In the presence of these persons the depositions of the witnesses shall be faithfully written down by a public official if one is obtainable, or, if not, by two suitable men. Note therefore that, having these persons, the Judge shall order the informer to lay his information in writing, or at least give it clearly by word of mouth. And then the Notary or the Judge shall begin to process in the following manner.

In the Name of the Lord. Amen.

In the year of Our Lord —, on the — day of the — month, in the presence of me the Notary and of the witnesses subscribed, N. of the town of — in the Diocese of —, as above, appeared in the person at — before the honourable Judge, and offered him a schedule to the following effect.

(Here shall follow the schedule in its entirety. But if he has not deposed in writing buy by word of mouth, it shall continue thus.)

He appeared, etc. and laid information to the Judge that N. of the town or parish of — in the Diocese of — had said and asserted that he knew how to perform or had actually done certain injuries to the deponent or to other persons.

After this, he shall immediately make the deponent take the oath in the usual manner, either on the four Gospels of God, or on the Cross, raising three fingers and depressing two in witness of the Holy Trinity and of the damnation of his soul and body, that he will speak the truth in his depositions. And when the oath has been sworn, he shall question him as to how he knows that his depositions are true, and whether he saw or heard that to which he swears. And if he says that he has seen anything, as, for example, that the accused was present at such a time of tempest, or that he had touched an animal, or had entered a stable, the Judge shall ask when he saw him, and where, and how often, and in what manner, and who were present. If he says that he did not see it, but heard of it, he shall ask him from whom he heart it, where, when, and how often, and in whose presence, making separate articles of each of the several points above mentioned. And the Notary or scribe shall set down a record of them immediately after the aforesaid denunciation; and it shall continue thus:

This denunciation, as we have said, having been made, the Inquisitor himself did at once cause him to swear as above on the four Gospels, etc. that he was speaking the truth in his depositions, and did ask him how and why he knew or suspected that he what he said was true. He did make answer either that he saw, or that he heard. The Inquisitor did then ask him where he saw or heard this; and he answered on the — day of the — month in the year — in the town or parish of —. He asked him how often he saw or heard it, etc. And separate articles shall be made, and the whole set down in process, as has been said. And particularly he shall be asked who shared or could share in his knowledge of the case.

When all this has been done, he shall finally be asked whether he lays his information out of ill-will, hatred, or rancour; or if he has omitted anything through favour or love; of if he has been requested or suborned to lay information.

Finally, he shall be enjoined, by virtue of his oath, to keep secret whatever he has said there, or whatever the Judge has said to him; and the whole process shall be set down in writing. And when all this is completed, it shall be set down a little lower as follows. This was done at such a place on the — day of the — month in the year —, in the presence of me the Notary or scribe together with those associated with me in the duty of writing, and of such and such witnesses summoned and interrogated.

The third method of beginning a process is the commonest and most usual one, because it is secret, and no accuser or informer has to appear. But when there is a general report of witchcraft in some town or parish, because of this report the Judge may proceed without a general citation or admonition as above, since the noise of that report comes often to his ears; and then again he can begin a process in the presence of the persons, as we have said before.

In the Name of the Lord. Amen.

In the year of Our Lord —, on the — day of the — month, to the ears of such and such official or judge there came a persistent public report and rumour that N. of the town or parish of — did or said such and such a thing savouring of witchcraft, against the faith and the common good of the State.

And the whole shall be set down according to the common report. And a little lower:

The case was heard on the — day of the — month in the year —, in the presence of me the Notary of such and such authority, or of such and such a scribe, and of such and such witnesses who were called and interrogated.

But before we proceed to the second Head, which deals with the method of conducting this sort of process, we must first say something of the witnesses who are to be examined, as to how many they should be, and what should be their condition.
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Re: The Malleus Maleficarum, by Heinrich Kramer & James Spre

Postby admin » Thu Feb 26, 2015 8:17 am


Of the Number of Witnesses.

Since we have said that in the second method the evidence of the witnesses is to be written down, it is necessary to know how many witnesses there should be, and of what condition. The question is whether a Judge may lawfully convict any person of the heresy of witchcraft on the evidence of two legitimate witnesses whose evidence is entirely concordant, or whether more than two are necessary. And we say that the evidence of witnesses is not entirely concordant when it is only partially so; that is, when two witnesses differ in their accounts, but agree in the substance or effect: as when one says “She bewitched my cow,” and the other says, “She bewitched my child,” but they agree as to the fact of witchcraft.

But here we are concerned with the case of two witnesses being in entire, not partial, agreement. And the answer is that, although two witnesses seem to be enough to satisfy the rigour of law (for the rule is that that which is sworn to by two or three is taken for the truth); yet in a charge of this kind two witnesses do not seem sufficient to ensure an equitable judgement, on account of the heinousness of the crime in question. For the proof of an accusation ought to be clearer than daylight; and especially ought this to be so in the case of the grave charge of heresy.

But it may be said that very little proof is required in a charge of this nature, since it takes very little argument to expose a person’s guilt; for it is said in the Canon de Haereticis, lib. II, that a man makes himself a heretic if in the least of his opinions he wanders from the teaching and the path of the Catholic religion. We answer that this is true enough with reference to the presumption that a person is a heretic, but not as regards a condemnation. For in a charge of this sort the usual order of judicial procedure is cut short, since the defendant does not see the witnesses take the oath, nor are they made known to him, because this might expose them to grave danger; therefore, according to the statute, the prisoner is not permitted to know who are his accusers. But the Judge himself must by virtue of his office, inquire into any personal enmity felt by the witnesses towards the prisoner; and such witnesses cannot be allowed, as will be shown later. And when the witnesses give confused evidence on account of something lying on their conscience, the Judge is empowered to put them through a second interrogatory. For the less opportunity the prisoner has to defend himself, the more carefully and diligently should the Judge conduct his inquiry.

Therefore, although there are two legitimate and concordant witnesses against a person, even so I do not allow that this would be sufficient warrant for a Judge to condemn a person on so great a charge; but if the prisoner is the subject of an evil report, a period should be set for his purgation; and if he is under strong suspicion on account of the evidence of two witnesses, the Judge should make him abjure the heresy, or question him, or defer his sentence. For it does not seem just to condemn a man of good name on so great a charge on the evidence of only two witnesses, though the case is otherwise with a person of bad reputation. This matter is fully dealt with in the Canon Law of heretics, where it is set down that the Bishop shall cause three or more men of good standing to give evidence on oath to speak the truth as to whether they have any knowledge of the existence of heretics in such a parish.

Again it may be asked whether the Judge can justly condemn a person of such heresy only on the evidence of witnesses who in some respects differ in their evidence, or merely on the strength of a general accusation. We answer that he cannot do so on either of the above grounds. Especially since the proofs of a charge ought, as we have said, to be clearer than daylight; and in this particular charge no one is to be condemned on merely presumptive evidence. Therefore in the case of a prisoner who is the subject of a general accusation, a period of purgation shall be set for him; and in the case of one who is under strong suspicion arising from the evidence of witnesses, he shall be made to abjure his heresy. But when, in spite of certain discrepancies, the witnesses agree in the main facts, then the matter shall rest with the Judge’s discretion; and indirectly the question arises how often the witnesses can be examined.
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Re: The Malleus Maleficarum, by Heinrich Kramer & James Spre

Postby admin » Thu Feb 26, 2015 8:17 am


Of the Solemn Adjuration and Re-examination of Witnesses.

But it may be asked whether the Judge can compel witnesses to sweat an oath to tell the truth in a case concerning the Faith or witches, of if he can examine them many times. We answer that he can do so, especially an ecclesiastical Judge, and that in ecclesiastical cases witnesses can be compelled to speak the truth, and this on oath, since otherwise their evidence would not be valid. For the Canon Law says: The Archbishop or Bishop may make a circuit of the parish in which it is rumoured that there are heretics, and compel three or more men of good repute, or even, if it seems good to him, the whole neighbourhood, to give evidence. And if any through damnable obstinacy stubbornly refuse to take the oath, they shall on that account be considered as heretics.

And that the witnesses can be examined several times is shown by the Canon, where it says that, when the witnesses have given their evidence in a confused manner, or appear to have withheld part of their knowledge for some reason, the Judge must take care to examine them afresh; for he may legally do so.
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Re: The Malleus Maleficarum, by Heinrich Kramer & James Spre

Postby admin » Thu Feb 26, 2015 8:18 am


Of the Quality and Condition of Witnesses.

Note that persons under a sentence of excommunication, associates and accomplices in the crime, notorious evildoers and criminals, or servants giving evidence against their masters, are admitted as witnesses in a case concerning the Faith. And just as a heretic may give evidence against a heretic, so may a witch against a witch; but this only in default of other proofs, and such evidence can only be admitted for the prosecution and not for the defence: this is true also of the evidence of the prisoner’s wife, sons and kindred; for the evidence of such has more weight in proving a charge than in disproving it.

This is made clear in the c. in fidei de haer., where it says: As a protection of the faith we allow that in a case of inquiry into the sin of heresy, persons under excommunication and partners and accomplices in the crime shall be admitted as witnesses, in default of other proofs against heretics and their patrons, protectors and defenders; provided that it appears probably both from the number of the witnesses and of those against whom they give evidence, and from other circumstances, that they are not giving false testimony.

The case of evidence given by perjurers, when it is presumed that they are speaking out of zeal for the faith, is deal with in the Canon c. accusatus, § licet, where it says that the evidence of perjurers, after they have repented, is admissable; and it goes on to say: If it manifestly appears that they do not speak in a spirit of levity, or from motives of enmity, or by reason of a bribe, but purely out of zeal for the orthodox faith, wishing to correct what they have said, or to reveal something about which they had kept silence, in defence of the faith, their testimony shell be as valid as that of anyone else, provided that there is no other obection to it.

And it is clear from the same chapter of the Canon that the testimony of men or low repute and criminals, and of servants against their masters, is admitted; for it says: So great is the plague of heresy that, in an action involving this crime, even servants are admitted as witnesses against their masters, and any criminal evildoer may give evidence against any person soever.
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Re: The Malleus Maleficarum, by Heinrich Kramer & James Spre

Postby admin » Thu Feb 26, 2015 8:18 am


Whether Mortal Enemies may be Admitted as Witnesses.

But if it is asked whether the Judge can admit the mortal enemies of the prisoner to give evidence against him in such a case, we answer that he cannot; for the same chapter of the Canon says: You must not understand that in this kind of charge a mortal personal enemy may be admitted to give evidence. Henry of Segusio also makes this quite clear. But it is mortal enemies that are spoken of; and it is to be noted that a witness is not necessarily to be disqualified because of every sort of enmity. And a mortal enmity is constituted by the following circumstances: when there is a death feud or vendetta between the parties, or when there has been an attempted homicide, or some serious wound or injury which manifestly shows that there is mortal hatred on the part of the witness against the prisoner, And in such a case it is presumed that, just as the witness has tried to inflict temporal death on the prisoner by wounding him, so he will also be willing to effect his object by accusing him of heresy; and just as he wished to take away his life, so he would be willing to take away his good name. Therefore the evidence of such mortal enemies is justly disqualified.

But there are other serious degrees of enmity (for women are easily provoked to hatred), which need not totally disqualify a witness, although they render his evidence very doubtful, so that full credence cannot be placed in his words unless they are substantiated by independent proofs, and other witnesses supply an indubitable proof of them. For the Judge must ask the prisoner whether he thinks that he has any enemy who would dare to accuse him of that crime out of hatred, so that he might compass his death; and if he says that he has, he shall ask who that person is; and then the Judge shall take note whether the person named as being likely to give evidence from motives of malice has actually done so. And if it is found that this is the case, and the Judge has learned from trustworthy men the cause of that enmity, and if the evidence in question is not substantiated by other proofs and the words of other witnesses, then he may safely reject such evidence. But if the prisoner says that he hopes he has no such enemy, but admits that he has had quarrels with women; or if he says that he has an enemy, but names someone who, perhaps, has not given evidence, in that case, even if other witnesses say that such a person has given evidence from motives of enmity, the Judge must not reject his evidence, but admit it together with the other proofs.

There are many who are not sufficiently careful and circumspect, and consider that the depositions of such quarrelsome women should be altogether rejected, saying that no faith can be placed in them, since they are nearly always actuated by motives of hatred. Such men are ignorant of the subtlety and precautions of magistrates, and speak and judge like men who are colour-blind. But these precautions are dealt with in Questions XI and XII.
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Re: The Malleus Maleficarum, by Heinrich Kramer & James Spre

Postby admin » Thu Feb 26, 2015 8:19 am


How the Trial is to be Proceeded with and Continued. And how the Witnesses are to be Examined in the Presence of Four Other Persons, and how the Accused is to be Questioned in Two Ways.

In considering the method of proceeding with a trial of a witch in the cause of faith, it must first be noted that such cases must be conducted in the simplest and most summary manner, without the arguments and contentions of advocates.

This is explained in the Canon as follows: It often happens that we institute a criminal process, and order it to be conducted in a simple straightforward manner without the legal quibbles and contentions which are introduced in other cases. Now much doubt had been experienced as to the meaning of these words, and as to exactly in what manner such cases should be conducted; but we, desiring as far as possible to remove all doubt on the matter, sanction the following procedure once and for all as valid: The Judge to whom we commit such a case need not require any writ, or demand that the action should be contested; he may conduct the case on holidays for the sake of the convenience of the public, he should shorten the conduct of the case as much as he can by disallowing all dilatory exceptions, appeals and obstructions, the impertinent contentions of pleaders and advocates, and the quarrels of witnesses, and by restraining the superfluous number of witnesses; but not in such a way as to neglect the necessary proofs; and we do not mean by this that he should omit the citation of and swearing of witnesses to tell and not to hide the truth.

And since, as we have shown, the process is to be conducted in a simple manner, and it is initiated either at the instance of an accuser, or of an informer actuated by zeal, or by reason of a general outcry and rumour; therefore the Judge should try to avoid the first method of beginning the action, namely, at the instance of an accusing party. For the deeds of witches in conjunction with devils are done in secret, and the accuser cannot in this case, as in others, have definite evidence by which he can make his statements good; therefore the Judge ought to advise the accuser to set aside his formal accusation and to speak rather as an informer, because of the grave danger that is incurred by an accuser. And so he can proceed in the second manner, which is commonly used, and likewise in the third manner, in which the process is begun not at the instance of any party.

It is to be noted that we have already said that the Judge ought particularly to ask the informer who shares or could share in his knowledge of the case. Accordingly the Judge should call as witnesses those whom the informer names, who seem to have most knowledge of the matter, and their names shall be entered by the scribe. After this the Judge, having regard to the fact that the aforesaid denunciation of heresy involves of its very nature such a grave charge that it cannot and must not be lightly passed over, since to do so would imply an offence to the Divine Majesty and an injury to the Catholic Faith and to the State, shell proceed to inform himself and examine the witnesses in the following manner.

Examination of Witnesses.

The witness N., of such a place, was called, sworn, and questioned whether he knew N. (naming the accused), and answered that he did. Asked how he knew him, he answered that he had seen and spoken with him on several occasions, or that they had been comrades (so explaining his reason for knowing him). Asked for how long he had known him, he answered, for ten or for so many years. Asked concerning his reputation, especially in matter concerning the faith, he answered that in his morals he was a good (or bad) man, but with regard to his faith, there was a report in such a place that he used certain practices contrary to the Faith, as a witch. Asked what was the report, he made answer. Asked whether he had seen or heard him doing such things, he again answered accordingly. Asked where he had heard him use such words, he answered, in such a place. Asked in whose presence, he answered, in the presence of such and such.

Further, he was asked whether any of the accused’s kindred had formerly been burned as witches, or had been suspected, and he answered. Asked whether he associated with suspected witches, he answered. Asked concerning the manner and reason of the accused’s alleged words, he answered, for such a reason and in such a manner. Asked whether he thought that the prisoner had used those words carelessly, unmeaningly and thoughtlessly, or rather with deliberate intention, he answered that he had used them jokingly or in temper, or without meaning or believing what he said, or else with deliberate intention.

Asked further how he could distinguish the accused’s motive, he answered that he knew it because he had spoken with a laugh.

This is a matter which must be inquired into very diligently; for very often people use words quoting someone else, or merely in temper, or as a test of the opinions of other people; although sometimes they are used assertively with definite intention.

He was further asked whether he made this deposition out of hatred or rancour, or whether he had suppressed anything out of favour or love, and he answered, etc. Following this, he as enjoined to preserve secrecy. This was done at such a place on such a day in the presence of such witnesses called and questioned, and of me the Notary or scribe.

Here it must always be noted that in such an examination at least five persons must be present, namely, the presiding Judge, the witness of informer, the respondent or accused, who appears afterwards, and the third is the Notary or scribe: where there is no Notary the scribe shall co-opt another honest man, and these two, as has been said, shall perform the duties of the Notary; and this is provided for by Apostolic authority, as was shown above, that in this kind of action two honest men should perform as it were the duty of witnesses of the depositions.

Also it must be noted that when a witness is called he must also be sworn, that is, he must take the oath in the manner we have shown; otherwise he would falsely be described as called and sworn.

In the same way the other witnesses are to be examined. And after this the Judge shall decide whether the fact is fully proven; and if not fully, whether there are great indications and strong suspicions of its truth. Observe that we do not speak of a light suspicion, arising from slight conjectures, but of a persistent report that the accused has worked witchcraft upon children or animals, etc. Then, if the Judge fears the escape of the accused, he shall cause him or her to be placed in custody; but if he does not fear his escape, he shall have him called for examination. But whether or not he places him in custody, he shall first cause his house to be searched unexpectedly, and all chests to be opened and all boxes in the corners, and all implements of witchcraft which are found to be taken away. And having done this, the Judge shall compare together everything of which he has been convicted or suspected by the evidence of witnesses, and conduct an interrogatory on them, having with him a Notary, etc., as above, and having caused the accused to swear by the four Gospels of God to speak the truth concerning both himself and others. And they shall all be written down in this following manner.

The General Examination of a Witch or Wizard: and it is the First Action.

The accused N. of such a place was sworn by personally touching the four Gospels of God to speak the truth concerning both himself and others, and was then asked whence he was and from where he originated. And he answered, from such a place in such a Diocese. Asked who were his parents, and whether they were alive or dead, he answered that they were alive in such a place, or dead in such a place.

Asked whether they died a natural death, or were burned, he answered in such a way. (Here note that this question is put because, as was shown in the Second Part of this work, witches generally offer or devote their own children to devils, and commonly their whole progeny is infected; and when the informer has deposed to this effect, and the witch herself has denied it, it lays her open to suspicion).

Asked where he was brought up, and where he chiefly lived, he answered, in such or such a place. And if it appears that he has changed abode because, perhaps, his mother or any of his kindred was not suspected, and had lived in foreign districts, especially in such places as are most frequented by witches, he shall be questioned accordingly.

Asked why he had moved from his birthplace and gone to live in such or such a place, he answered, for such a reason. Asked whether in those said places or elsewhere he had heard any talk of witches, as, for example, the stirring up of tempests, the bewitching of cattle, the depriving of cows of their milk, or any such matter of which he was accused; if he should answer that he had, he must be asked what he had heard, and all that he says must be written down. But if he denies it, and says that he has heard nothing, then he must be asked whether he believes that there are such things as witches, and that such things as were mentioned could be done, as that tempests could be raised or men and animals bewitched.

Not that for the most part witches deny this at first; and therefore this engenders a greater suspicion than if they were to answer that they left it to a superior judgement to say whether there were such or not. So if they deny it, they must be questioned as follows: Then are they innocently condemned when they are burned? And he or she must answer.

The Particular Examination of the Same.

Let the Judge take care not to delay the following questions, but to proceed at once with them. Let he be asked why the common people fear her, and whether she knows that she is defamed and hated, and why she had threatened such a person, saying, “You shall not cross me with impunity,” and let her answers be noted.

Then let he be asked what harm that person had done her, that she should have used such words to threaten him with injury. And note that this question is necessary in order to arrive at the cause of their enmity, for in the end the accused will allege that the informer has spoken out of enmity; but when this is not mortal, but only a womanish quarrel, it is no impediment. For this is a common custom of witches, to stir up enmity against themselves by some word or action, as, for example, to ask someone to lend them something or else they will damage his garden, or something of that sort, in order to make an occasion for deeds of witchcraft; and they manifest themselves either in word or in action, since they are compelled to do so at the instance of the devils, so that in this way the sins of Judges are aggravated while the witch remains unpunished.

For note that they do not do such things in the presence of others, so that if the informer wishes to produce witnesses he cannot do so. Note again that they are spurred on by the devils, as we have learned from many witches who have afterwards been burned; so that often they have to work witchcraft against their own wills.

Further, she was asked how the effect could follow from those threats, as that a child or animal should so quickly be bewitched, and she answered. Asked, “Why did you say that he would never know a day of health, and it was so?” she answered. And if she denies everything, let her be asked concerning other bewitchments, alleged by other witnesses, upon cattle or children. Asked why she was seen in the fields or in the stable with the cattle, and touching them, as is sometimes their custom, she answered.

Asked why she touched a child, and afterwards it fell sick, she answered. Also she was asked what she did in the fields at the time of a tempest, and so with many other matters. Again, why, having one or two cows, she had more milk than her neighbours who had four or six. Again, let her be asked why she persists in a state of adultery or concubinage; for although this is beside the point, yet such questions engender more suspicion than would the case with a chaste and honest woman who stood accused.

And not that she is to be continually questioned as to the depositions which have been laid against her, to see whether she always returns the same answers or not. And when this examination has been completed, whether her answers have been negative, or affirmative, or ambiguous, let them be written down: Executed in such a place, etc., as above.
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Re: The Malleus Maleficarum, by Heinrich Kramer & James Spre

Postby admin » Thu Feb 26, 2015 8:19 am


In Which Various Doubts are Set Forth with Regard to the Foregoing Questions and Negative Answers. Whether the Accused is to be Imprisoned, and when she is to be considered Manifestly Taken in the Foul Heresy of Witchcraft. This is the Second Action.

It is asked first what is to be done when, as often happens, the accused denies everything. We answer that the Judge has three points to consider, namely, her bad reputation, the evidence of the fact, and the words of the witnesses; and he must see whether all these agree together. And if, as very often is the case, they do not altogether agree together, since witches are variously accused of different deeds committed in some village or town; but the evidences of the fact are visible to the eye, as that a child has been harmed by sorcery, or, more often, a beast has been bewitched or deprived of its milk; and it a number of witnesses have come forward whose evidence, even if it show certain discrepancies (as that one should say she had bewitched his child, another his beast, and a third should merely witness to her reputation, and so with the others), but nevertheless agree in the substance of the fact, that is, as to the witchcraft, and that she is suspected of being a witch; although those witnesses are not enough to warrant a conviction without the fact of the general report, or even with that fact, as was shown above at the end of Question III, yet, taken in conjunction with the visible and tangible evidence of the fact, the Judge may, in consideration of these three points together, decide that the accused is to be reputed, not as strongly or gravely under suspicion (which suspicions will be explained later), but as manifestly taken in the heresy of witchcraft; provided, that is, that the witnesses are of a suitable condition and have not given evidence out of enmity, and that a sufficient number of them, say six or eight or ten, have agreed together under oath. And then, according to the Canon Law, he must subject her to punishment, whether she has confessed her crime or not. And this is proved as follows.

For since it is said, that when all three of the above considerations are in agreement, then she should be thought to be manifestly taken in heresy, it must not be understood that it is necessary for all three to be in agreement, but only that if this is the case the proof is all the stronger. For either one instance by itself of the following two circumstances, namely, the evidence of the fact and the production of legitimate witnesses, is sufficient to cause a person to be reputed as manifestly taken in heresy; and all the more when both these considerations are in agreement.

For when the Jurists ask in how many ways a person may be considered as manifestly taken in heresy, we answer that there are three ways, as S. Bernard has explained. This matter was treated of above in the First Question at the beginning of this work, namely, the evidence of the fact, when a person has publicly preacher heresy. But here we consider the evidence of the fact provided by public threats uttered by the accused, as when she said, “You shall have no healthy days,” or some such thing, and the threatened effect has followed. The other two ways are the legitimate proof of the case by witnesses, and thirdly by her own confession. Therefore, if each of these singly is sufficient to cause a person to be manifestly suspected, how much more is this the case when the reputation of the accused, the evidence of the fact, and the depositions of witnesses all together point to the same conclusion. It is true that S. Bernard speaks of an evident fact, and we here speak of the evidence of the fact; but this is because the devil does not work openly, but secretly. Therefore the injuries and the instruments of witchcraft which are found constitute the evidence of the fact. And whereas in other heresies an evident fact is alone sufficient, here we join three proofs together.

Secondly, it is thus proved that a person so taken is to be punished according to the law, even though she denies the accusation. For a person taken on the evidence of the fact, or on the depositions of witnesses, either confesses the crime or does not. If he confesses and is impenitent, he is to be handed over to the secular courts to suffer the extreme penalty, according to the chapter ad abolendam, or he is to be imprisoned for life, according to the chapter excommunicamus. But if he does not confess, and stoutly maintains his denial, he is to be delivered as an impenitent to the power of the Civil Court to be punished in a fitting manner, as Henry of Segusio shows in his Summa, where he treats of the manner of proceeding against heretics.

It is therefore concluded that it is most just if the Judge proceeds in that manner with his questions and the depositions of witnesses, since, as has been said, he can in a case concerning the Faith conduct matters quite plainly and in a short and summary manner; and it is meet that he should consign the accused to prison for a time, or for several years, in case perhaps, being depressed after a year of the squalor of prison, she may confess her crimes.

But, lest it should seem that he arrives at his sentence precipitately, and to show that he proceeds with all equity, let us inquire into what should next be done.
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