The treatise singled out women as specifically inclined for witchcraft

The treatise singled out women as specifically inclined for witchcraft

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Courtney Osborn West. Civ. 12/03/07 The Malleus Maleficarum Witchcraft Imagine a time where there was not only the fear of disease, poverty and war, but also the fear of witches. From the fifteenth to the eighteenth century Europeans developed a concern for the phenomenon of witchcraft, resulting in organized hunts for these alleged witches. Witches were accused of impractical and impossible crimes such as causing famines, natural disasters and having intercourse with the devil. These hunts resulted in accusing, torturing and executing thousands of people, the majority of whom were women. The belief and idea that women were sinful and had demons within them developed out of the Middle Ages, where theologians sought to prove that women were witches and represented the devil. The first and most significant written theory of witchcraft was The Malleus Maleficarum , first published in 1486 and written by two Dominican Priests, Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger. The Malleus Malifarcum contained explicit information on the concept of witchcraft and was significant for many reasons. One reason was because it was one of the first works to touch on the heresy of witchcraft and argue that most witches were women. The treatise of The Malleus Maleficarum singled out women specifically for witchcraft because of their susceptibility to demonic temptations through their multiple weaknesses. Not only did Kramer and Sprenger discriminate women because of their weaknesses but also for religious and church purposes. While Europe was suffering from social and economic changes, such as war and plaque, it was also suffering from religious turmoil. With Europeans looking for answers and someone to blame, they came to the conclusion that witches represented a political and religious threat to the Protestant and Catholic church. The Malleus Maleficarum took advantage of the increasing havoc of the churches and provided answers. The Malleus Maleficarum was able to spread rapidly throughout Europe due to the invention of the printing press in the middle of the fifteenth century by Johannes
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Gutenberg . The text was a phenomenal success, becoming one of the most reprinted works in the early history of printing. T he Malleus Malificarum provided a viable explanation for the ills plaguing early modern Europe, resulting in these events becoming synonymous with the female sex. Europeans looking for answers accepted this theory and created an idea that generated a rampant trend. The publication of The Malleus Maleficarum caused women to be the mass majority of those prosecuted as witches. In fact, the very title of The Malleus Maleficarum is feminine, which alluded to the fact that women were being blamed for witchcraft. Most of those accused of witchcraft were rural, impoverished and single women. They were seen as evil and unclean people whose weaknesses summoned the devil for sexual intercourse, which allowed for demonic possession. Kramer and Sprenger claimed that women were prone to wickedness due to their weakness in faith, intelligence and memory. That women
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This note was uploaded on 04/16/2008 for the course HIST 101 taught by Professor Gardner during the Fall '08 term at Ithaca College.

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The treatise singled out women as specifically inclined for witchcraft

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