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Malleus maleficarum, 1494

German clergyman and inquisitor Heinrich Kramer Institoris wrote Malleus maleficarum, Latin for "The Hammer of Witches," to prove to skeptics in the Catholic Church that witchcraft did in fact exist and to instruct clergy on finding and persecuting suspected witches. Although initially rejected as promoting illegal, unethical practices, as well as being inconsistent with Catholic doctrine about demonology, it became one of the most important historical works on witchcraft—at least 29 editions were published between 1487 and 1669. As the first such treatise to suggest that women were more susceptible to temptation by the Devil, demons, and witchcraft, it led to the gender-based persecutions of witches for many subsequent generations.

Courtesy National Library of Medicine

Title page of a book.
  • Creator:

    Heinrich Kramer Institoris (1430–1505), Jakob Sprenger (ca. 1436–1495)