Heinrich Kramer wrote a book recommending practices that were too unethical for the INQUISITION! Kramer wasn’t excommunicated for that, though, they just shot him down for widespread endorsement.
His hatred of witchcraft was so strong that he justified torture, dismemberment and death in the name of God to root out that which he saw as evil. His methods were considered so beyond the pale awful that even the Catholic Inquisition told him to chill the heck out, and eventually the only place that would take him was Venice, the Las Vegas of 15th century Europe. So ultimately… a charismatic German has a meteoric rise to power and is strongly disliked by his peers and contemporaries. Sound familiar?
Kramer was an inquisitor in Germany, but felt that he wasn’t being given enough power. It seems he asked the pope, Innocent VIII, for help. In 1484, the pope issued Summis Desiderantes acknowledging the existence of witches and explicitly empowering the inquisition to prosecute witches.
And now the story descends into a really toxic stew, with all sorts of conflicting information. Kramer included Summis Desiderantes in the forefront of the Malleus Maleficarum implying papal support for the book. Malleus Maleficarum was condemned by the Inquisition in 1490…there was some scandal, Kramer always claiming support he didn’t have. According to https://www.faust.com/legend/malleus-maleficarum/Kramer and Sprenger submitted the Malleus Maleficarum to the University of Cologne’s Faculty of Theology on May 9, 1487, hoping for its endorsement. Instead, the clergy at the University condemned it as both illegal and unethical. Kramer nevertheless inserted a forged claim of support from the University into subsequent printed editions of the book.
The Church banned the book , placing it on the “Index of Forbidden Works. Malleus Maleficarum became a best seller. Here are some reviews:
So….forewarned, take a look inside Malleus Maleficarum.
Part 1 explains why women, by their weaker nature and inferior intellect, were supposedly naturally more prone to the lure of Satan. ‘when a woman thinks alone, she thinks evil’. All witchcraft comes from carnal lust, which is in women insatiable’
Part II describes the actual forms of witchcraft. . The most heinous of all crimes alleged to have been committed by witches in the Malleus is undoubtedly eating children.
Part III details the methods for detecting, trying, and sentencing or destroying witches. Many of the book’s reports of spells, pacts, sacrifice, and copulation with the Devil were gained from the tortures of Kramer’s inquisitions. Torture in the detection of witches is dealt with as a matter-of-course; Red-hot tongs were applied to womens' breasts and genitalia. Researcher Nancy van Vuuren has written that "The women's sex organs provided special attraction for the male torturer." It should not be surprising that just about every torture victim eventually confessed.
>sigh<….Kramer’s twisted sexuality and his awful book encouraged horrible misogyny and led to a widespread Medieval program against women. At LEAST 40,000 women were killed. And it allowed the church to easily subordinate people and openly denigrate women (there’s nothing like an Inquisition for truly effective behavior modification…)
https://www.thoughtco.com/persecuting-witches-and-witchcraft-4123033 says: The perception of women as inferior to men… has survived down through this day in the most conservative and fundamentalist religious movements around the world. Religious institutions and doctrines are a primary repository for ancient beliefs about the social, physical, political, and religious inferiority of women. Even if the rest of society is moving on and improving women's status, religion remains a main source of beliefs and attitudes which retard that progress in the hopes of reversing it completely.
The women questioned as witches would eventually agree to every ludicrous, insane suggestion of their torturers….so, really, most of our information about witches is based on the imaginings of seriously twisted Medieval men. Of course, just like Grimms’ Fairy Tales, the gory and sexual bits have been scrubbed off over the years, so today we have silly old witches on broomsticks, with no sexual connotations.
Witches cooking small children, kissing the devil’s butt, and stomping on a cross.
from 1720, dancing with the demons (above) and flying on broomsticks (below)
A witch feeding her familiars (below)
Look, what I’m giving here is a highly condensed account. If you’d like to learn more, check out these websites: