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formal indictments. (Linsborgh, Hist. Inquisit. lib. i. Also Menard, Histoire de la Ville de Nismes.)
Pope John XXII. complains bitterly in a bull of 1317 that a number of his own courtiers, and even his own physician, had given themselves over to the devil, and had conjured evil spirits into rings, looking-glasses, and circles, in order to influence men both at a distance and also near at hand, "nefariis operationibus, magicis artibus horrenda maleficia, incantationes et convocationes dæmonum;" yes, that his enemies even had availed themselves of means of sorcery in order to dispatch him out of the world. This bull contains the commission for the appointment of judges to inquire into these alleged crimes, by which it appears that those sorcerers had little pictures and mirrors, "Conflari imagines plumbeas vel etiam lapideas fabricarunt, malignos spiritus invocarunt, ut per eos contra salutem hominum molirentur, aut eos interimendo violentia carminis," etc. Ten years later the same pope complained of the unholy tendency of men towards the magic arts. "There prevails," he says, "such a darkness, that many solo nomine Christianos have forsaken the true light, and have made a compact with hell, and demand of the demons speech and answer-dæmones nempe immolant, hos adorant, fabricant imagines vel speculum, vel phialam, magice dæmones illibi alligantes: ab his petunt responsa, recipiunt et pro implendis pravis suis desideriis auxilia postulant." (Horst, Dæmonomagie, i. 115 according to Raynald, ab anno 1327.) Pope John had occasion to complain, for at that time men employed not merely the means of superstition and sorcery, but actual poison for devilish crimes, especially amongst the great, and at court, of which Tiedemann, Meiner in the Historical Comparison of the Middle Ages, Th. iii. p. 254, and Horst, give many examples. These crimes and superstitions rose so much into the ascendancy, that the Sarbonne, at the suggestion of the excellent Chancellor Gerson, in the year 1398 published seven-and-twenty articles against sorcery, superstition, and pictures in glasses and stones of demons and spirits. Gerson's own essay bears the title "De erroribus circa artem magicam.' At Langres also there was a Synod held in 1404, especially to devise means for checking the progress of sorcery.
Finally, the belief in witchcraft reached its acme in the fifteenth century; so that afterwards it only the more strengthened itself by diffusion, and had its dignity augmented by the sacred sanction. The distinction of this century is, that from this time forward they were chiefly women who were accused of witchcraft, after some few, and those men of high rank, had been executed in 1440 on such charges; namely, the minister of Philip the Handsome, Enguerrand de Maigny, and Aegid de Rez, Marshal of France, who had himself destroyed a hundred and sixty children and as many pregnant women. Amongst the women burnt at that period for sorcery was the Maid of Orleans. The prosecution of witches was now formally sanctioned by the sorcery-bull of Innocent VIII.; and, finally, through the Hexenhammer, the tyranny of the Court of Heresy received authority to whirl the whip of destruction, and left the leadership of the world entirely to the devil.
As we have seen, the belief in witchcraft, the witchtrials, and the execution of conjurers, had already preceded this period, so that Innocent was not precisely the originator, but the establisher and promulgator of the witch-prosecutions, and of the now established faith in the arts and devilish doings. The sorcery-bull introduced the courts extraordinary, in which those accused of witchcraft were no longer examined as to their innocence or guilt, but in which consternation and horror followed the accusation, and the punishment was nearly on their heels. Terrible institution! Horrible time! Spectacle of despair for Europe, and especially for Germany! Certainly no other enactment in history can be placed in comparison with this, by which such a multitude of absurdities have been showered down on the human mind—no such ridiculous and yet ferocious historical document.
The contents of the bull of the 4th December, 1484, the work and creation of Innocent VIII., are as follows:The Pope expresses his grief that, in many parts of Germany, particularly in Upper Germany, Salzburg and Mainz, Cologne, Trier, and Bremen, many persons of both sexes, forgetful of their salvation, and falling away from the
Catholic faith, mingle themselves with demons and paramour-devils (Incubus et succubus abuti), and then by their aid and magical means use devilish arts to torment men and animals, effect unspeakably numerous evils, and destroy the fruits of the earth, as vineyards, gardens, and meadows; disastrously affect both men and women (reactus conjugales reddere valeant), and perpetrate incalculable crimes (quam plurima nefanda excessus et crimina). The Pope conferred, by virtue of this bull, power on three appointed preachers to expound the word of God in those countries to the faithful, to hunt out the heretics, and to punish them by excommunication, censure, and chastisement, by interdict and suspension, and even to hang them without any power of appeal-"ac alias etiam formidabiliores sententias omni appellatione postposita." He commanded the right reverend brother the Bishop of Strasburg, not by any means, either of himself or by others, to make known publicly to the accused the charge against him; he was not allowed to weaken or restrict the power of the said apostolic letters by any means whatsoever; nor to contradict nor resist the orders of the commissioners, let the rank, office, privileges, nobility, or consideration of the accused be whatsoever they might. "Si quis autem hæc attentare præsumpserit, indignationem omnipotentis Dei ac beatorum Petri et Pauli apostolorum ejus se noverit incursurum." ." The bull is abridged from the original in Hauber's Bibliotheca Mag. vol. i.; and in Horst's Dæmonomagie, vol. ii.
Through this ordnance the inquisitors had an easy game of it, for no one dared to contradict their opinion. It expressly treats of "people who pretend to know more than others, and does not hesitate to assert that such crimes ought to be punished." Thus, there was to be contradiction; every objection which necessity and justice, sagacity and truth, might advocate, was beaten down beforehand; and there could be no appeal whatever to any higher tribunal! General as the belief in witches then was, there were people enough who saw deeper; who had understanding and feeling enough to deny the benefit of so much nonsense, and to deplore the misery and the horrors which must thus
be poured upon mankind. Hitherto the people and the magistracy had only acknowledged the authority of the Pope in matters of faith, but not over offenders of the kind here indicated. Men had, indeed, for some centuries prosecuted heresy, and charged many of the accused with sorcery; for, as we have said, heresy and sorcery were now placed in the same category. But the witch-prosecutions hitherto had not been formally recognised; and the judge might be summoned to a higher tribunal to answer for his judgment; as it happened to the judges of sorcery cases at Arras, who were summoned before the parliament of Paris. The secular magistracy had hitherto had the deciding judgment. By the present bull, heresy and sorcery were linked together. "He who believes otherwise is a sorcerer; and he who is bewitched is a heretic, or a confederate of the devil." Through this change of authority a terrible innovation was made, and the secular power was placed in subjection to that of the inquisitors. No wonder that this bull was regarded by the sensible people of all conditions, even by clergymen and preachers, with the most decided repugnance; as we find expressly stated in the introduction to the Hexenhammer. "Even preachers of the Divine Word did not hesitate to assure the people that there were no such things as witches; that they had no arts by which they could injure men and animals; by which imprudent language the secular arm was not unfrequently restrained from punishing such sorceries; and thus they became amazingly increased, and heresy became enormously strengthened."
Malleus maleficarum, in German the Hexenhammer, in plain English the Witch-hammer, expresses admirably in each language the nature of the instrument. A hammer is made for striking; it crushes what it strikes. Here was the hammer for the heretics, who were held to be synonymous with evil-doers; and indeed, as the book expressed, maleficarum. Thus the witches were the wicked, heretical women (hæretica pravitatis) whom the hammer was to demolish, and which we must examine more closely.
This ominous book appeared first, probably, in 1489, and consisted of 625 pages in quarto. This was the original edition as quoted by Hauber. There were subsequent
editions, but they were never translated into German. The complete title stands thus :—
In tres partes divisus, in quibus
I. Concurrentia ad maleficia ; 11. Maleficiorum effectus,
III. Remedia adversus maleficia,
Et modus denique procedendi ac puniendi maleficas abunde
The authors were appointed by the Pope, and were styled in the sorcery-bull Inquisitors. 1st. Jacobus Sprenger, ordinis prædicorum et theologiæ professor in Cologne. 2nd. Johannes Gremper, clericus Constantien. diocess., magister in artibus; and 3rd. Henricus, Institor in Germany. They were expressly called "Inquisitores hæretica pravitatis." According to Becker and Hauber, there were others engaged with them in the composition of it. In the apology prefixed to the book the editors say distinctly, that they gathered matter rather than furnished it originally, in order that they might not be considered as the originators of it. As their authorities, they gave the names of Dionysius Areopagitus, Chrysostom, John of Damascus, Hilarius, Augustin, Gregory I., Remigius, Albertus Magnus, Thomas Aquinas, Bonaventura, Rabbi Mose, the "Vitæ sanctorum patrum," Concilia, Jura canonica, Biblia sacra, etc. Besides these sacred supports, the following secular writers were quoted:-M. Psellus, de natura dæmonorum, Martin Plausius, Bishop of Tübingen, de maleficiis, Bartholomew de Spina, de ludificatione dæmonorum.
To the book, as was natural was prefixed the papal bull, and also a testimony of approbation extracted by the fanatical authors from the theological faculty of Cologne. Finally, they contrived to obtain from the Emperor Maximilian, who himself entertained doubts as to the existence of sorcery, a diploma. And now, says Horst, all was in order; and to their ferocious, humanity-outraging regulations, no further opposition could be made. Unfortunate Fatherland, worthy of all pity! Thee it concerned before