By the Pope publishing a document called the Papal Bull, written in 1484, it greatly attributed to the upsurge in witch hunts and persecutions through the 16th and 17th centuries. Before hand however, during the 15th century a change began in which many people in European countries culturally started to shift their thoughts away from the Roman Catholic church’s control. A professor by the name of Martin Luther encouraged the Reformation movement by posting his disputes against the church, called ’95 Theses’ on the churches door. The Roman Catholic Church played a crucial rule in the lives of Europe both spiritually and immensely politically, due to its unmatchable power and non separation of church and state. However when protestants came forward and ignited change gearing towards what is known now as the Reformation, the church began to lose it’s control over it’s regions and thus witch hysteria culture was born.
It was Witch Hysteria’s goal to inflict organizational fear upon it’s believing and non-believing people. The Papal Bull, was the first document to touch on the subject of witch awareness and also the first step in which the church made it’s first political moves forward to regain power. Next, the creation of the ‘Hammer of Witches’ document in which describes a handbook towards procedures of seizing and obtaining confessions of supposed witches, further instigating a new witch hunt culture and fear of being chosen or labeled as suspicious. Though both documents articulate that both men and women are possibilities for witch evil, it is thoroughly engraved in a handbook written by Heinrich Kramer, that women are the main source because they are “particularly susceptible to the crime because of their inability to control their passions, a commonly-held viewpoint,”(Kramer) and because roughly 75% of 40,000 persecutions were women, is it unequivocally true.
Kramer, Heinrich. Malleus Maleficarum. Translated by Rev. Montague Summers. London: J. Rodker, 1928.
Luther, Martin. 95 Theses. Fordham University. Internet Medieval Sourcebook. https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/source/luther95.txt (Links to an external site.). Sept. 2019.
Romanum, Bullarium. Innocent VIII: BULL Summis desiderantes. (Taurinensis editio) Medieval Sourcebook: Witchcraft Documents.[15th Century] Dec. 5th, 1484. Accessed at https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/source/witches1.asp (Links to an external site.)
Nider, Johannes. The Ant Hill. Ed. of Augsburg, Ca. 1476Lib. V. cap. 3. Circa 1437.
The Hammer of the Witches. (Malleus Maleficaru), University of Pennsylvania. Dept. of History, Philadelphia. 1486.