The Hammer of Witches

The hard part of being a history major isn’t the hundreds of pages of reading every night. It isn’t trying to understand texts that are written in 500 year old vernacular. It isn’t, even, the essays with thousands of words in them. It’s actually trying to read this kind of thing (in this case, the infamous Malleus Maleficarum or “Hammer of Witches”) and take it seriously:

And what, then, is to be thought of those witches who in this way sometimes collect male organs in great numbers, as many as twenty or thirty members together, and put them in a bird’s nest, or shut them up in a box, where they move themselves like living members, and eat oats and corn, as has been seen by many and is a matter of common report? It is to be said that it is all done by devil’s work and illusion, for the senses of those who see them are deluded in the way we have said. For a certain man tells that, when he had lost his member, he approached a known witch to ask her to restore it to him. She told the afflicted man to climb a certain tree, and that he might take which he liked out of the nest in which there were several members. And when he tried to take a big one, the witch said: You must not take that one; adding, because it belongs to a parish priest.

If you would like to indulge in more of this bit of unjustified 15th century weirdness, there is a good translation of it on this website.

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About Mary Rose

A student blogger with a passion for travel, tea, and the art world. I’m also a published short fiction and poetry writer, an amateur photographer, and a burgeoning wine snob.
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