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Now that we are in October,  we are getting into the Halloween spirit by talking about an infamous book called The Malleus Maleficarum, also known as The Hammer of Witches. A book responsible for fueling the heinous witch trials throughout medieval Europe for centuries. 

We delve into book history and talk about the author and inquisitor Heinrich Kramer. Then we have a fantastic interview with rare books librarian Karen Wahl about her research on the printing developments of the Malleus Maleficarum, and a talk with writer and translator Valarie Williams about an 20th century supernatural scholar named Montague Summers.

For this episode, what I originally thought would be a fun witchy romp through book history, ended up being a little heavy, more than a little misogynistic, and a lot uncomfortable. So, I won't be getting into the gory details about the European witch trials on this podcast, but choosing to mainly focus on the Malleus Maleficarum itself and its author. There are plenty of gory details about the witch trials out there that you can easily find, trust me. Instead, I want to emphasize how powerful a book can be, for better or worse. The Malleus Maleficarum is after all, probably the most widely printed and bestselling book after the bible. It was the go-to witch hunting manual for centuries, and single-handedly altered the lore of witches forever. 

Disclaimer: Although this a very tame version of the European Witch Trials and this episode is still very much safe for work and not explicit, there is some material that may be uncomfortable for very sensitive ears - I do mention parts of the human anatomy and talk about the inquisition of witches.

Links and Recommended Reading:

Books in the Wild (full transcripts available)

Malleus Maleficarum (full text)

The Jacob Burns Law Library (interview with librarian Karen Wahl)

American Association of Law Libraries Legal History and Rare Books Special Interest Section 

Fearless Wives and Frightened Shrews: The Construction of the Witch in Early Modern Germany by Sigrid Brauner

The Malleus Maleficarum and the Construction of Witchcraft: Theology and Popular Belief by Hans Peter Broedel

Witchcraft in Europe, 400-1700: A Documentary History by Alan Charles Kors

 Historical Blindness - a great podcast that covers obscure and mysterious history, including a current episode about the rise of the Satanic Panic

Monster Talk - a paranormal podcast by Skeptic Magazine. Check out episode 110 where they interview author Brian Regal about his research on Montague Summers.


Music: Vanishing, Rites, and Myst on the Moor by Kevin MacLeod, (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

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