My primary interest lies in the study of European witchcraft that occurred during the period between 1400-1700. This period was characterized by widespread hysteria, and nobody was safe from accusations of witchcraft, be it the elderly, children, or even noblemen. However, women were the primary victims of this mass hysteria that resulted in the loss of countless lives.
The Malleus Maleficarum, also known as the Hammer of the Witches, is a book that delves into the subject of witchcraft and provides a detailed account of the methods used to recognize, interrogate, and torture witches. The book, written in 1487, was approved by the church and became a significant driving force behind the witch-hunts that took place during this period.
The book's central argument is that women are more susceptible to being seduced by the devil, making them easier to turn into witches. Several chapters in the book provide explicit details on how to identify witches, including their physical characteristics, behaviors, and the presence of the devil's marks on their bodies.
The methods used to extract confessions from suspected witches were often gruesome and focused on the female body, particularly the genitalia. Suspects were stripped and inspected for the devil's marks, and if found, they were subjected to a variety of torture methods, such as being burned at the stake or having hot metal poured into their wombs.
The Hammer of the Witches, with its misogynistic and torturous methods, served as a driving force behind the persecution of women accused of witchcraft during this dark period in European history. The book is a testament to the collective fear and hysteria that gripped society during this time, resulting in the tragic loss of countless innocent lives.