(Latin: "(The) Witch Hammer", from malleus, "hammer", and malefica, "sorceress, witch")
Procedural manual for witchcraft trials, compiled by the inquisitor Heinrich Kramer (possibly with the aid of another inquisitor, the theologian Jakob Sprenger), and printed for the first time in Speyer, 1486 or 1487.
Both Kramer and Sprenger are mentioned in the Papal bull Summis desiderantes affectibus, issued by Pope Innocent VIII on December 5, 1484, which delegates them both, by name, as inquisitors to Northern Germany. The full text of the bull was incorporated into the later editions of the Malleus maleficarum, to make it appear that the work was authorised by the Holy See. By a sort of textual symbiosis, the bull Summis desiderantes affectibus and the Malleus Maleficarum thus reinforced each other. The widespread popularity of the Malleus led to the dispersal of the text of the bull all over Europe, and conversely, the bull lent the Malleus a spurious dignity. As a consequence, the views propounded in the book with regard to witchcraft and jurisprudence had far greater impact on European law than they might otherwise have had.
Following the first, Speyer, printing, the Malleus was frequently reprinted, with the bull as preface. From 1487 to 1520, there were at least fourteen editions, and from 1574 to 1669, at least sixteen. These were published in the great printing centres of Italy, France and Germany. The final imprint of the original, Latin, text, was made at Lyons in 1669.