En Prædikants Hammer - En undersøgelse af Heksehammerens brugsværdi som prædikenmateriale

Niels Villadsen

Studenteropgave: Speciale


The overall purpose of this project is to view the Malleus Maleficarum in terms of utility. As a basis therefor, I suggest that Heinrich Kramer wrote the Second Part of the work with a specific goal in mind; to supply Dominican preachers, especially, with a compendium of exempla for use in preaching against witchcraft. As such, the goal of the analysis has been to analyse selected stories from the Second Part in order to illustrate their purpose as materiel for preaching. An investigation of this subject matter can not only help to explain some of the more bizarre anecdotes found in the Malleus, but may even elucidate how the inquisitorial conception of witchcraft could be propagated by preachers to great effect. Additionally, an analysis of the stories and anecdotes may shed further light on the belief in, and conception of, witchcraft in the late 1400s. The method chosen consists, in all its simplicity, of a close reading of the selected texts, guided by a Weberian understanding of rationalities as underlying motivation for the given stories’ inclusion, formulation and purpose. The analysis is based on Christopher S. Mackay’s translation of the Malleus into English, while concept of rationalities is based on an analysis of medieval rationalities by D. L. d’Avray. After an outline of the historical context of the Malleus and an examination of the origins of the inquisitorial concept of witchcraft and its relation to folk- and learned magic, the analysis dives into the use of this concept as a narrative component.
The analysis reveals a remarkable complexity of stories, allegorical in nature as well as based on purported witness accounts. The rationality underpinning certain stories can be said to clash with the rationality of the perceived audience, leading to further potential problems as the inquisitorial formulation of witchcraft takes root among the laity. The use of humour, narrative structure, frightening scenes of violence and inspiring tales of piety point to a use of these stories in preaching as very similar to the use of hagiographies. Narratively, hagiographies and tales of witchcraft, in terms of preaching, share a number of similar traits; in fact, the witch tales seem to be inverted Saints’ tales: The latter seeks to inspire the flock to greater piety, the former frightens them to the same end.

UddannelserHistorie, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Kandidat
Udgivelsesdato31 maj 2018
Antal sider74
VejledereMia Münster-Swendsen


  • Heksehammeren
  • Prædiken
  • Hekse
  • Henrik Kramer
  • Rationaler
  • Exempla
  • Fortællinger
  • Malleus Maleficarum