"An Unusual Inquisition"

Translated Documents from Heinricus Institoris’s Witch Hunts in Ravensburg and Innsbruck


Heinricus Institoris is the major author of the Malleus Maleficarum, the best known early-modern textbook on witchcraft. This work was heavily influenced by Institoris's activities as inquisitor in Ravensburg in 1484 and Innsbruck in 1485. This volume contains the only complete translations of a large number of documents pertaining to these inquisitions, and is a companion to a new (and the only complete) edition of these texts, which shed much light on the composition of the Malleus Maleficarum in general.

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Christopher S. Mackay (doctorate in Classical philology from Harvard University, 1994) is full professor in the Department of History and Classics of the University of Alberta. He has published books on Roman history, and translations and editions of texts from the early modern period, including the Malleus Maleficarum.
"This is an exceptionally rich collection of material, translated into clear, accessible English. Read along with Mackay’s introduction situating the sources in their political, social, and intellectual context, the text will be an excellent and stimulating resource for both graduate and undergraduate students of early witch hunting. This is top-notch scholarship." - Richard Raiswell, in: Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme, volume 44, issue 3 (2021)
Translation Notes
List of Decretals Cited


1 Letter from the Burgermasters and City Council of Ravensburg to Archduke Sigismund of the Tyrol, December 17, 1484

2 Urfehde (Guarantee of Good Behavior) for a Woman Presumably Questioned for Witchcraft by Institoris, Ravensburg, October 23, 1484

3 Instruction from Bishop Georg of Brixen to His Ecclesiastical Subordinates, July 23, 1485

4 Letter of Bishop Georg of Brixen to Institoris, September 21, 1485

5 Letter from Bishop Georg of Brixen to Archduke Sigismund, September 21, 1485

6 Letter from Archduke Sigismund of Austria to Bishop Georg of Brixen, October 8, 1485

7 Letter of Bishop Georg of Brixen to Sigismund Sämer, Parish Priest of Axams, Undated

8 Vernacular Protocol

9 Protocols of the Hearings Conducted against the Seven Arrested Women

10 Articles of Suspected Crimes and List of Questions for the Further Investigation of the Seven Suspects after Their Release

11 Record of the Proceedings against the Seven Accused, October 29 and 31 and November 3, 1485

12 Letter from Bishop Georg of Brixen to Institoris, November 14, 1485

13 Letter from Bishop Georg of Brixen to an Unnamed Parish Priest in Innsbruck, November 14, 1485

14 Letter of Bishop Georg of Brixen to a Brother Nicholas, February 9, 1486

15 Letter of Bishop Georg of Brixen to Institoris, February 9, 1486

16 Brixen Memorandum
All interested in the study of witchcraft in the early modern period.
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