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Bridging North and South: Inquisitorial Networks and Witchcraft Theory on the Eve of the Reformation

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This article reconstructs a network of Dominican inquisitors who facilitated the reception and adaptation of northern European demonological notions in the Italian peninsula. It focuses on the collaboration of Italian friars with Heinrich Kramer, the infamous Alsatian witch-hunter and author of the Malleus Maleficarum (1486). Drawing on newly-discovered archival sources as well as on published works from the early sixteenth century, it proposes that Italian inquisitors provided Kramer with information on local saintly figures and were, in turn, influenced by his views on witchcraft. Following their encounter with Kramer in 1499-1500, they came to regard witches as members of an organized diabolical sect, and were largely responsible for turning the Malleus into the focal point of the Italian debate over witch-hunting. I argue that Kramer's case attests to the important role of papal inquisitors before the Reformation in bridging the cultural and religious worlds south and north of the Alps.

Affiliations: 1: Tel Aviv University


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