Malleus Maleficarum

Heinrich and Jacob Sprenger. Malleus Maleficarum. Nuremberg: Anton Koberger, 1494.

Most Frightening I


The Malleus Maleficarum ("the hammer of witches"), first published in 1489, is probably the most influential work ever written on the subject of witchcraft and the prosecution of its practitioners. This 1494 edition is one of the earliest of this work by Heinrich and Jacob Sprenger, Dominican priests who were appointed the first inquisitors of heresy and witchcraft for Germany. The manuscript of the work was officially approved by the University of Cologne’s theological faculty in 1487. It was written as a manual for ecclesiastical judges prosecuting witches, in accordance with the papal bull of 1484, which is reprinted in the beginning of the volume. The Malleus Maleficarum was considered an authority on the subject by judges, religious leaders, and authors on witchcraft and demonology for at least two hundred years. It held a central role in the history of witchcraft in Europe, insuring the mysogynistic path of the Inquisition and its aftermath.


The Discouerie of Witchcraft

The Discouerie of Witchcraft

Superstition Revisited

Reginald Scot, a scholar of sorts, was probably prompted to write about witchcraft because of witchcraft persecutions in his part of England. This work did not have an unusual topic for its time, but it was unusual in its premise—that witchcraft could be explained as fantasy, the product of overactive imaginations, or trickery. King James I published his own work on the subject, The Daemonologie, in direct opposition to Scot’s views. One source states that the 1584 edition (first edition) of The Discoverie is rare because King James I ordered that all copies that were found should be burned.

Shown here: Scot, Reginald. The Discouerie of Witchcraft: Wherein the Lewde Dealings of Witches and Witchmongers is Notablie Detected, the Knauerie of Coniurors, the Impietie of Inchantors, the Follie of Soothsaiers, the Impudent Falshood of Cousenors, the Infidelitie of Atheists, the Pestilent Practices of Pythonists, the Curiositie of Figure Casters, the Vanitie of Dreamers, the Beggerlie Art of Alcumystrie, the Abhomination of Idolatrie, the Horrible Art of Poisoning, the Vertue and Power of Naturall Magike, and All the Conueiances of Legierdemaine and Iuggling are Deciphered and Many Other Things Opened Which Have Long Lien Hidden, Howbeit Verie Necessarie to be Knowne. Heerevnto is Added a Treatise vpon the Nature and Substance of Spirits and Diuels, &c: / All Latelie Written by Reginald Scot Esquire. London: William Brome, 1584.


Carter letter


In this letter, dated October 10, 1727, Robert Carter advises his overseer, Mr. Robert Jones, how to control a slave named Ballazore. Carter recommends pursuing a court order to dismember the slave.



"Ballazore is an incorrigeable rogue nothing less than dismembring will reclaim him. I would have you outlaw him and get an order of the court for taking off his toes I have cured many a negro of running away by this means ...."

The Carter Family was one of the most prominent in Colonial Virginia.


The Horner Diary

Gustavus Richard Brown Horner, the Horner Diary.

After Slavery

The Horner Papers comprise 33 volumes of diaries and journals that cover a time period of May 24, 1826 to August 5, 1892. As shown here, the pages of the diaries are extremely difficult to read because of the bleed-through of the ink over the years. This section was transcribed with the assistance of a newspaper article that reported the events witnessed by Horner. The article appeared in The Mirror, a paper in Leesburg, Virginia, on January 22, 1880, reporting the lynching of Arthur Jordan, by seven white men. According to the article, Jordan had eloped with a white woman, the daughter of Mr. Jordan’s employer. The paper reports that the men, from Fauquier county, tracked him to Clear Spring, Maryland, where they captured him. Jordan was put in jail in Warrenton, but overnight 50 masked men seized him and took him to the cemetery. He was hanged from a small locust tree. The diary entry by Dr. Horner, dated January 19, 1880, gives his personal account of the incident. Unfortunately, only parts of the diary are decipherable.

The Horner Diary

Jan. 19—p.202

"before breakfast I was informed of the hanging of a negro last night ...went out this afternoon ... Warrenton county and found several men and boys of all colors looking at the corpse hanging by ..."
Jan. 19 (cont’d)—p. 204

"... and dragged to this place of execution. During the previous the body was cut down and taken to the large room in ... the courthouse ... it was inspected by a jury. He was ... buried in the negro cemetery ... I made a visit of the site [of] yesterday’s tragedy ..."

The caption under the drawing reads, "Arthur Jordan ... hung by men unknown at Warrenton...2 o’clock a.m. Monday Jan. 19th 1880"