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History of the German people at the close of the middle ages (Volume 16) online

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denial of God, child-murder, dishonouring of the Cross, damaging fields and
cattle — nothing more than a confirmation, either restrictive or the opposite
as the case required, of the authority of the inquisitors.' Ibid. 21 : ' What
effect could inquisitors and papal edicts have on the reformers, for whom no
papal edicts had any authority, but were regarded rather as diabolical
utterances ? And yet how enormously the belief in witches and the number
of witch-trials increased and developed in Protestant districts through the
zealous activity of the leaders of the schism.' ' Xo single territory of the
German empire has remained free from this pest ; it has overstepped every
cordon among the new religionists, who boast of their enlightenment and
their victory over "Antichrist" at Rome, as well as among the Catholics
who remain true to the Church : here, there and everywhere it carries on
its ravages.'


The secular authorities also took up the cause of the
inquisitors. The Emperor Maximilian I., on November
6, 1486, issued orders that they were to be accorded
all possible help and encouragement in the fulfilment
of their duties. The inquisitor Henry Tnstitoris —
mentioned in the Bull — included in his journeys, for
the purpose of tracking witches, a visit to Bishop
George Golser at Brixen. The latter, on July 23, 1485,
sent the papal Bull round to the clergy of his diocese
and enjoined them to receive the inquisitor and his
assistants in a friendly manner when they came to
instruct the people. In a memorandum of instructions
as to the method of procedure in witch-trials, Tnstitoris
called on the shepherds of souls to use all their power
to keep the people from sorcery and witchcraft ; he
declared denial of witchcraft to be open heresy and
mentioned as the chief crimes of witches : the pro-
duction of hailstorms, the disturbance of the human
understanding to the pitch of complete madness, the
rousing of irreconcilable hatred or irresistible love,
the hindrance of fertility in human beings and animals,
and even the taking of life. On all these points the
pastors were to instruct the people and to admonish
every one to give information concerning suspicious
people. In order that no one should be afraid of doing
this, the accused people were to be kept in strict
ignorance of the names of their accusers. A detailed
* Normativum ' gave fuller particulars as to how the
accused persons were to be proceeded against, according
to the thirteen degrees ascending from mere suspicion
to complete conviction. At the beginning of August,
Institoris entered on his work at Innsbruck, and towards
the end of this month over fifty persons (all except two

250 HisroRv OK 'riii

Online LibraryJohannes JanssenHistory of the German people at the close of the middle ages (Volume 16) → online text (page 21 of 45)