Maleficium (sorcery)

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Maleficium as a Latin term means "wrongdoing" or "mischief",[1] and describes malevolent, dangerous, or harmful magic, "evildoing,"[2] or "malevolent sorcery".[3] In general, the term applies to any magical act intended to cause harm or death to people or property. Maleficium can involve the act of poisoning or drugging someone.

In the Byzantine Empire astrologers (Lat. mathematici) were considered magical wrongdoers, and so were heretics.[4]

The term appears in several historically important texts, notably in the Formicarius (printed 1475) and in the Malleus Maleficarum (1487).

The Knights Templar were accused by Philip IV of France of maleficium. The trial of the Knights Templar set a social standard for the popular belief in maleficium and witchcraft that contributed to the great European witch hunt.[5]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "maleficium". Latin Word Lookup. University of Notre Dame. 
  2. ^ Stephens (2003), p. 198
  3. ^
  4. ^ María Victoria Escribano Paño (2010). "Chapter Three. Heretical texts and maleficium in the Codex Theodosianum (CTh. 16.5.34)". In Richard Lindsay Gordon; Francisco Marco Simón. Magical Practice in the Latin West: Papers from the International Conference Held at the University of Zaragoza, 30 Sept. – 1st Oct. 2005. BRILL. pp. 134–136. ISBN 90-04-17904-6. 
  5. ^ Normal Cohn, Europe's Inner Demons