Ulrich Molitor

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Ulrich Molitor (also Molitoris) (born c. 1442, died before 23 December 1507) was a legal scholar. He wrote an early treatise on witchcraft, De Lamiis et Pythonicis Mulieribus (Of Witches and Diviner Women), published in 1489[1] when he was Doctor of Laws of Padua and professor at the University of Constance. The work is written in the form of a dialogue.[1]

Molitor was one of the sceptical or "moderate" proponents of witchcraft of his time. Although Molitor supported the death sentence for heretics and practitioners of witchcraft, from a moderate point of view for his time he considered that the Sabbaths were an illusion caused by the Devil and not a reality. He wrote the work to allay the doubts [1] held by Archduke Sigismund of Austria regarding the topic. Sigismund had learned of witchcraft from the Dominican inquisitors, James Sprenger and Heinrich Kramer, who had journeyed to the Tyrol to "root out witchcraft",[1] but he was unconvinced of their claims; Sigismund in the dialogue was quick to dismiss evidence that was produced through the use of torture: "For the fear of punishments incites men to say what is contrary to the nature of the facts".[1]

Molitor often quotes the Bible, Church Fathers and poets. Omnipresent is Molitor's conviction in the power of the devil who acts through the permission of God, to deceive mortals who are thereby culpable.[1] He explained Merlin as a real human being and not, as many authorities commonly believed, the offspring of a devil and a woman.[1]


  • Molitoris, Ulrich,Schriften, ed. Jörg Mauz SJ [Studien zur Kulturgeschichte 1) (Constance, 1997)
  • Molitor, Ulrich, Von Unholden und Hexen, New edition, annotated and translated into modern German, UBooks 2008


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Robbins, Rossell (1959), The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology, Crown Publishers Inc., ISBN 0-600-01183-6 
  • Beyer, Jürgen, 'Molitor, Ulrich', in Enzyklopädie des Märchens. Handwörterbuch zur historischen und vergleichenden Erzählforschun, vol. 9 (Berlin & New York, 1997–99), col. 767-769
  • Mauz, Jörg, Ulrich Molitoris. Ein süddeutscher Humanist und Rechtsgelehrter (Vienna, 1992)
  • Geiling, Jens and Gawron, Thomas: "Molitor, Ulrich" in: Lexikon zur Geschichte der Hexenverfolgung historicum.net)