05 December 1484. Pope Innocent VIII releases a letter known as Summis Desiderantes Effectibus ("Desiring with Supreme Ardor") that condemned witches and authorized "inquisitors," led by Dominicans Jakob Sprenger and Heinrich Kramer, to root out those suspected to be involved in the Dark Arts. Two years later, Sprenger and Kramer publish a manual for witch-hunting, the Malleus Maleficarum ("Hammer of Witches"), which all the more fired up the frenzy.
Source: Josh McDowell and Don Stewart, Demons, Witches, and the Occult (Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1983), 72-75.
Recommended online article: Pavlac, Brian A. "Ten Common Errors and Myths about the Witch Hunts, Corrected and Commented," Prof. Pavlac's Women's History Resource Site. (June 6, 2006). URL: <http://departments.kings.edu/womens_history/witcherrors.html> (04 December 2008).