Between 1450 and 1750 thousands of people – most of them women – were accused, prosecuted and executed for the crime of witchcraft. The witch-hunt was not a single event; it comprised thousands of individual prosecutions, each shaped by the religious and social dimensions of the particular area as well as political and legal factors. Brian Levack sorts through the proliferation of theories to provide a coherent introduction to the subject, as well as contributing to the scholarly debate. The book: Examines why witchcraft prosecutions took place, how many trials and victims there were, and why witch-hunting eventually came to an end. Explores the beliefs of both educated and illiterate people regarding witchcraft. Uses regional and local studies to give a more detailed analysis of the chronological and geographical distribution of witch-trials. Emphasises the legal context of witchcraft prosecutions. Illuminates the social, economic and political history of early modern Europe, and in particular the position of women within it. In this fully updated third edition of his exceptional study, Levack incorporates the vast amount of literature that has emerged since the last edition. He substantially extends his consideration of the decline of the witch-hunt and goes further in his exploration of witch-hunting after the trials, especially in contemporary Africa. New illustrations vividly depict beliefs about witchcraft in early modern Europe.
A collection of essays from leading scholars in the field that collectively study the rise and fall of witchcraft prosecutions in the various kingdoms and territories of Europe and in English, Spanish, and Portuguese colonies in the Americas.
Covering witch hunts from Germany to New England, this concise encyclopedia is a fascinating reference on the hunt to find and persecute those who practiced witchcraft.
This book critiques historians’ assumptions about witch-hunting as well as their explanations for this complex and perplexing phenomenon. It shows that large numbers of men were accused of witchcraft in their own right, in some regions, more men were accused than women. The authors insist on the centrality of gender, tradition, and ideas about witches in the construction of the witch as a dangerous figure. They challenge the marginalization of male witches by feminist and other historians.
In the fifteenth century many authorities did not believe Inquisitors' stories of a supposed Satanic witch sect. However, the religious conflict of the sixteenth-century Reformation - especially popular movements of reform and revolt - helped to create an atmosphere in which diabolical conspiracies (which swept up religious dissidents, Jews and magicians into their nets) were believed to pose a very real threat. Fear of the Devil and his followers inspired horrific incidents of judicially-approved terror in early modern Europe, leading after 1560 to the infamous witch hunts. Bringing together the fields of Reformation and witchcraft studies, this fascinating book reveals how the early modern period's religious conflicts led to widespread confusion and uncertainty. Gary K. Waite examines in-depth how church leaders dispelled rising religious doubt by persecuting heretics, and how alleged infernal plots, and witches who confessed to making a pact with the Devil, helped the authorities to reaffirm orthodoxy. Waite argues that it was only when the authorities came to terms with pluralism that there was a corresponding decline in witch panics.
The fifteenth to eighteenth centuries was a period of witchcraft prosecutions throughout Europe and modern scholars have now devoted a huge amount of research to these episodes. This volume will attempt to bring this work together by summarising the history of the trials in a new way - according to the types of legal systems involved. Other topics covered will be the continued practical use made of magic, the elaboration of demonological theories about witchcraft and magic, and the further development of scientific interests in natural magic through the 'Neoplatonic' and 'Hermetic' period.Amongst the topics included here are Superstition and Belief in high and popular culture, the place of Medicine, Witchcraft survivals in art and literature, and the survival of Persecution.>
The European Witch-Hunt seeks to explain why thousands of people, mostly lower-class women, were deliberately tortured and killed in the name of religion and morality during three centuries of intermittent witch-hunting throughout Europe and North America. Combining perspectives from history, sociology, psychology and other disciplines, this book provides a comprehensive account of witch-hunting in early modern Europe. Julian Goodare sets out an original interpretation of witch-hunting as an episode of ideologically-driven persecution by the ‘godly state’ in the era of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation. Full weight is also given to the context of village social relationships, and there is a detailed analysis of gender issues. Witch-hunting was a legal operation, and the courts’ rationale for interrogation under torture is explained. Panicking local elites, rather than central governments, were at the forefront of witch-hunting. Further chapters explore folk beliefs about legendary witches, and intellectuals’ beliefs about a secret conspiracy of witches in league with the Devil. Witch-hunting eventually declined when the ideological pressure to combat the Devil’s allies slackened. A final chapter sets witch-hunting in the context of other episodes of modern persecution. This book is the ideal resource for students exploring the history of witch-hunting. Its level of detail and use of social theory also make it important for scholars and researchers.
An up-to-date account of the present state of scholarship on early modern European witchcraft.