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The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europeby Brian P. Levack
Synopses & Reviews
"Brian Levack's aims are to provide a coherent introduction to the subject and contribute to an ongoing scholarly debate. In both these aims - but particularly in the former - he has succeeded magnificently. ...it will serve as a standard introduction to the topic for many years to come." So wrote Brian Easlea in the English Historical Review of this famous book when it first appeared in 1987. It focuses on the great age of witch-hunting in Europe (and also in colonial America), between 1450 and 1750. In these years more than 100,000 people - most of them women - were prosecuted by secular and ecclesiastical courts across Europe for allegedly practising harmful magic and worshipping the Devil. The book sets out to answer the major questions that this strange and terrible phenomenon evokes today: * Why did the trials take place? * Why did they suddenly proliferate in Europe at this time? How many trials were there, and where, and what were their outcomes? * Why were more witches prosecuted in some countries than others? * Who were the accused and who were their accusers? * Why, after more than 200 years of vigorous activity, did the trials eventually dwindle away? * What do they tell us about the social, economic and political history of early modern Europe - and, in particular, the position of women within it? In this timely Second Edition, Brian Levack now incorporates the latest scholarship on the subject. The general lines of his argument remain as before, but numerous new regional and local studies (many on the periphery of Europe) have made possible a fuller treatment of the witch-hunt, and a more detailed analysis of its chronological and geographical distribution. He also includes new material on the development of witch-beliefs in the Middle Ages; on the social dimension of witchcraft; and on the connection between witch-hunting and the Protestant and Catholic Reformations. The notes and bibliography have been greatly expanded, and the book has been entirely reset. "(He) has produced a valuable synthesis of the materials currently available, and his text will prove a lifeline to many students."Martin Ingram, European History Quarterly "Now, at last, with Brian Levack's careful, scholarly and critical survey, a thoroughly reliable introduction to the whole literature is available. Levack appears to have read every significant work, both new and old and in most relevant languages, and has judiciously sifted out the information, pondered on it, and come up with balanced and sensible verdicts."Henry Kamen, History Today "Levack's logical sorting of a prodigious amount of material has resulted in one of the most informative and comprehensive works of its genre."Hans Sebald, American Historical Review BRIAN P. LEVACK is Professor of History in the University of Texas at Austin.
Book News Annotation:
Discusses the intellectual and legal foundations of the witch- hunts, during which over 100,000 people, mostly women, were prosecuted; the impact of the Reformation; the social context, dynamics, chronology, and geography of witch-hunting; the phenomenon's decline; and the survival and revival of witchcraft. B&w illustrations.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Fearlessly, Brian Levack tackles a vast, complex subject and reduces it to a concise and lucid synthesis with consummate skill, challenging old assumptions and casting light into the darkest corners. the essential starting point for the study of early modern witch-beliefs and witchcraft trials.
Dr Malcolm Gaskill, University of Cambridge
Of previous editions:
Now, at last, with Brian Levacks careful scholarly and critical survey, a thoroughly reliable introduction to the whole literature is available.
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.
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.
Brian Levack is the John Green Regents Professor in History at the University of Texas at Austin. He has written and edited many books, including The Witchcraft Sourcebook (2004) and Witchcraft and Magic in Europe: The Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries (1999).
Why did the trials take place? Why did they suddenly expand in Europe at this time? How many trials were there, and where, and how did they end? Using recent findings, this revised edition examines early Europes fascination with witches and witchcraft.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 270-284) and index.
About the Author
Brian Levack is a Professor, Universityof Texasat Austin. He written and edited many books including; Witchcraft and Magic in Europe: The Eighteenth and Nineteenth
Centuries(1999), The West: Encounters and Transformations (2004), The Jacobean Union: Co-edited with Bruce Galloway, (1985). He has also written many articles including Witchcraft, Magic and Demonology: A Twelve- Volume Anthology of Scholarly Articles (1992).
New Perspectives on Witchcraft, Magic and Demonology: A Six-Volume
Anthology of Articles, (2001) and The Witchcraft Sourcebook, (2003).
Table of Contents
1. Introduction 2. The Intellectual Foundations 3. The Legal Foundations 4. The Impact of the Reformation 5. The Social Context 6. The Dynamics of Witch Hunting 7. The Chronology and geography of Witch-hunting 8. Decline and survival
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