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The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europeby Brian P. Levack
Synopses & Reviews
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).
Book News Annotation:
Levack (history, U. of Texas at Austin) examines the reasons why the great witch-hunt took place, why it reached its peak in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, why it was more prevalent in some places, and why it subsided. Working from the vast literature on the subject he analyzes the intellectual and legal foundations, the impact of the precepts of the Reformation and the social context, the typical and atypical dynamics of a regional or local witch-hunt, and the decline of the practice in Europe. This new edition includes material from recent literature and from Levack's study of witch-hunting in contemporary Africa. Annotation ©2006 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. This, the revised third edition, offers student and expert alike immediate access to an overwhelming secondary literature, establishing it as the essential starting point for the study of early modern witch-beliefs and witchcraft trials.
Dr Malcolm Gaskill, Universityof Cambridge
"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
An enthralling and exceptional study, Levack focuses on the great age of witch-hunting in Europe(and also in colonial America), between 1450 and 1750. He discusses how in these years more than 100,000 people - most of them women - were prosecuted for allegedly practising harmful magic and worshipping the Devil. He sets out to answer who the accused and accusers were but most importantly Why, after more than 200 years of vigorous activity, did the trials eventually dwindle away?
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.
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
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. The decline and end of witch-hunting
9. Witch-hunting after the trials
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