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.
Table of Contents
Introduction: THE WITCH-HUNT AND YOU
Chapter 1: WITCHCRAFT!
Chapter 2: TOWARDS WITCH-HUNTING
Chapter 3: WITCHCRAFT AND THE INTELLECTUALS
Chapter 4: WITCHES IN THE COMMUNITY
Chapter 5: WITCHCRAFT AND FOLK BELIEF
Chapter 6: WITCHES AND THE GODLY STATE
Chapter 7: WITCHES IN COURT
Chapter 8: THE DYNAMICS OF WITCH-HUNTING
Chapter 9: WOMEN, MEN AND WITCHCRAFT
Chapter 10: THE END OF WITCH-HUNTING
Chapter 11: PERSPECTIVES ON THE WITCH-HUNT
APPENDIX: INTENSITY OF WITCH-HUNTING IN EUROPE
Julian Goodare is Reader in History at the University of Edinburgh. His previous books include The Government of Scotland, 1560–1625 (2004), and (as editor) Scottish Witches and Witch-Hunters (2013). He is Director of the online Survey of Scottish Witchcraft.
Featured Author Profiles
"This is a wonderful work, with real pace, clarity and sparkle which combines excellent scholarship with a full recognition of the emotive quality of the material. It will exactly suit the intelligent, enquiring and thoughtful among students and general readers, and be of real interest and value to scholars."
Ronald E. Hutton, University of Bristol, UK
"This book excellently presents the different layers of meaning of witchcraft and witch trials all over Europe. Julian Goodare combines a sublime understanding of the topic with a personal interpretation in writing about one of the greatest enigmas in history: What was a witch and why were witches persecuted by their neighbors as well as by the state? The book provides a most fruitful resource for students and scholars in presenting new research and new perspectives on the history of witchcraft."
Rita Voltmer, University of Trier, Germany
"Julian Goodare's The European Witch-Hunt is a valuable addition to the study of early modern witchcraft and witch-hunting. Goodare devotes extra attention to explaining the mentalities, both illiterate and erudite, that converged to create the stereotype of the witch. His explanations of recurrent themes in ideas about witchcraft will be particularly helpful to students and prepares them for a better understanding of primary texts and more specialized secondary studies."
Walter Stephens, John Hopkins University, USA
“In this illuminating book, Goodare (Univ. of Edinburgh, Scotland) explores the subjects of witches and witch-hunts in early modern Europe, 1400–1750, maintaining that these years rather than the Middle Ages were the "witch years." He makes it clear that "although everyone feared witches, they did not all fear them in the same way" and offers readers a linked, fourfold concept of witchcraft to support this view … An excellent bibliography, a map, charts, and a helpful appendix accompany the book, which complements studies by Brian Levack, The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe (CH, Sep'87; 4th ed. 2016); Robin Briggs, Witches & Neighbors (1996); and Lyndal Roper, Witch Craze (CH, Nov'05, 43-1819)."
L. B. Gimelli, Eastern Michigan University