Witchcraft in Early Modern England provides a fascinating introduction to the history of witches and witchcraft in England from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century.
Witchcraft was a crime punishable by death in England during this period and this book charts the witch panics and legal persecution of witches that followed, exploring topics such as elite attitudes to witchcraft in England, the role of pressures and tensions within the community in accusations of witchcraft, the way in which the legal system dealt with witchcraft cases, and the complex decline of belief in witchcraft. Revised and updated, this new edition explores the modern historiographical debate surrounding this subject and incorporates recent findings and interpretations of historians in the field, bringing it right up-to-date and in particular offering an extended treatment of the difficult issues surrounding gender and witchcraft.
Supported by a range of compelling primary documents, this book is essential reading for all students of the history of witchcraft.
Table of Contents
Part One: Witchcraft in Early Modern England: 1 Introduction; 2 Elite perspectives on witchcraft: demonology, the law, and educated culture; 3 Witch-trials, witchcraft accusations, and the problem of community; 4 Witch beliefs: the broader spectrum; 5 The decline of witchcraft; Part Two: Assessment: 6 Summing up; Part Three: Documents; Bibliography; Index
James Sharpe is Professor Emeritus in early modern history at the University of York. He has published extensively on the social history of England between 1550 and 1750, specialising in the history of crime and in the history of witchcraft.