: The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe (): Brian P. Levack: Books. The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe has ratings and 28 reviews. Katie said: This is a nice & sober recounting of a subject that’s often pretty sens. The Witch-Hunt in Modern Europe by Brian Levack proved to be an interesting as well as insightful look at the intriguing world of the European practice of.
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The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe
Return to Book Page. This famous book focuses on the great age of witch-hunting in Europe and colonial America between and It examines why the witch-trials took place; how many trials and victims there were, and where; why their incidence was so uneven in Europe; who accused whom; and why witch-hunting eventually petered out.
In the process it illuminates the social, economic and This famous book focuses on the great age of witch-hunting in Europe and colonial America between and In the process it illuminates the social, economic and political history of early modern Europe, and in particular the position of women within it. For this Second Edition, Brian Levack has revised his text to take account of scholarship since The notes and references have been greatly expanded, and the entire text reset.
Paperbackpages. Published April 14th tge Pearson first published To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. Lists with This Book. thw
May 15, Katie rated it liked it Shelves: Levack argues that the two long-term causes of the rise of witchcraft accusations in the 16th and 17th century were the prominence of the devil in witchcraft accusations and levxck involvement of local, secular courts in prosecutions.
The concept of witchcraft was very old, but in the past it had usually centered on the concept of maleficia: This was always frowned upon, but things were taken to a new height when the emphasis shifted to the diabolical aspect of witcch which likely had trickled down from the medieval court magicians, who claimed sitch be able to command demons for the sake of good. This made everything quite a bit uglier, primarily because it transformed witchcraft from a crime to an act of heresy.
This allowed for the local secular court to step in. Interestingly, secular courts were nearly always stricter in witchcraft persecutions than ecclesiastical ones. Regions where justice was decentralized – particularly the Holy Roman Empire and Scotland – saw the worst bursts of violence and accusations, while areas of centralized ecclesiastical justice like Spain saw very few. The Spanish Inquisition is not known as a bastion of tolerance, but if you were accused of being a witch it was probably one of the best places to be tried.
In the end, he argues that despite all of these overarching tne, most persecutions were local and were caused by local events. They eventually petered out as it became increasingly clear that many accusations were entirely specious and as ecclesiastical authors and jurists promoted heavy skepticism about the reality of or the ability to identify witchcraft. It’s a relatively dry book, and if you’re looking for a lot of exciting and salacious witchcraft stories there are better places to go.
But if you want a balanced, sober account of things, this is a great intro. This book has been hailed as the best primer on European witchcraft. It is beloved by some of my historian colleagues. It is, on a whole, well-written, thoughtful, and as far as I can tell comprehensive.
It attempts to answer why the great European witch-hunt happened. But it just really does not hold my attention. I’m not, by any means, an Early Modernist, European historian, or particularly interested in maleficia or religion. I am much more familiar with 18th, 19th, and 20th century, nationa This book has been hailed as the best tje on European witchcraft. I am much lwvack familiar with 18th, 19th, and 20th century, nationalism, citizenship, race, and transnationality.
But in a way, wiych you consider that citizenship is a club thank youRobert Parkinsonit is interesting to conceive of those hun by secular law for maleficia as outcasts in European society. Now, that train of thought veers into lots of religious rivulets: Reformation, Counter-Reformation, Inquisition, wars of religion, religious zeal, stamping down paganism, etc.
Levack lists a whole slew of reasons, but he also writes: Levack continues, “The complexity of the great European witch-hunt is evident not only in an analysis of leevack causes but also in a study of its chronological and geographical development. Uhnt, chronology is, you know, timely. But the geographical uhnt is a far most interesting approach to an overall view of the European hjnt. So, yes, definitely read chapter seven.
Levack applies broad regions to this analysis including: History is often levcak complicated and unruly beast, but Levack tries to tame the animal into broad strokes of time and place. By far, the most interesting two sentences from this book are the following: The total number of British trials, moreover, probably did not exceed 5, and the number of executions was less than 2, and may have been as low as 1, This book is detailed and rigorous in its approach and superbly argued.
Levack explains the European witch-hunt in clear terms and gives pause for thought as to how popular superstitions, when combined with erroneous intellectual beliefs, a dubious judicial system, religious fundamentalism and economic and social unrest, can lead to the persecution and killing of those members of society who, for whatever reason, are regarded as subversive or simply as different and are therefore treated as scap This book is detailed and rigorous in its approach and superbly argued.
Levack explains the European witch-hunt in clear terms and gives pause for thought as to how popular superstitions, when combined with erroneous intellectual beliefs, a dubious judicial system, religious fundamentalism and economic and social unrest, can lead to the persecution and killing of those members of society who, for whatever reason, are regarded as subversive or simply as different and are therefore treated as scapegoats.
Most authors have their own pet theory of the main cause of the travesty personal revenge, misogyny, the Protestants, the Catholics, levaack intolerance in general, societal changes, political maneuvering, mass hysteria, etc. Brian Levack rejects the idea of a monolithic witch hunt driven by one or two all-explaining reasons.
Instead, he interacts with a wide range of primary source data and scholarly views regarding the rise, continuation, and decline of witch-hunting and argues that certain aspects of most of these views are applicable to varying degrees depending levaxk the location, size, and time of individual witch-hunts. Whether or not all of his surmises are accurate, I appreciated the relative objectivity and complexity of his approach.
One of his main themes that I found particularly interesting was his distinction between maleficia trying to cause harm through magic and diabolism the worship of the devil He does not go into whether magic actually works or the devil actually exists, but offers analysis on lvack there were people that actually attempted to practiced either or both of these supposed witches were generally accused of both.
Brian Levack’s The Witch-hunt In Modern Europe: Summary & Analysis
He argues that the practice of maleficia certainly existed to some extent, but that organized, collective diabolism was almost entirely a figment of Medieval Christian imagination. He regards this belief in diabolism hun an important precondition levac witch-hunts accelerating from the occasional burning of a disliked old woman to the wide-scale state-sponsored panics lvack consumed hundreds of victims.
It reminded me a lot of the weird Satanic Ritual Abuse panic from the 80’s and 90’s the reason a whole generation of Conservative Evangelical kids weren’t allowed to go trick-or-treating I felt like the author occasionally mischaracterized Christian especially Reformed doctrinal development and beliefs, but overall the book was well research and thoughtfully argued – a must-read if you are interested in this topic!
Good book to read as an introduction to the topic, and it has a very helpful bibliography for research! Mar 02, Siren rated it liked it Shelves: A very thorough accounting of the creation of the witch-craze, the consequent witchtrials and the end wifch this longsuffering period of our time.
: The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe (): Brian P. Levack: Books
Levack throws his net out wide in his work, stretching it quite thin at times. Leevack writing in itself is uninteresting and uninspiring. More often than not I have finished a chapter and felt like I have learned little and there are a lot of repeating.
Otherwise it is as clear an account of the proceedings that spread so wide and lasted for so long, as any A very thorough accounting of the creation of the witch-craze, the consequent witchtrials and the end of this longsuffering period of our time. Otherwise it is as clear an account of the proceedings that spread so wide and lasted for so long, as any one book could hope to achieve.
Jan 18, Lauren Bedson rated it liked it.
Levack’s work is a overview of the legal, political, economic, religious, and epidemic circumstances which he argues enabled the great witch-hunts of early modern Europe. Although witches have been a lifelong interest for me, and I was eagerly anticipating reading this book, I found it kind of disappointing, to be honest.
The scope feels too broad – Levack seldom dives deeply into the particulars of any given hunt, preferring to treat the issue in very general terms. The book is surprisingly dry Levack’s work is a overview of the legal, political, economic, religious, and epidemic circumstances which he argues enabled the great witch-hunts of early modern Europe. The book is surprisingly dry and even boring, which seems nearly impossible, treating as it does the lurid topics of torture, naked dancing, and burning at the stake, which in this book are described in the most clinical, repetitious passages.
Levack also almost never includes direct quotes from contemporaries, which would have spiced it up considerably. I did learn a few things, but the book could have been a third as long and 10 times more exciting.
Especially on the heals of Erickson’s riveting historical drama about Mary Tudor, this was pretty dull. He basically argues that two major changes in the legal system led to the early modern witch-hunt: He also connects the rise of witchcraft trials with social changes and the Reformation, but these h He basically argues that two major changes in the legal system led to the early modern witch-hunt: He also connects the rise of witchcraft trials with social changes and the Reformation, but these he sees as secondary causes.
Why did witch trials decline? A rise of secular skepiticism in the late seventeenth century and the early eighteenth century, and the emergence of the modern state that did not appreciate the local courts who dominated witch-trials flexing their muscles.
Aug 20, Kate O’Hanlon added it Shelves: The first half of the book is taken up with the causes, intellectual, judicial, social, and religious, of the witch-craze. These sections were excellent and were also a great primer for my afore mentioned loose grasp of European history.
Later in the book I found my eyes glazing over a bit especially during the chronology and geography section.
The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe by Brian P. Levack | LibraryThing
But these sections may be the ‘meat’ of the book as far as the scholars are concerned. All in all a good, if dense, read for those looking for an fairly in depth look at the European witch hunts. Apr 11, DoctorM rated it really liked it Shelves: A book I assigned to classes back in my days as an academic a fine synthesis of material based not just on Western Europe but on Eastern Europe and Russia as well hunf the timing, scale, and intensity of witch-hunting. Levack looks at the legal environment for witch trials as well as the social background of witch panics in the early modern era and sorts out the different regional and local views of what witchcraft meant and how it fit into the worldview of particular places what kind of A book I assigned witcj classes back in my days as an academic a fine synthesis of material based not just on Western Europe but on Eastern Europe and Russia as well about the timing, scale, and intensity of witch-hunting.
Levack looks at the legal environment for witch trials as well as the social background of witch panics in the early modern era and sorts out the different regional and local views of what witchcraft meant and how it lsvack into hun worldview of particular places what kind of crime was meant by “witchcraft” and what provoked both panics and renunciations of witch hunting. All in all, one of the best treatments of the issue.
May 17, Heather rated it really liked it. This is a great book analyzing tye outbreaks of witchcraft accusations and trials in Europe. He focuses mainly on thr Europe but also details the differences between England and Europe.