This book is about the significance of witchcraft in English public life (c.1650-c.1750), and deals with contemporary opinion regarding its theological, philosophical, and legal dimensions. Ian Bostridge discusses civil war politics, the writings of Thomas Hobbes, the debate about witchcraft at the time of the Glorious Revolution, and the disputes surrounding the repeal of Jacobean witchcraft legislation in 1736. He also examines the work of less familiar writers and propagandists such as Richard Boulton, Francis Hutchinson, and James Erskine of Grange, and balances this account of the gradual demise of witchcraft theory in Britain with a comparative case study of the debate in France. Finally, by asserting that witchcraft remained a serious topic of debate well into the eighteenth century, and that its descent into polite ridicule had as much to do with politics as with the birth of reason, Witchcraft and its Transformations offers a lively critique of current interpretations of English popular culture and political change.
Publisher: Oxford University Press