Witchcraft: A History in Thirteen Trials (Hardback)Marion Gibson (author)
From colonial Africa to Jazz Age Pennsylvania, Gibson traces the shocking history of witchcraft across the globe through thirteen trials and the stories of many of the accused women.
Witchfinder General, Salem, Malleus Maleficarum. The world of witch-hunts and witch trials sounds archaic and fanciful, these terms relics of an unenlightened, brutal age. However, we often hear 'witch-hunt' in today's media, and the misogyny that shaped witch trials is all too familiar. Three women were prosecuted under a version of the 1735 Witchcraft Act as recently as 2018.
In Witchcraft, Professor Marion Gibson uses thirteen significant trials to tell the global history of witchcraft and witch-hunts. As well as exploring the origins of witch-hunts through some of the most famous trials from the Middle Ages to the eighteenth century, it takes us in new and surprising directions. It shows us how witchcraft was reimagined by lawyers and radical historians in France, how suspicions of sorcery led to murder in Jazz Age Pennsylvania, the effects of colonialism and Christian missionary zeal on 'witches' in Africa, and how even today a witch trial can come in many guises.
Professor Gibson also tells the stories of the 'witches' - mostly women like Helena Scheuberin, Anny Sampson and Joan Wright, whose stories have too often been overshadowed by those of the powerful men, such as King James I and 'Witchfinder General' Matthew Hopkins, who hounded them.
Once a tool invented by demonologists to hurt and silence their enemies, witch trials have been twisted and transformed over the course of history and the lines between witch and witch-hunter blurred. For the fortunate, a witch-hunt is just a metaphor, but, as this book makes clear, witches are truly still on trial.
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd
Number of pages: 320
Weight: 5443 g
Dimensions: 234 x 153 x 24 mm
'These stories of witchcraft, true and vividly told, demonstrate the potent reality of belief in evil and how in any era or place fear can be weaponised and marginal people, mostly women, labelled as wicked and dangerous. Together they comprise not just a history of witchcraft but a cautionary tale of the uncomfortably human habits of paranoia and persecution.' - Malcolm Gaskill, author of The Ruin of All Witches
'It is wonderful to come across a book that breathes such fresh life and energy into a well-worked subject, covering a huge range of time and space with a unified, passionate and convincing message. Any expert is going to learn something new from it, any newcomer to be enthralled and motivated.' - Ronald Hutton, author of The Witch
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“An interesting overview”
This is an interesting and well writtern account of many of the witch trials you might expect, and others you probably won't.
I found the chapter on the eitches of the Vardo (an area in Sweden) particularly... More
“An enjoyable read”
This book paces well-trodden ground but manages to offer something fresh- links between the witch trials of the early modern period to events in today's world. The author also manages to restore some agency to... More
“Fact meets fictional prose”
As someone who has tried to read books on the history of witchcraft and sadly failed to find one that fits my rhythmic reading style, I think I've finally found one! I appreciate that it's split up into 13... More
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