The best books about the Witchcraze

Ulinka Rublack Author Of The Astronomer & the Witch: Johannes Kepler's Fight for His Mother
By Ulinka Rublack

The Books I Picked & Why

Witch Craze: Terror and Fantasy in Baroque Germany

By Lyndal Roper

Witch Craze: Terror and Fantasy in Baroque Germany

Why this book?

Many historians have tried to show that beliefs in witchcraft had a logic to them and ought to be understood in the context of climate changes and harvest failures at the time, for instance. Roper´s book is so important because it returns to a close reading of the trial records and shows that there was something quite crazy going on in many of these fantasies about women boiling the bodies of babies they had killed or attacking one cow after another. She also argues that we need to explain why eighty percent of all accusations were made against women, and that this related to deep-seated fears about fertility.


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Imagining the Witch: Emotions, Gender, and Selfhood in Early Modern Germany

By Laura Kounine

Imagining the Witch: Emotions, Gender, and Selfhood in Early Modern Germany

Why this book?

Kounine closely looks at accusations of men and of women in order to better understand what made each of them vulnerable. A great writer, she engages with the emotional worlds that are revealed and tell us so much about ordinary Lutheran communities and their values.


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The Witches of Lorraine

By Robin Briggs

The Witches of Lorraine

Why this book?

Alongside Germany, Lorraine was another hotspot of accusations and Briggs has worked over decades in local archives to analyse the patterns of accusations and paint a vivid picture of village life. His book underlines how complex sets of factors worked together, often over many years, to result in accusations and, in some cases, in executions.


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Religion and the Decline of Magic: Studies in Popular Beliefs in Sixteenth and Seventeenth-Century England

By Keith Thomas

Religion and the Decline of Magic: Studies in Popular Beliefs in Sixteenth and Seventeenth-Century England

Why this book?

This classic study is now fifty years old and focuses on England. It looks at ideas about witchcraft in the context of entire worldviews in which beliefs about astrology thrived and most people wore amulets to protect themselves from spirits. It chronicles change over time and, while its arguments have been much debated since, provides a wide-ranging account that remains inspiring.


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Witchcraft: A Very Short Introduction

By Malcolm Gaskill

Witchcraft: A Very Short Introduction

Why this book?

A concise, reliable, and well-written introduction to ideas about witchcraft and the history of the persecution across the world and into modernity. It is everything the title says – a very short introduction, and ranges from the Americas, and the famous trials of Salem, to other continents. Europe´s witchcraze is framed in a global perspective.


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