100 books like Witch Hunting in Southwestern Germany, 1562-1684

By H. C. Erik Midelfort,

Here are 100 books that Witch Hunting in Southwestern Germany, 1562-1684 fans have personally recommended if you like Witch Hunting in Southwestern Germany, 1562-1684. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Witch Craze: Terror and Fantasy in Baroque Germany

Lu Ann Homza Author Of Village Infernos and Witches' Advocates: Witch-Hunting in Navarre, 1608-1614

From my list on the trauma of European witch-hunting.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of early modern Europe, with a research focus on Spain and Italy. I first encountered archival documents from the Spanish Inquisition during research for my first book: I was already a fan of religious history but quickly became a fan of studying the law. I am fascinated by the ways in which people between the 1500s and 1700s used the legal systems at their disposal to recapture honor and pursue enemies. I am always on the lookout for ways in which religious prescriptions from centralized authorities did not match what was happening on the ground with ordinary, usually illiterate people.

Lu's book list on the trauma of European witch-hunting

Lu Ann Homza Why did Lu love this book?

No one does a better job of explaining the links between witchcraft accusations and fears over fertility than Roper.

Her ability to connect witches’ stereotypical activities—murder, cannibalism, sex with the Devil, and so on—with the demographic and subsistence crises of early modern Germany is remarkable.

She is an incredibly sensitive reader of primary sources.

By Lyndal Roper,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Witch Craze as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A powerful account of witches, crones, and the societies that make them

From the gruesome ogress in Hansel and Gretel to the hags at the sabbath in Faust, the witch has been a powerful figure of the Western imagination. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries thousands of women confessed to being witches-of making pacts with the Devil, causing babies to sicken, and killing animals and crops-and were put to death. This book is a gripping account of the pursuit, interrogation, torture, and burning of witches during this period and beyond.

Drawing on hundreds of original trial transcripts and other rare…


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

Lu Ann Homza Author Of Village Infernos and Witches' Advocates: Witch-Hunting in Navarre, 1608-1614

From my list on the trauma of European witch-hunting.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of early modern Europe, with a research focus on Spain and Italy. I first encountered archival documents from the Spanish Inquisition during research for my first book: I was already a fan of religious history but quickly became a fan of studying the law. I am fascinated by the ways in which people between the 1500s and 1700s used the legal systems at their disposal to recapture honor and pursue enemies. I am always on the lookout for ways in which religious prescriptions from centralized authorities did not match what was happening on the ground with ordinary, usually illiterate people.

Lu's book list on the trauma of European witch-hunting

Lu Ann Homza Why did Lu love this book?

For the last twenty-five years, historians have been convinced that witch suspects drew on their personal histories as they confessed to being the Devil’s disciples.

Kounine flips that presumption on its head by asking how the processes of interrogations and torture might actually create a self-identity of being a witch, a category that was more flexible and nuanced than we might have expected.

By Laura Kounine,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Imagining the Witch as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Imagining the Witch explores emotions, gender, and selfhood through the lens of witch-trials in early modern Germany. Witch-trials were clearly a gendered phenomenon, but witchcraft was not a uniquely female crime. While women constituted approximately three quarters of those tried for witchcraft in the Holy Roman Empire, a significant minority were men. Witchcraft was also a crime of unbridled passion: it centred on the notion that one person's emotions
could have tangible and deadly physical consequences. Yet it is also true that not all suspicions of witchcraft led to a formal accusation, and not all witch-trials led to the stake.…


Book cover of Witches & Neighbors: The Social And Cultural Context of European Witchcraft

Lu Ann Homza Author Of Village Infernos and Witches' Advocates: Witch-Hunting in Navarre, 1608-1614

From my list on the trauma of European witch-hunting.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of early modern Europe, with a research focus on Spain and Italy. I first encountered archival documents from the Spanish Inquisition during research for my first book: I was already a fan of religious history but quickly became a fan of studying the law. I am fascinated by the ways in which people between the 1500s and 1700s used the legal systems at their disposal to recapture honor and pursue enemies. I am always on the lookout for ways in which religious prescriptions from centralized authorities did not match what was happening on the ground with ordinary, usually illiterate people.

Lu's book list on the trauma of European witch-hunting

Lu Ann Homza Why did Lu love this book?

This book should never go out of print, and for good reason: it is so smart and so very readable.

Briggs persuasively assesses the village contexts that played into witchcraft accusations and confessions in early modern Europe.

He clearly explains the crucial contexts of debt, feuds, and local relationships behind witchcraft allegations, and provides important insights into questions of gender and age. His evidence is compelling.

By Robin Briggs,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Witches & Neighbors as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In his remarkable and compelling interpretation of the course and causes of the fear and persecution of witches that bedeviled Europe for centuries, Briggs draws on the latest research into the local realities underlying the phenomenon. In particular, he employs his own extensive work in the rich archives hidden away in those Franco-German borderlands in which so many cases became known. Briggs reveals how ordinary people diverted ordinary and not-so-ordinary grievances into a complex structure of blaming and scapegoating. Villagers inhabited a harsh and dangerous world, where real and fantastic fears mingled.
Through his study of real cases and real…


Book cover of The Salem Witch Hunt: A Brief History with Documents

Lu Ann Homza Author Of Village Infernos and Witches' Advocates: Witch-Hunting in Navarre, 1608-1614

From my list on the trauma of European witch-hunting.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of early modern Europe, with a research focus on Spain and Italy. I first encountered archival documents from the Spanish Inquisition during research for my first book: I was already a fan of religious history but quickly became a fan of studying the law. I am fascinated by the ways in which people between the 1500s and 1700s used the legal systems at their disposal to recapture honor and pursue enemies. I am always on the lookout for ways in which religious prescriptions from centralized authorities did not match what was happening on the ground with ordinary, usually illiterate people.

Lu's book list on the trauma of European witch-hunting

Lu Ann Homza Why did Lu love this book?

Godbeer’s introductory essay to this collection of primary sources is a model of clarity and up-to-date findings about America’s most famous witch hunt.

His scholarship has all the right pieces: attention to the often young female accusers, an exposition of how and why Puritanism highlighted the diabolical as a constant fear, and an assessment of potential failures of masculinity among the accused men.

By Richard Godbeer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Salem Witch Hunt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Get a clearer understanding of why the Salem Witch Trials actually took place as Salem Witch Hunt explores how gender norms, social tensions, and the Puritan's worldview influenced this infamous period in colonial history.


Book cover of The Astronomer & the Witch: Johannes Kepler's Fight for His Mother

Joel F. Harrington Author Of The Faithful Executioner: Life and Death, Honor and Shame in the Turbulent Sixteenth Century

From my list on the European witch craze.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the Centennial Professor of history at Vanderbilt University. I have been reading and teaching about witchcraft and the occult for over thirty years. This is a topic that never fails to engage people of all backgrounds and has generated a plethora of books, some good, many not. I look for authors who understand the passions, psychology, and experiences of both accusers and supposed witches, while also exploring what it is about certain societies that leads to such claims being taken seriously, often with fatal results. The books I picked vividly convey the reality of the witch craze, while also asking some probing questions about persecutions in general.  

Joel's book list on the European witch craze

Joel F. Harrington Why did Joel love this book?

The fascinating and moving story of the famous astronomer’s reluctant defense of his obstreperous mother, where not just his reputation but her life are at stake. We get an in-depth sense of how the combination of local animosities and popular superstitions gradually gather momentum over time until some tipping point brings them into the legal arena. I especially liked Rublack’s sympathetic portrayal of a famous scholar struggling with his own origins and sense of familial duty. A personal, family story, as early modern witchcraft cases often were. 

By Ulinka Rublack,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Astronomer & the Witch as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) was one of the most admired astronomers who ever lived and a key figure in the scientific revolution. A defender of Copernicuss sun-centred universe, he famously discovered that planets move in ellipses, and defined the three laws of planetary motion. Perhaps less well known is that in 1615, when Kepler was at the height of his career, his widowed mother Katharina was accused of witchcraft. The proceedings led to a criminal trial
that lasted six years, with Kepler conducting his mother's defence.

In The Astronomer and the Witch, Ulinka Rublack pieces together the tale of this extraordinary…


Book cover of The Last Witch of Langenburg: Murder in a German Village

Joel F. Harrington Author Of The Faithful Executioner: Life and Death, Honor and Shame in the Turbulent Sixteenth Century

From my list on the European witch craze.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the Centennial Professor of history at Vanderbilt University. I have been reading and teaching about witchcraft and the occult for over thirty years. This is a topic that never fails to engage people of all backgrounds and has generated a plethora of books, some good, many not. I look for authors who understand the passions, psychology, and experiences of both accusers and supposed witches, while also exploring what it is about certain societies that leads to such claims being taken seriously, often with fatal results. The books I picked vividly convey the reality of the witch craze, while also asking some probing questions about persecutions in general.  

Joel's book list on the European witch craze

Joel F. Harrington Why did Joel love this book?

As advertised, a late case of witchcraft (although not as late as Salem thirty years later—further proof of American backwardness in Europeans’ eyes). A kind of seventeenth-century "Law and Order,” where we follow one case of alleged poisoning from the beginning to the end, from the different perspectives of practically everyone involved.  Another heart-wrenching family drama among people known to each other all their lives. I especially liked the nuanced treatment of the legal investigator and other specialists for the prosecution. Perhaps a bit too lengthy, but I found it easy to glide over a few specialized sections in favor of detailed dramatizations of several key confrontations. 

By Thomas Robisheaux,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Last Witch of Langenburg as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On the night of the festive holiday of Shrove Tuesday in 1672 Anna Fessler died after eating one of her neighbor's buttery cakes. Could it have been poisoned? Drawing on vivid court documents, eyewitness accounts, and an early autopsy report, historian Thomas Robisheaux brings the story to life. Exploring one of Europe's last witch panics, he unravels why neighbors and the court magistrates became convinced that Fessler's neighbor Anna Schmieg was a witch-one of several in the area-ensnared by the devil. Once arrested, Schmieg, the wife of the local miller, and her daughter were caught up in a high-stakes drama…


Book cover of Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch

Ana Veciana-Suarez Author Of Dulcinea

From my list on bringing to life the forgotten Baroque Age.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became fascinated with 16th-century and 17th-century Europe after reading Don Quixote many years ago. Since then, every novel or nonfiction book about that era has felt both ancient and contemporary. I’m always struck by how much our environment has changed—transportation, communication, housing, government—but also how little we as people have changed when it comes to ambition, love, grief, and greed. I doubled down my reading on that time period when I researched my novel, Dulcinea. Many people read in the eras of the Renaissance, World War II, or ancient Greece, so I’m hoping to introduce them to the Baroque Age. 

Ana's book list on bringing to life the forgotten Baroque Age

Ana Veciana-Suarez Why did Ana love this book?

I picked this book up, thinking it might have to do with witch trials in Europe during the 17th Century, and in a peripheral way, it does because it’s very loosely based on the life of Katharina Kepler, the mother of famous astronomer Johannes Kepler. (And really, how can you resist the title.) But the novel delivered so much more.

It’s a witty, searing meditation on community, gossip and envy, the strictures of society, the corruption of power, and a woman’s determination to be her own person. Add to that some of the funniest, most absurd situations I’ve read in a long while. Some sections of the novel are truly laugh-aloud.

By Rivka Galchen,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The startling, witty, highly anticipated second novel from the critically acclaimed author of Atmospheric Disturbances.

The story begins in 1618, in the German duchy of Württemberg. Plague is spreading. The Thirty Years' War has begun, and fear and suspicion are in the air throughout the Holy Roman Empire. In the small town of Leonberg, Katharina Kepler is accused of being a witch.

Katharina is an illiterate widow, known by her neighbors for her herbal remedies and the success of her children, including her eldest, Johannes, who is the Imperial Mathematician and renowned author of the laws of planetary motion. It's…


Book cover of The Secret Healer

Stephen W. Bartlett Author Of The Bridal Prospectus

From my list on romance without sappy character introspection.

Why am I passionate about this?

I like to write more than I like to read, but when I do read, I want to learn about other places and times besides my own. Since my own novels are contemporary fiction, it makes sense that historical fiction is my favorite category to read. Likewise, my interest in romance isn’t from unrequited love, but rather, a desire to explore the difficulties of choosing a life partner in our complicated world. (Even my detective novels contain romance!) But I don’t like sappy introspective thought processes, a variation of teen angst, and most readers of historical romance have this same aversion. So none of my recommendations will be that way. 

Stephen's book list on romance without sappy character introspection

Stephen W. Bartlett Why did Stephen love this book?

Terry Laster, who translated this work from the German original, does a masterful job of expressing the situation in 14th-century Heidelberg when a female secretly heals patients and for her success, is accused of performing works of the devil. In their ignorance, the town council appoints her husband, a lawyer, to discover her identity. How this story resolves is a testament to the power of good works and encourages me when I face opposition from ignorant people. 

By Ellin Carsta, Terry Laster (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Secret Healer as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the fourteenth century, opportunities for women are limited to the home. But spirited young Madlen finds her calling as assistant to the city's trusted midwife, Clara. Working alongside Clara, Madlen develops a surprisingly soothing technique and quickly becomes a talented healer.

After Clara's tragic death, Madlen alone rushes to assist the birth of a local nobleman's child. But rather than the joy of birth, Madlen walks into an accusation of murder and witchcraft because of her extraordinary gifts. Forced to flee her own town, she establishes a new identity in the home of her aunt. Yet even though it…


Book cover of Witch Hunting and Witch Trials

Malcolm Gaskill Author Of Witchfinders: A Seventeenth-Century English Tragedy

From my list on witch hunting in Britain and Europe.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an Emeritus Professor of Early Modern History at the University of East Anglia and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. I taught history for many years at several UK universities, and I was the Director of Studies in History at Churchill College, Cambridge. I am the author of six books, including Hellish Nell: Last of Britain’s Witches and Witchcraft: A Very Short Introduction. His latest book, The Ruin of All Witches: Life and Death in the New World, will be published in November by Penguin. I live in Cambridge, England, and I am married with three children.

Malcolm's book list on witch hunting in Britain and Europe

Malcolm Gaskill Why did Malcolm love this book?

This was the book that got me started over thirty years ago, and which I still turn to today. It’s an absolute mine of information, specifically relating to the written indictments for witchcraft which survive in great numbers for the Home Assize Circuit – that is, the courts that heard felonies in south-eastern England.

Ewen doesn’t provide much in the way of analysis. There is a substantial, very useful, introduction, but the really incredible thing about this book is how Ewen managed to comb through the archives, then held in the Public Records Office in London, and find almost all of the witchcraft indictments hidden there. He was an amazing researcher, who provided raw data for subsequent generations of historians.

Among many findings that can be drawn from his research are that, outside the peculiar spike in trials in the mid-1640s (the subject of my book, Witchfinders), English witch-trials peaked…

By C L'Estrange Ewen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Witch Hunting and Witch Trials as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Originally published in 1929, the author presents a formidable collection of facts, brought together in a scholarly manner. This is an examination of the general history of witchcraft, its changing laws and legal procedures, as well as methods of interrogation and punishment. This book must be considered an essential reference work for every student of witch lore.


Book cover of Death in Salem: The Private Lives Behind the 1692 Witch Hunt

Diana Rubino Author Of For The Love Of Hawthorne

From my list on the 1692 “witch” hunts in Salem Village.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write historical and biographical novels, and have had a fascination with the Salem witch trials since childhood. With my first visit to Salem, I felt a strong connection to my surroundings and its history. When I walked through the House of the Seven Gables for the first time, I felt I’d been there before. Three past-life regressions brought me back to 17th century Salem. In my biographical novel For The Love Of Hawthorne, I delved deeply into the soul of my favorite author, his devoted wife, and the shame his family suffered at the hand of his ancestor Judge Hathorne. The story came from my heart, as I lived their story along with them. 

Diana's book list on the 1692 “witch” hunts in Salem Village

Diana Rubino Why did Diana love this book?

Diane Foulds, a descendant of one of the victims condemned to death during the Salem Witch Trials, thoroughly researched many of the people involved in the events that led to the execution of 19 innocent victims. I am not a descendant, but these events have fascinated me since childhood, because they were so outlandish and led to such unnecessary tragedy. In this book you will learn about not only the victims, but the ‘afflicted’ young girls whose wild, unfounded accusations and theatrics during the trials convinced the judges that many people were witches. It is easy to connect with each individual, as the book centers on them, to understand why the entire episode was character-driven. It is even easier to sympathize with the victims and appreciate how they suffered. 

By Diane E. Foulds,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Death in Salem as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Salem witchcraft will always have a magnetic pull on the American psyche. During the 1692 witch trials, more than 150 people were arrested. An estimated 25 million Americans-including author Diane Foulds-are descended from the twenty individuals executed. What happened to our ancestors? Death in Salem is the first book to take a clear-eyed look at this complex time, by examining the lives of the witch trial participants from a personal perspective. Massachusetts settlers led difficult lives; every player in the Salem drama endured hardships barely imaginable today. Mercy Short, one of the "bewitched" girls, watched as Indians butchered her parents;…


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