Witchcraft in Tudor and Stuart England
From Malcolm's list on witch hunting in Britain and Europe.
Originally published in 1970, this was another foundational text for me and other witchcraft scholars of my generation.
It grew out of Macfarlane’s doctoral thesis focusing on Essex, which had been supervised by Keith Thomas, whose own great book, Religion and the Decline of Magic (much of which dealt with witches), came out the following year. Even then, the historian Macfarlane was on his way to becoming an anthropologist – a transition visible on every page of this fascinating book.
But its overriding character is that of a work of sociology. Social science models helped to impose interpretative order on the kind of archival information dug up by C. L’Estange Ewen, and connected a rise in witchcraft accusations to a number of strains in late-sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century English life, especially economic strains.
Although their interpretations differ in substance and emphasis, Macfarlane and Thomas are still associated with a paradigm…