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Macmillan Higher Education Palgrave Higher Education

Heresy, Magic and Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe

ISBN 9780333754344
Publication Date September 2003
Formats Paperback Ebook (EPUB) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Series European Culture and Society Series

In the fifteenth century many authorities did not believe Inquisitors' stories of a supposed Satanic witch sect. However, the religious conflict of the sixteenth-century Reformation - especially popular movements of reform and revolt - helped to create an atmosphere in which diabolical conspiracies (which swept up religious dissidents, Jews and magicians into their nets) were believed to pose a very real threat. Fear of the Devil and his followers inspired horrific incidents of judicially-approved terror in early modern Europe, leading after 1560 to the infamous witch hunts.

Bringing together the fields of Reformation and witchcraft studies, this fascinating book reveals how the early modern period's religious conflicts led to widespread confusion and uncertainty. Gary K. Waite examines in-depth how church leaders dispelled rising religious doubt by persecuting heretics, and how alleged infernal plots, and witches who confessed to making a pact with the Devil, helped the authorities to reaffirm orthodoxy. Waite argues that it was only when the authorities came to terms with pluralism that there was a corresponding decline in witch panics.

GARY K. WAITE is Professor of History at the University of New Brunswick, Canada.

The Devil, Magic and Heresy in the Later Middle Ages
The Reformation and the End of the World
Heresy, Doubt and Demonising the 'Other'
The Reformation, Magic and Witchcraft 1520-1600
Religious Conflict and the Rise of Witch Hunting 1562-1630
Religious Pluralism and the End of the Witch Hunts
Annotated Bibliography


'This book is timely in offering a clear view of how heresy and witchcraft connected, how they were reflected in contemporary religious debates, and how a number of differing positions about witchcraft in particular could be held. It is an excellent book which demonstrates original thinking and wide scholarship, and will be an important addition to works on witchcraft, and particularly to works which students are being encouraged to read.' - Jim Sharpe, University of York'Not just another account of witch 'persecution', but specific and incisive.' - Dr Marion Gibson, University of Exeter
'This is a well-organized, erudite and admirably lucid account of the 'witch-craze', especially valuable for the way it bridges the medieval and early modern eras.' - Dr Malcolm Gaskill, University of Cambridge
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