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Macmillan Higher Education Palgrave Higher Education

A History of Science, Magic and Belief

From Medieval to Early Modern Europe

ISBN 9781137029775
Publication Date January 2015
Formats Hardcover Ebook Paperback 
Publisher Palgrave

A History of Science, Magic and Belief is an exploration of the origins of modern society through the culture of the middle ages and early modern period. By examining the intertwined paths of three different systems for interpreting the world, it seeks to create a narrative which culminates in the birth of modernity. It looks at the tensions and boundaries between science and magic throughout the middle ages and how they were affected by elite efforts to rationalise society, often through religion. The witch-crazes of the sixteenth and seventeenth century are seen as a pivotal point, and the emergence from these into social peace is deemed possible due to the Scientific Revolution and the politics of the early modern state.

This book is unique in drawing together the histories of science, magic and religion. It is thus an ideal book for those studying any or all of these topics, and with its broad time frame, it is also suitable for students of the history of Europe or Western civilisation in general.

Steven P. Marrone is Professor of History at Tufts University, USA.

1. Superstition, Science and Magic, 200 BCE–1200 CE
2. Popular Belief and the Rationalization of Religion, 700–1300
3. Science, Magic and the Demonic, 1200–1400: The Catalyst
4. Science, Magic and the Demonic, 1200–1400: The Reaction
5. The Witchcraze and the Crisis of Early Modern Europe, 1400–1650
6. Desacralized Science and Social Control, 1500–1700


“This is a wide-ranging book, which scholars and students alike will find useful. Steven P. Marrone examines the religious and scientific discourses that the modern world tends to separate, but which once flowed together in a single stream of knowledge and enquiry. … Marrone has read widely, uses vivid examples, tells a good story, and simplifies some complex ideas about medieval magic to make them intelligible to lay readers.” (Malcolm Gaskill, European History Quarterly, Vol. 46 (4), 2016)|Marrone's book is an insightful exploration of the interplay between magic, science, and religion in the intellectual tradition of Europe from the Middle Ages through to the end of the early modern period, and of the interplay between that intellectual tradition and developments in society, politics, and the broader culture that led first to the demonization of magic, then to the persecution of witches, and finally to the disenchantment of the modern world.' – Edward Bever, State University of New York College at Old Westbury, USA
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