Witchcraft has always intrigued the imagination, sparking visions of Macbeths hags, complete with heathland and bubbling cauldrons. But throughout European history, particularly from the 14th- to the 17th-century, ordinary people were tried and put to death for witchcraft, often in a brutal and grotesque manner. So who were the witches? What were their practises? Who believed in them? What was their place in society? Why were they so feared? How were they accused, tried and executed? Robin Briggs attempts to answer these questions, broadening his scope as he looks beyond the persecutions themselves, to concentrate upon the society they illuminate. Between 1560 and 1660, more people were tried for witchcraft than at any other time in history. The detailed records of many of the trials have allowed the author to build up a description of life among the European peasantry some 400 years ago: the minutiae of social life, daily activities, neighbourhood and kinship ties, the pervasive force of superstition and family relationships.
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Witches and Neighbours is a highly original and unconventional analysis of a fascinating historical phenomenon. Unlike other studies of the subject which focus on the mechanisms of persecution, this book presents a rich picture of witchcraft as an all-pervasive aspect of life in early modern Europe.
Robin Briggs combines recent research with his own investigations to produce a brilliant and compelling account of the central role of witchcraft in the past. Although the history of witchcraft can only be studied through records of persecutions, these reveal that trials were unusual in everyday life and that witchcraft can be viewed as a form of therapy. Witchcraft was also an outlet and expression of many fundamental anxieties of society and individuals in a time when life was precarious. The book argues that witchcraft - its belief and persecutions - cannot be explained by general causes but was as complex and changing as the society of which it formed a vital part.
Since its original publication in 1996, this book has become the standard work on the subject of witchcraft. It now appears in a revised edition with an updated bibliography.
This book is not available from Blackwell in the United States and the Philippines.About the Author:
Robin Briggs is Senior Research Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford where he has worked since his election as Prize Fellow in 1964. He was educated at Felsted School and Balliol College, Oxford and he is the author of The Scientific Revolution of the Seventeenth Century (1970), Early Modern France (2nd Edition 1998), and Communities of Belief: Cultural and Social Tensions in Early Modern France (1989).
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Book Description Fontana Press, 1997. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110006862098