Witches and Neighbours: The Social and Cultural Context of European Witchcraft

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9780006862093: Witches and Neighbours: The Social and Cultural Context of European Witchcraft

Witchcraft has always intrigued the imagination, sparking visions of Macbeth's hags, complete with heathland, and bubbling cauldrons. Throughout European history, many 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? What was their place in society? How were they accused, tried and executed? Answering these questions, this comprehensive history of European witchcraft looks beyond the persecutions themselves to concentrate on the society they illuminate. Between 1560 and 1660, more people were tried for witchcraft than at any other time in history. The 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 and the pervasive force of superstition.

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Review:

"In this learned and meticulously researched book, Robin Briggs lays to rest many of the modern myths about the witch craze, without in any way diminishing its horror... Briggs skilfully shows how the myths of witchcraft were linked with fundamental human experiences of pain and anxiety... Lucid and important." Karen Armstrong, The Times

"Briggs provides a fascinating psychological insight into the ideological system that produced the trials. To understand them within their own historical context, he argues, is to realize that a belief in the witches′ power was neither irrational nor absurd... the evidence from this compelling book suggests that human actions are far more determined by irrational fears than our social selves are willing to accept." Julia Wheelwright, New Statesman

"I salute [Briggs′s] rigorous and thoughtful scholarship." James Morrow, The Guardian

From the Back Cover:

'Witches and Neighbours' combines the latest research with the author's own first-hand investigations to produce a brilliant and compelling new account of the fears and persecutions which bedevilled Europe for centuries. As its critics have noticed, it now becomes the standard work on the subject.

"In this learned and meticulously researched book, Robin Briggs lays to rest many of the modern myths about the witch craze, without in any way diminishing its horror… Briggs skilfully shows how the myths of witchcraft were linked with fundamental human experiences of pain and anxiety… Lucid and important."
KAREN ARMSTRONG, 'The Times'

How extensive – indeed how normative – was witch-belief in early modern Europe? In answering this question, Briggs brings together a vast array of evidence, a masterly synthesis of current scholarly literature, supplemented by his own extensive research in the archives of the Duchy of Lorraine. The result is a book of extraordinary range and subtlety, the most lucid (and enjoyable) introduction to this complex subject yet to appear."
JOHN ADAMSON, 'Sunday Telegraph'

"Briggs provides fascinating psychological insight into the ideological system that produced the trials. To understand them within their own historical context, he argues, is to realise that a belief in the witches' power was neither irrational not absurd… the evidence from this compelling book suggests that human actions are far more determined by irrational fears than our own social selves are willing to accept."
JULIA WHEELWRIGHT, 'New Statesman'

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Robin Briggs
Published by Fontana Press (1997)
ISBN 10: 0006862098 ISBN 13: 9780006862093
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
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Murray Media
(North Miami Beach, FL, U.S.A.)
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Book Description Fontana Press, 1997. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110006862098

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