From the Back Cover
"Brian Levack's aims are to provide a coherent introduction to the subject and contribute to an ongoing scholarly debate. In both these aims - but particularly in the former - he has succeeded magnificently. ...it will serve as a standard introduction to the topic for many years to come." So wrote Brian Easlea in the English Historical Review of this famous book when it first appeared in 1987. It focuses on the great age of witch-hunting in Europe (and also in colonial America), between 1450 and 1750. In these years more than 100,000 people - most of them women - were prosecuted by secular and ecclesiastical courts across Europe for allegedly practising harmful magic and worshipping the Devil. The book sets out to answer the major questions that this strange and terrible phenomenon evokes today: * Why did the trials take place? * Why did they suddenly proliferate in Europe at this time? How many trials were there, and where, and what were their outcomes? * Why were more witches prosecuted in some countries than others? * Who were the accused and who were their accusers? * Why, after more than 200 years of vigorous activity, did the trials eventually dwindle away? * What do they tell us about the social, economic and political history of early modern Europe - and, in particular, the position of women within it? In this timely Second Edition, Brian Levack now incorporates the latest scholarship on the subject. The general lines of his argument remain as before, but numerous new regional and local studies (many on the periphery of Europe) have made possible a fuller treatment of the witch-hunt, and a more detailed analysis of its chronological and geographical distribution. He also includes new material on the development of witch-beliefs in the Middle Ages; on the social dimension of witchcraft; and on the connection between witch-hunting and the Protestant and Catholic Reformations. The notes and bibliography have been greatly expanded, and the book has been entirely reset. "(He) has produced a valuable synthesis of the materials currently available, and his text will prove a lifeline to many students."Martin Ingram, European History Quarterly "Now, at last, with Brian Levack's careful, scholarly and critical survey, a thoroughly reliable introduction to the whole literature is available. Levack appears to have read every significant work, both new and old and in most relevant languages, and has judiciously sifted out the information, pondered on it, and come up with balanced and sensible verdicts."Henry Kamen, History Today "Levack's logical sorting of a prodigious amount of material has resulted in one of the most informative and comprehensive works of its genre."Hans Sebald, American Historical Review BRIAN P. LEVACK is Professor of History in the University of Texas at Austin.