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The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology [Hardcover]

Rossell Hope Robbins
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 552 pages
  • Publisher: Gramercy,US (1 Sep 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0517362457
  • ISBN-13: 978-0517362457
  • Product Dimensions: 24.9 x 16.3 x 5.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,073,818 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Synopsis

A compendium of information on the history, practitioners, and lore of witchcraft and sorcery.

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Customer Reviews

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4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent history of the witch hunts 1 Mar 2009
Format:Hardcover
First of all, this is NOT a book about the occult, witchcraft, spells, or demons. If you're looking for that sort of subject, you'll be very disappointed.

What it IS, is a wonderfully detailed and comprehensive historical study of the witch-hunting mania in Europe (and the American colonies) in the fifteenth through seventeenth centuries. Topics include the historical, social, and religious background to the witch mania; tactics used by witch-hunters and prosecutors; systems of torture, trial, and execution; and details of all the best-known cases.

Very well written in an easy and informative style. Generously illustrated with images of original documents and contemporary depictions of witches' sabbats, devils, etc. In encyclopedic format with good cross-referencing. A must-have for anyone interested in this dark period of European history.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An history of the witchcraft panic 30 Oct 2011
By Theo TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
If you're looking for an occult primer, look elsewhere. What we have here is an exhaustive history of the witchcraft panic that raged from the medieval period through to surprisingly late in the modern age. While this book is primarily European in orientation, it provides a great deal of information on American phenomena such as the Salem witch trials as well.

As the title suggests, this history is presented in encyclopaedia form: that is, as an alphabetically organized series of entries. However, it does actually provide quite a readable introduction to the field with which it is concerned in a way that most encyclopaedias do not. This is partly because there is a very extensive introduction, and many entries that are themselves quite lengthy. But mostly it's just because the author is a gifted and engaging writer.

Originally published in 1959, this is a book that unfortunately seems to teach truly timeless lessons about humanity. Anyone familiar with the Satanic panic of the 1980s will recognize a great deal in this volume. Substitute "recovered memory" for "spectral evidence" and we're very nearly right back where we started.

Finally, I'd like to add that this book includes more than a few compelling works of art within its pages. While these are printed solely in black and white (which was not always the case with the originals), and are often anachronistic to the accompanying text, they are quite captivating in their own right nonetheless.

If you are at all interested in the witchcraft panic, medieval and renaissance societies and their legal systems, or moral panics in general, this is a book that will find a welcome place on your shelf for many years to come.

Theo.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Happy 25 Oct 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A very old book and only a little related to my dissertation, so cant say I love the book :) not sure where the book came from, but took a long time to get here. If overseas good, if in England very long time to wait. As described.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  19 reviews
36 of 40 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Voluminous But Dated Enclyclopedia of Horrors 11 Dec 2002
By Matthew S. Schweitzer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Rossell Hope Robbins massive 1959 work "Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology" has been reprinted many times but is currently out-of-print. It is indeed a fascinatingly horrible compenidum of information regarding witches, demons, devils, demonologists, inquisitors, judges, hysterias, torture, and murder. It has served for the past 40 odd years as one of the most read and referenced work on the history of witchcraft and demonology, especially by many popular witchcraft authors and historians who continue to use and cite the work today.
The trouble is that much of the scholarship contatined in this work is sadly outdated and lacks information on much of the recent work done in the field of witchcraft studies in the past 20 years. Also, Robbins' work suffers from the same problem that afflicted many other similar early witchcraft histories: bad translations and historical forgeries. It has been shown that many of the early translations of a number of Latin works on witchcraft (particularly those translated by the Rev. Montague Summers) are suspect. Also, several 19th century histories of the witchcraze and the Inquisition that have been used as source material by countless authors, including Robbins, have been proven to be forgeries, particularly the works relating the early 14th century Inquisitorial witch executions in France. Robbins' work has also been criticized by scholars for its lack of objectivity in its history. But this work still remains popular today and understandably so, as it contains many lurid and engaging articles on just about every aspect of the witch hunts from the 15th to the 18th century in Europe and North America. Despite many of its flaws, it is still a useful reference and for that reason it still gets 3 stars, plus I must admit, it maintains some of the mysterious aura surrounding the history of witches and demons that much recent scholarship has tried to dispel, and that makes it fascinating reading, if for the wrong reasons.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A definite must for everyone interested in witchcraft. 24 Sep 1997
By juha@basware.fi - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book is perhaps the most important reference work in its field. If you have interest in the occult, witchcraft or details not much mentioned in standard history books, I urge you to buy this one. Although its author relies a bit too heavily on documents of the time, the information given in this book is valuable. Also, there is a passage about witchcraft in specific countries, so you might also find out something about your home country that no one bothered to tell you. Read this book, and I can almost guarantee that you'll see the last four centuries in quite a new light.
17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and horrifying, mass delusion ! 24 July 2000
By Ole Bentsen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
A long time ago I (by accident) saw this book carried by Terry Gilliam in the 'Spanish Inquisition' sketch by Monty Python. You can spot it under his arm as he gets up from his seat in the bus at the end. Realizing that this has very little do to with the actual review of this book, it nonetheless will tell you that I recognized the cover of the book when walking around in an old bookstore in Boston, grabbed it, and within 2 minutes of reading and skimming I decided that it was worth the $18.00 it cost. It was probably one of the best bargains I ever found, and opened my eyes tremendously.
As the title implies we're talking about an encyclopedia, not a detailed and chronological book, but this did not hamper the book's ability to get inside my head, and touch it in a way that redefined the medieval picture I carried around with me. After spending a few hours going through the book, and picking out specific passages, I realized that I knew nothing about how people were treated not THAT long ago, when someone else accused them of witchcraft, and how hard (impossible) it was to prove ones innocence. A story in the encyclopedia tells of how a woman, owning a black cat was hanged, accused of witchcraft, for 'making' her neighbour's tea taste bad.
If you wish to have just some idea of how impossible it was to prove your innocence, once you were thought a witch, Luc Besson's 'Messenger: Joan of Arc', and the Blackadder episode 'Witchsmeller Pursouivant' will give you an idea of the hopelessness some of the accused must've felt.
The most horrible aspect of the book is the descriptions of how people were tortured back in those days. The only thing we can do is learn from books such as these to insure that such stupidity and ignorance won't be allowed to occur again. The book also has information on specific European and other countries, so you can locate your own country to see just how bad things were in Europe several hundred years ago. That these things are still happening in many other parts of the world, is something we should do something more about, since many of the uneducated countries still practice torture and inhuman deaths. Not that any death, ordered by other sentient beings, is human, in my opinion.
The people who refuse to open books such as these, because they, among many other things, tell of the instruction manuals inquisitors could consult when dealing with witches (the Malleus Maleficarum is one), must ask themselves if they are doing so, because they find such information irrelevant and frightening. Of course it's frightening, but hardly irrelevant. It's when you turn your back on these things, that they have a chance of happening. So educate yourself about how not to behave, when someone sitting close to you is stroking a bad cat and your tea suddenly tastes bad.
I'm not saying that we have to be paranoid at all, but a good portion of common sense, spiced with decency and awareness, will no doubt yield a mix that will prevent such terrible events from happening again.
And if you can't find this book at amazon.com, try older bookstores. Where I found mine in Boston, another copy was also present!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Add This to Your Witches Library 13 Jan 2002
By Syrinx Nailo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This piece is very informative and gives a graphic representation through illustration & word into the world of Witches, Demons and Sorcerers and their Present Day Counterparts. Not intended for the "Fluffy Bunnies" or the "Charmed Wanna-bes".
Although not as complete as it could be, and biased somewhat as the sources it is drawn from are not all "Witch, Demonoligist, Sorcerer-& their viewpoint related", this is still hands down one I would recommend to any "must have" list.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An History of The Witchcraft Panic 19 Aug 2013
By Theo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
If you're looking for an occult primer, look elsewhere. What we have here is an exhaustive history of the witchcraft panic that raged from the medieval period through to surprisingly late in the modern age. While this book is primarily European in orientation, it provides a great deal of information on American phenomena such as the Salem witch trials as well.

As the title suggests, this history is presented in encyclopaedia form: that is, as an alphabetically organized series of entries. However, it does actually provide quite a readable introduction to the field with which it is concerned in a way that most encyclopaedias do not. This is partly because there is a very extensive introduction, and many entries that are themselves quite lengthy. But mostly it's just because the author is a gifted and engaging writer.

Originally published in 1959, this is a book that unfortunately seems to teach truly timeless lessons about humanity. Anyone familiar with the Satanic panic of the 1980s will recognize a great deal in this volume. Substitute "recovered memory" for "spectral evidence" and we're very nearly right back where we started.

Finally, I'd like to add that this book includes more than a few compelling works of art within its pages. While these are printed solely in black and white (which was not always the case with the originals), and are often anachronistic to the accompanying text, they are quite captivating in their own right nonetheless.

If you are at all interested in the witchcraft panic, medieval and renaissance societies and their legal systems, or moral panics in general, this is a book that will find a welcome place on your shelf for many years to come.

Theo.
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