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The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe Paperback – 13 Apr 2006

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Paperback, 13 Apr 2006
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Product details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 3 edition (13 April 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0582419018
  • ISBN-13: 978-0582419018
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 2.3 x 23.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 302,683 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product description


'Brian Levack's aims are to provide a coherent introduction to the subject and contribute to an ongoing scholarly debate. In both these aims he has succeeded magnificently. xxx; It will serve as a standard introduction to the topic for many years to come.'

English Historical Review

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

Fearlessly, Brian Levack tackles a vast, complex subject and reduces it to a concise and lucid synthesis with consummate skill, challenging old assumptions and casting light into the darkest corners. …the essential starting point for the study of early modern witch-beliefs and witchcraft trials.

Dr Malcolm Gaskill, University of Cambridge

Of previous editions:

Now, at last, with Brian Levack’s careful scholarly and critical survey, a thoroughly reliable introduction to the whole literature is available.

History Today

Between 1450 and 1750 thousands of people – most of them women – were accused, prosecuted and executed for the crime of witchcraft. The witch-hunt was not a single event; it comprised thousands of individual prosecutions, each shaped by the religious and social dimensions of the particular area as well as political and legal factors. Brian Levack sorts through the proliferation of theories to provide a coherent introduction to the subject, as well as contributing to the scholarly debate. The book:

·        Examines why witchcraft prosecutions took place, how many trials and victims there were, and why witch-hunting eventually came to an end.

·        Explores the beliefs of both educated and illiterate people regarding witchcraft.

·        Uses regional and local studies to give a more detailed analysis of the chronological and geographical distribution of witch-trials.

  • Emphasises the legal context of witchcraft prosecutions.


  • Illuminates the social, economic and political history of early modern Europe, and in particular the position of women within it.


In this fully updated third edition of his exceptional study, Levack incorporates the vast amount of literature that has emerged since the last edition. He substantially extends his consideration of the decline of the witch-hunt and goes further in his exploration of witch-hunting after the trials, especially in contemporary Africa. New illustrations vividly depict beliefs about witchcraft in early modern Europe.

Brian Levack is the John Green Regents Professor in History at the University of Texas at Austin. He has written and edited many books, including The Witchcraft Sourcebook (2004) and Witchcraft and Magic in Europe: The Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries (1999).


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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Used it as a uni text book, very useful for seminars and essay planning, would recommend for any witch craft and magic course
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Good account of the phenomenon; maybe a tad wordy for the less academic reader.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A must-have for everybody interested in Witchcraft
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Format: Paperback
I needed this book for a history class I am taking at Stockholm University in Sweden. I found it much cheaper to buy from Amazon than from any of the Swedish on-line book sites or even from the University book store. I received the book within a week and in great shape. I always check Amazon first because if its an English book I need for school or for pleasure reading, I can almost guarantee that I will find it cheaper here.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.9 out of 5 stars 16 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Evidence based and thoughtful for a mainstream book on the topic 9 May 2011
By Michael Bates - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Finally, a scholarly treatment of the issue unimpeded by an emotional attachment to the forgery Etienne Leon de Lamothe-Langon's Histoire de l'Inquisition en France, written in 1829 (even though the forgery was uncovered in 1975)or any strong desire to hammer a square peg into a round hole to promulgate a writer's own personal crusade.

The result is an evidence based and thoughtful historical treatment of the Witch Hunting tragedy with reasonable conclusions.

If you are sick of unrealistic oversimplifications that reflect the pet interest/s of the author more than the historical evidence or sick of books where the author has not taken the time to keep 'up to date' with historical developments (35 years ago) and believes that the Witch Hunt is a purely medieval phenomenon rather than peaking between 1550 and 1650 this is the book to read.

Given the strengths of the book I would recommend it to anyone from budding historians to general public with an interest in a historically accurate take on the Witch Hunts. I acknowledge that Catholics might find slight discomfort in the author's apparent prejudice against Catholicism. He writes of reformation greats being Luther and Calvin and seems to downplay their contribution by contextualising that they didn't make much direct comment on the topic even though one of them insisted that witches need to be killed or something and they were highly influential. That is not to say that he fails to acknowledge that they contributed just a slight reluctance to give their contribution as much weight as someone who doesn't consider reformists to be great might. This is a very subtle issue that does not significantly detract from this first rate book.
46 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Summary of Modern Research 18 Feb. 1999
By Jennifer Gibbons - Published on
Format: Paperback
During the 70's and 80's, a flood of new information on historical witchcraft became available. Levack's book is the best survey of this new data, which has revolutionized our understanding of the Great Hunt. It's not a very "daring" book; it sticks to the facts, to the things we're sure about. There isn't a lot of speculation in it. But it's a great antidote to the badly researched books, like Anne Barstow's _Witchcraze_, which flood the popular market.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars good information 30 Aug. 2014
By Avid Reader - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Needed this book for a history class. I didn't think I would like it, but there is a lot of great information in this book and I quoted quite a bit of the material in a paper that I wrote. I had three books for my class and this one was by far the best.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 3 Mar. 2016
By Mr Honest - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great review of *current* knowledge about the witch hunts. Up-to-date and readable.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Research. 4 Aug. 2013
By Kathleen - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A great "textbook" of-sorts for researching the witch craze in Europe. It offers insight into why, how, and when the craze was at the extreme.
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