Document Type

Book Review

Publication Version

Published Version

Publication Date

Summer 2009

Journal or Book Title

Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft

Volume

4

Issue

1

First Page

100

Last Page

104

DOI

10.1353/mrw.0.0130

Abstract

The continuation, and continued development, of magical beliefs and various forms of witchcraft and countermagic in the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries has become an increasingly important topic for scholars. Ever since the resurgence of European witchcraft studies in the 1970s with, among other landmark publication, Keith Thomas’s Religion and the Decline of Magic, tremendous attention has focused on the (mainly) sixteenth- and seventeenth-century witch hunts. As Thomas’s title indicates, the need to explain the decline of magical beliefs and the transformation of Europe from a witch-hunting society into a putatively “disenchanted” one was always part of this scholarly project. Yet the important question of decline (and continuation) received significantly less attention than the horrors of the hunts themselves. For some time it seemed adequate to assume that belief in witches receded as governments decriminalized the act of witchcraft. We now know that picture is highly inaccurate. Prosecution of witches in most regions of Europe declined almost to nothing decades before law codes were changed to eliminate witchcraft as a crime, and belief in witchcraft and other “popular” magical practices continued among large segments of Europe’s population for centuries afterward.

Comments

This is a book review from Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft 4 (2009): 100, doi:10.1353/mrw.0.0130. Posted with permission.

Rights

All rights reserved. Except for brief quotations used for purposes of scholarly citation, none of this work may be reproduced in any form by any means without written permission from the publisher. For information address the University of Pennsylvania Press, 3905 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104-4112.

Copyright Owner

University of Pennsylvania Press

Language

en

File Format

application/pdf

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