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About the Author: Hugh Trevor-Roper

Hugh Redwald Trevor Roper, Baron Dacre of Glanton, FBA, was an English historian of early modern Britain and Nazi Germany He was Regius Professor of Modern History at the University of Oxford.



10 thoughts on “The European Witch-Craze of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries

  1. says:

    Last night I was reading H.R Trevor Roper s classic work The European Witch Craze of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, which I was quite enjoying In the first chapter, Trevor Roper was discussing various clerical theories of how the Devil managed to beget offspring after having sex with witches at night in the form of an incubus, that visited female witches or a succubus, that visited male witches But this was a problem wasn t the devil neuter A great deal of theological thinking was expended in the attempt to resolve this matter Some thought the Devil swiped the testicles off the dead and impregnated the witches with borrowed vital essences, but the church eventually followed the teaching of St Thomas Aquinas, the second founder of demonology after St Augustine He said the Devil could only discharge as incubus what he had previously absorbed as succubus Trevor Roper then remarks There are times when the intellectual fantasies of the clergy seem bizarre than the psychopathic delusions of the madhouse out of which they have, too often, been excogitated.Excellent for other reasons not adumbrated here.


  2. says:

    I read this book to clue me up on the Witch Craze so I could teach it at A level, and clue me up it did The reason I didn t give it 5 stars is that it s contextually vague By that I mean it takes for granted that you are aware of everything to do with the context surrounding the craze, and I wasn t However, if you read it in conjunction with a textbook and are prepared to hit Google up to find out who the hell the Albigensians are and cetera then it s worth a read.


  3. says:

    This a short volume, a kind of long essay with chapters, which details very clearly the origins of the witch hunts of the 16th and 17th centuries.The exploits of Matthew Hopkins in England, are well known Between 1644 and 1646 he had then 300 people put to death What is less well known is that this 300 was of only about 1,000 killed in total in England between 1542 and 1736 In other words, witch hunting in England was not widespread, not compared to other parts of Europe Witch hunting generally seems to have sprung up at times of religious uncertainty or economic depression, so it is unlikely to be coincidence that Matthew Hopkins committed his evil deeds during the English Civil War,at a time when parliament were particular sensitive to Charles I suspected catholicism, and when many people suffered as a consequence of war.Widespread persecution of witches originated in mainland Europe, in the 12th century, as the Catholic church sought to overcome the heretical Albigensians of Languedoc and the Vaudois of the Alps The Dominican order was founded to combat these heretics, and was successful in evangelizing both Alpine and Pyrenean valleys Yet pagal customs lingered The new heresy of witchcraft was a means by which the Catholic church sought to stamp out the casting of spells and the making of magic In 1326 Pope John XXII authorized the full use of inquisitorial procedure of witches, and so began the wholesale persecution that would last than three centuriesTrevor Roper explains in detail the religious origins of witchcraft, and the way in which witchery became a front for the murderous exploits of religious conformists As the back of the book says The European Witch Craze is a stunning picture of intellectual and social life in the grip of a collective psychosis.


  4. says:

    After reading the Stacy Schiff s book on the Salem witch trials I wanted to read something about the European witch executions 2 3 dozen witches were executed in Salem But it is estimated that as many as 600,000 were executed in Europe.A couple of significant quotes What then is the explanation of those confessions, and of their general identity When we read the confessions of sixteenth and seventeenth century witches, we are often revolted by the cruelty and stupidity which have elicited them and sometimes, undoubtedly, supplied their form But equally we are obliged to admit their fundamental subjective reality For every victim whose story is evidently created or improved by torture, there are two or three who genuinely believe in its truth This duality forbids us to accept single, comprehensive, rational explanations 123 Thus, if we look at the revival of the witch craze in the 1560s in its context, we see that it is not the product either of Protestantism or of Catholicism, but of both


  5. says:

    Renaissance, Reformation, Counter reformation, Enlightenment.quite a time in European history The standout essay in this book of essays is the titular namesake The European witchcraze of the sixteenth and seventeenth century quite amazing how bad information can become legitimized through continuous referencing of subsequent works similar to an echo chamber effect How the evolution of terms created a new heresy and resulted in the death of thousands of innocent people After all, no one was a witch, there were no witch s sabbat, no succubi succubus, no communing with the devil which is why these people were tortured and burned It was all a religious madness that swept these innocent people intothe pyres Well, it made Dominic and Francis saints, so it is all good.Other essays spoke to the religious origins of the enlightenmentor rather how a strong secular lay government that kept the orthodox in check allowed the enlightenment to take seed A brilliant book.


  6. says:

    A rich account of the phenomenon, placing it in its social, political and religious context and roots Excellent book I mentally thank the author for not employing a marxist lens in his analysis on the contrary I strongly recommend this book.


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