Witchcraft Persecutions in Bavaria: Popular Magic, Religious Zealotry and Reason of State in Early Modern Europe

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This is a major, groundbreaking study by a leading scholar of continental witchcraft studies, now made available to an English-speaking audience for the first time. The author has compiled a thorough overview of all known prosecutions for witchcraft in the period 1300-1800, and shows conclusively that witch-hunting was not a constant or uniform phenomenon: three-quarters of all known executions for witchcraft were concentrated in the years 1586-1630. The book also investigates the social and political implications of witchcraft, and the complex religious debates between believers and sceptics.'..essential reading for all serious students of the subject.' Bob Scribner in English Historical Review
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...essential reading for all serious students of the subject." Bob Scribner in English Historical Review

"It is gratifying to have Behringer's immensely valuable work now available in a very able translation. The work presents a rich treatment of the historiographical background and includes a detailed and sophisticated scholarly apparatus. Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above." Choice

"this is the definitive study of witchcraft in southeastern Germany...Owing to its clear thesis and solid archival foundation, this book will be the benchmark by which all future research on the subject will be assessed." Religious Studies Review

"This groundbreaking book by Wolfgang Behringer...essential reading.... ...excellent...." John E. Weakland, History

"All in all, this fine translation of Behringer's important monograph is a welcome addition to the English literature on the subject of the witch-hunts." Gary K. White, Canadian Journal of History

"This is the definitive study of withcraft in southern Germany,...Behringer places Bavarian withcraft in its social, religious, and political contexts. This book belongs in every university library." Religious Studies Review

"Widely and justly hailed in the years following its publication in German in 1987, Wolfgang Behringer's book has become the standard work on witchcraft in Bavaria and has, more broadly, redirected scholarly understandings of trials for the crime. The author succeeded in a remarkable feat. He wrote a painstakingly researched book on the political debates surrounding witchcraft and its prosecution in the Bavarian state...scholars of witchcraft cannot afford to ignore Witchcraft Persecutions in Bavaria". The Journal of Religion

"...a classic of recent scholarship on witchcraft." -Journal of American Folklore

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521525107
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 6/17/2002
  • Series: Past and Present Publications Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 504
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 1.14 (d)

Table of Contents

List of illustrations
List of tables
Preface and acknowledgements
List of abbreviations
1 Introduction 1
Witch trials in historiographic context 1
Investigating witch trials and learned discourse in southeastern Germany 17
Methodology 29
2 Moving toward a social history of witchcraft 34
Quantification in synchronic and diachronic juxtaposition 35
Witch trials and popular magic 65
A 'crisis of the late sixteenth century'? 89
3 The wave of persecutions around 1590 115
Contemporary interpretations 115
The course of the persecutions 121
Triggering factors 158
Mechanisms of persecution 183
The breakdown of consensus 194
Regulatory efforts at the end of the persecutions 206
4 The struggle for restraint, 1600-30 212
The witch craze at its peak 212
The Protestant solution 213
The Catholic stance hardens 216
Formation of an opposition party in Bavaria 230
Learned debate, 1601-4 247
Conflict over the mandate against superstition and witchcraft of 1612 269
Predominance of the moderates in Bavaria 291
Triumph of the moderates in southern Germany 310
5 Perpetuation through domestication 1630-1775 322
Convergence of trial procedure 322
Novel polarities and structural changes of trials 331
The last executions for witchcraft 1749-75 344
6 The final Catholic debate 355
From Tanner to Spee 355
The onset of Catholic debate 357
Public debate and the victory of the Enlightenment, 1766-70 359
Combating superstition after the 'witchcraft war' 381
7 Conclusions 388
Witchcraft trials and learned discourse in southeastern Germany: a summary 388
Structures and regions in comparison 400
Witch trials and social crises 405
8 Sources and literature 416
Sources 416
Literature 425
Index 457
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