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The Witch Hunts

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Thurston: The Witch Hunts


'...lively and readable… written in a style as personal and attractive as any I have encountered.'                                              Ronald Hutton, University of Bristol


'This book is an excellent and concise summary of scholarship on witchcraft history… It is the perfect introduction to the topic.'

Brian Hoggard, author of Crusader Castles: Christian: Fortresses in the Middle East

Between the fourteenth and eighteenth centuries, the notorious witch hunts of Europe and America led to the execution of tens of thousands of people – the vast majority of whom were women.  Under the growing influence of a variety of new or heightened tensions, such as fear of the Devil, attack from abroad and the plague, panic and aggression against 'witches' began to spiral out of control.  As fear of the witches spread through Europe, the accused were convicted on the basis of reputation and circumstance rather than any hardevidence. They suffered erratic trials, torture and death.


In this revised edition, first published under the title of Witch, Wicce, Mother Goose, Robert Thurston explores the events of the witch hunts and the social and psychological factors which caused them. Increasingly negative images of women, revised judicial procedures and religious conflicts had their part to play in these strange times, as did ideas from sources as diverse as the Bible and folk beliefs.  Original, insightful and moving, The Witch Hunts takes a long historical view of the witch persecutions, and puts into perspective the effects of fear and violence in even the most reasonable of societies.


Robert W. Thurston is Phillip R. Shriver Professor in the Department of History, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.  His publications include Life and Terror in Stalin’s Russia, 1934-1941 (1996)and Liberal City, Conservative State Moscow and Russia's Urban Crisis, 1906-1914 (1987).

Product Details

Table of Contents

Introduction 1. New fears in Europe: 700-1500 2. Toward the Witch Pyres: Images and Realities of European Women to 1500 3. The Spread of the Witch Trials 4. Victims and Processes 5. The Decline and End of the Hunts Conclusion

Promotional Information

This highly readable account provides an extensive overview of witch-hunting in Europe and North America.

About the Author

Robert Thurston is Professor of History at the Universityof Miami.


"comprehensive account of one of the most malign periods in Eureopean history" - Glasgow Herald 'Lively and readable. It is written in a style as personal and attractive as any I have encountered...It has just the right balance of magisterial detachment and personal insight.' Ronald Hutton, Universityof Bristol 6 page feature article on book in History Today, November 2006

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