Rothenburg, 1561–1652
Author: Alison Rowlands

Given the widespread belief in witchcraft and the existence of laws against such practices, why did witch-trials fail to gain momentum and escalate into ‘witch-crazes’ in certain parts of early modern Europe? This book answers this question by examining the rich legal records of the German city of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a city that experienced a very restrained pattern of witch-trials and just one execution for witchcraft between 1561 and 1652. The book explores the factors that explain the absence of a ‘witch-craze’ in Rothenburg, placing particular emphasis on the interaction of elite and popular priorities in the pursuit (and non-pursuit) of alleged witches at law. By making the witchcraft narratives told by the peasants and townspeople of Rothenburg central to its analysis, the book also explores the social and psychological conflicts that lay behind the making of accusations and confessions of witchcraft. Furthermore, it challenges the existing explanations for the gender-bias of witch-trials, and also offers insights into other areas of early modern life, such as experiences of and beliefs about communal conflict, magic, motherhood, childhood and illness. Written in a narrative style, the study invites a wide readership to share in the drama of early modern witch trials.

Open Access (free)
The historian and the male witch
Lara Apps and Andrew Gow

have seen the historical study of witchcraft transformed ‘from an esoteric byway into a regular concern of social, religious and intellectual historians’ who have carried out intensive, often interdisciplinary research in the archives of continental Europe, the British Isles, and the New World. 2 This mass of research has produced a variety of explanations for the so-called witch craze, including, but not limited to: the

in Male witches in early modern Europe
Open Access (free)
Lara Apps and Andrew Gow

In the last quarter of the twentieth century, dozens of books and articles on witches and witchcraft were published,amounting to a sort of second witch craze. These publications addressed the topic in general and in specific times and places, witchcraft, witch-hunting, images of witches, witches in art, literature, popular culture, new religious movements, witches in the past and the present

in Male witches in early modern Europe
Open Access (free)
Demonological descriptions of male witches
Lara Apps and Andrew Gow

1 Trevor-Roper, The European Witch-Craze , 78–79. 2 E.g. Sophie Houdard, Les Sciences du diable: Quatre Discours sur la sorcellerie, Xve–XVIIe siècle (Paris: Editions du Cerf, 1992); Clark, Thinking With Demons ; Ian Bostridge, Witchcraft and its Transformations ; Jonathan Pearl, The Crime of Crimes

in Male witches in early modern Europe
Open Access (free)
Alison Rowlands

prosecuted as witches, but – given the widespread belief in witchcraft and the existence of laws against it – how few were. Briggs argued that the witch-persecution of the early modern period ‘was a relative failure, which only gained momentum in relatively few exceptional instances’. Persecution of witches was patchy both chronologically and geographically, Briggs concluded, with ‘genuine witch-crazes’ only touching ‘the lives of a tiny fraction of Europeans’.2 We still know little about where, when and why witchhunts failed to gain momentum in early modern Europe

in Witchcraft narratives in Germany
Lara Apps and Andrew Gow

dichotomy between the men and women accused of witchcraft and have imposed on the past a narrow conception of early modern attitudes toward gender and witchcraft. Gaskill’s closing comments about William Godfrey and his accusers are appropriate: ‘Godfrey’s case may well have been atypical, but to the people of New Romney in 1617 – not least Godfrey himself – it was as valid and real an experience of the European “witch-craze” as

in Male witches in early modern Europe
Stephen Mitchell

2084.2(dd). 52 Trevor-Roper, European Witch-Craze , p. 105. 53 Nicholson, Abstract of the Proceedings , p. 7.

in Witchcraft Continued