In 1997, Stuart Clark published the first monograph since the time of Jules Michelet to focus on pre-modern ideas about witches. The language of belief in witchcraft studies betrays an anachronistic, modernist and dismissive approach to a mental universe quite different from our own. This book makes the male witch visible, to construct him as a historical subject, as a first step toward a deeper understanding of the functions and role of gender in pre-modern European witch-hunting and ideas about witches. The overtly political dimension to the study of witches in early modern Europe demands a high level of consciousness and reflexivity regarding language, representation, and meaning. William Monter provides a wealth of data about male witches, in an 'unremarkable province' close to 'the heart of northern and western Europe'. Here, men comprised the majority of those tried and executed for witchcraft. The book examines cases in which men were accused of witchcraft. The examples are drawn from several different regions, in order to test conventional generalisations about male witches. The agency theory posits that actors always have choices; 'agent-centred' morality proposes a novel twist on both traditional Kantian internalist categories. The problems of both male and female witches' agency and selfhood are discussed. The book also presents data compiled from ten canonical works, and a brief discussion of demonological illustrations. Finally, it addresses the question of what it means to label a man as a witch within a framework that explicitly and implicitly feminised witchcraft.

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Witchcraft and magic in Enlightenment Europe

This book looks at aspects of the continuation of witchcraft and magic in Europe from the last of the secular and ecclesiastical trials during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, through to the nineteenth century. It provides a brief outline of witch trials in late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century Finland. By the second half of the seventeenth century, as the witch trials reached their climax in Sweden, belief in the interventionist powers of the Devil had become a major preoccupation of the educated classes. Having acknowledged the slight possibility of real possession by the Devil, Benito Feijoo threw himself wholeheartedly into his real objective: to expose the falseness of the majority of the possessed. The book is concerned with accusations of magic, which were formalised as denunciations heard by the Inquisition of the Archdiocese of Capua, a city twelve miles north of Naples, during the first half of the eighteenth century. One aspect of the study of witchcraft and magic, which has not yet been absorbed into the main stream of literature on the subject, is the archaeological record of the subject. As a part of the increasing interest in 'popular' culture, historians have become more conscious of the presence of witchcraft after the witch trials. The aftermath of the major witch trials in Dalarna, Sweden, demonstrates how the authorities began the awkward process of divorcing themselves from popular concerns and beliefs regarding witchcraft.

As the previous chapter showed, the prevailing view in witchcraft studies is that male witches were rare exceptions to the rule and are less important and interesting, as historical subjects, than female witches. There is a kind of conventional historiographical wisdom about male witches, which may be summarised as follows: male witches were a) accused in small numbers; b) accused primarily because

in Male witches in early modern Europe
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7 The Lancashire Witches By far the most surprising and controversial use of witchcraft as a dramatic symbol came towards the end of the Restoration in Thomas Shadwell’s play The Lancashire Witches (1681). This play was staged at a time of political crisis, with Charles II’s regime struggling to contain the so-called Popish plot and the increasingly rancorous debate about the succession to the throne which grew out of the plot. The Lancashire Witches is above all a political play – perhaps inevitably so, given its immediate context – and one whose use of

in Scepticism and belief in English witchcraft drama, 1538–1681
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4 The Witch of Edmonton Thomas Dekker, John Ford, and William Rowley’s The Witch of Edmonton (1621) departs from the conventions established in previous witchcraft drama in relation to the depiction of scepticism. Macbeth and Dr Faustus depicted the scepticism and credulity of witches, using the discourse of demonology to illustrate the psychology of witch and devil’s servant – a psychology which is characterised by both inappropriate and excessive credulity (towards the devil) and inappropriate and excessive scepticism (towards God). While the delusions of the

in Scepticism and belief in English witchcraft drama, 1538–1681

5 The Late Lancashire Witches The pioneering journalist and poet Joseph Addison once commented on the subject of witchcraft. Directly addressing the question of belief and scepticism, Addison wrote: In short, when I consider the Question, whether there are such Persons in the World as those we call Witches? my Mind is divided between the two opposite Opinions; or rather (to speak my Thoughts freely) I believe in general that there is, and has been such a thing as Witchcraft; but at the same time can give no Credit to any particular Instance of it.1 Addison does

in Scepticism and belief in English witchcraft drama, 1538–1681

4 Beyond the witch trials Responses to witchcraft in Sweden Responses to witchcraft in late seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Sweden The aftermath of the witch-hunt in Dalarna Marie Lennersand The witch-hunts of the early modern period must have left a profound mark on many local communities. The intense trials and executions which took place during the second half of the seventeenth century were dreadful events that touched many people. All those involved, from the accused and the witnesses to the judges and the clergy, had to make decisions that changed

in Beyond the witch trials

9 Beyond the witch trials Counter-witchcraft and popular magic The archaeology of counter-witchcraft and popular magic Brian Hoggard One aspect of the study of witchcraft and magic, which has not yet been absorbed into the main stream of literature on the subject, is the archaeological record of the subject. Objects such as witch-bottles, dried cats, horse skulls, shoes, written charms and numerous other items have been discovered concealed inside houses in significant quantities from the early modern period until well into the twentieth century. The locations

in Beyond the witch trials
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A late eighteenth-century Dutch witch doctor and his clients

8 Beyond the witch trials ‘Evil people’ ‘Evil people’: a late eighteenth-century Dutch witch doctor and his clients Willem de Blécourt As a part of the increasing interest in ‘popular’ culture, historians have become more conscious of the presence of witchcraft after the witch trials. Most of the time their attention, however, is restricted to simply indicating witchcraft occurrences. For newcomers in the field a methodological trap also looms. The name of that trap is ‘superstition’ and its character is an often undeclared but determining element in the

in Beyond the witch trials

5 Beyond the witch trials Witchcraft and magic in Scotland Witchcraft and magic in eighteenth-century Scotland Peter Maxwell-Stuart On 20 October 1711 Defoe published in the periodical Review his well-known and unambiguous opinion on the subject of witches: There are, and ever have been such People in the World, who converse Familiarly with the Devil, enter into Compact with him, and receive Power from him, both to hurt and deceive, and these have been in all Ages call’d Witches, and it is these, that our Law and God’s Law Condemn’s as such; and I think there

in Beyond the witch trials