The Witch

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What to expect

Why have societies all across the world feared witchcraft? This book delves deeply into its context, beliefs, and origins in Europe’s history.

The witch came to prominence—and often a painful death—in early modern Europe, yet her origins are much more geographically diverse and historically deep. In this landmark book, Ronald Hutton traces witchcraft from the ancient world to the early modern stake.

This book sets the notorious European witch trials in the widest and deepest possible perspective and traces the major historiographical developments of witchcraft. Hutton, a renowned expert on ancient, medieval, and modern paganism and witchcraft beliefs, combines Anglo-American and continental scholarly approaches to examine attitudes on witchcraft and the treatment of suspected witches across the world, including in Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, Australia, and North and South America, and from ancient pagan times to current interpretations. His fresh anthropological and ethnographical approach focuses on cultural inheritance and change while considering shamanism, folk religion, the range of witch trials, and how the fear of witchcraft might be eradicated.

Critics Review

  • “Magisterial…Hutton concerns himself with the bad, black version of the craft that has terrified poor souls for centuries. His approach blends a broad geographic sweep with the detailed attention of microhistory.”

    Guardian (London)
  • The Witch is an important work, representing more than twenty years of scholarly research…It provides a social, historical, and religious continuum based on impeccable research. But The Witch is more than a historical reference; it’s also a cautionary tale…In these tumultuous times, we would do well to learn from the history Hutton depicts.”

    Washington Post
  • “The book we have all been waiting for.”

    Diane Purkiss, author of The Witch in History
  • “An engrossing journey through the world of witches and witchcraft. Highly recommended for those fascinated by the nature and extent of the notorious European Witch Trials.”

    Tony Robinson, English actor and historian
  • “Eloquent, historically grounded, and global in reach, this is essential reading for anyone interested in the social and political context of witchcraft and the manipulation of supposed supernatural powers.”

    Timothy Darvill, OBE, author of Prehistoric Britain

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