During the sixteenth century, Europe was subject to a fevered and pious wave of witch-hunts and trials. English anti-witch paranoia led to the persecution and execution of a great many individuals, and brought about a large-scale shift in the legal and social culture of the time. However, surprisingly little has been written about this fascinating period of English history, beyond the individual cases of the Pendle witches of Lancashire and the activities of Matthew Hopkins (the 'Witchfinder General') in East Anglia. In this engaging new volume, brothers Andrew and David Pickering address the origins of witch-hunting in England, the methods by which it was conducted, its distribution, its causes and consequences, and its eventual decline. Many differing approaches to the subject are explored, including feminist perspectives, functional explanations and post-modern interpretations, with a strong emphasis on the primary source material, including trial records and contemporary literature such as demonological texts and Royal Society papers. The book is also lavishly illustrated with engravings, maps and location photographs.
Andrew Pickering is Senior Lecturer in History and Archaeology at Strode College, Somerset, and is Programme Manager of a History, Heritage and Archaeology degree course at the University of Plymouth. David Pickering is an experienced reference book compiler. He has contributed to (and often been sole author and editor of) some 250 books, mostly in the areas of the arts, language, local history and popular interest.