Editor’s Picks: 8 Bewitching History Titles

Below you’ll find titles on the history of witchcraft and the witch craze in Europe. From the trial of the Pendle witches, to a history of Satan from antiquity to the present, let these fascinating stories bewitch you this October.

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Wicked Enchantments
9781874181620This book offers a detailed account of the extraordinary events that took place in Lancashire in 1612, focusing on James and Alizon Device, the teenage brother and sister at the center of the case. It draws on a wealth of sources, including books of magic and trial records, to evoke a world of magicians and cunning folk, of charms, divination and familiar spirits. It is illustrated with photographs of magical objects in the Museum of Witchcraft in Cornwall, and of a modern family recreating seventeenth-century spells and rituals. Taking a thought-provoking new approach to the history of witchcraft, it conjures a vivid picture of what it was like to be someone who practiced magic during the witch-hunts.
Buy it here $25.95

Satan
9781848680821The story of Devil from antiquity to the present. The Devil, like the poor, is always with us. Evil has been personified in every religion and culture, and Christianity in particular developed a highly graphic view of him from its earliest period. Sometimes grotesque, sometimes beautiful, sometimes threatening, sometimes seductively helpful, sometimes comical, Satan has played a variety of roles in human existence.
Feared and frightening adversary of humankind during the Middle Ages, supposed master and friend of witches during the sixteenth century, and seducer of the devout during the seventeenth, he was gradually explained away as the nineteenth century started to lose its faith at home and export him in all his traditional aspects to the Empire. He made a startling and vicious comeback during the twentieth century as a focus of renewed admiration and even worship.
This book follows the Devil through his various, sometimes surprising incarnations from the ancient world to the present, and shows that his reign is by no means over, even in the West.
Buy it here $19.95

Witch Hunt
9781445608617It was not so long ago that members of all levels of society shared the belief in witchcraft. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, diseases were feared by all, the infant mortality rate was high, and around one in six harvests was likely to fail. In the small rural communities in which most people lived, affection and enmity could build over long periods. When misfortune befell a family, they looked to their neighbors for support – and for the cause.
During the sixteenth century, Europe was subject to a fevered and pious wave of witch-hunts and trials. As the bodies of accused women burnt right across the Continent, the flames of a nationwide witch-hunt were kindled in England. In 1612, nine women were hanged in the Pendle witch trials, the prosecution of the Chelmsford witches in 1645 resulted in the biggest mass execution in England, and in the mid-1640s, the Witch finder General instigated a reign of terror in the Puritan counties of East Anglia. Hundreds of women were accused and hanged. It was not until the latter half of the seventeenth century that witch-hunting went into decline.
In this book, Andrew and David Pickering present a comprehensive catalogue of witch-hunts, arranged chronologically within geographical regions. The tales of persecution within these pages are testimony to the horror of witch-hunting that occurred throughout England in the hundred years after the passing of the Elizabethan Witchcraft Act of 1563.
Buy it here $19.95

The Wonderful Discovery of Witches in the County of Lancaster
9781874181781In this excellent new book, well-respected historian Robert Poole presents an up-to-date version of Thomas Potts’s original account of the famous witch hunt of 1612, in which 19 Lancashire witches, mostly from the Pendle area, were tried at Lancaster. Of these nineteen, three were declared innocent, five were acquitted, and eleven were found guilty, ten of whom were hanged. The Lancashire witch trials were one of the most important in Britain. Thanks to the trial clerk Thomas Potts, they are also the best known. This modern account based on Potts’s original text summarizes the affair clearly and coherently. It probably provides the best, most authoritative general book about the 1612 witch hunt ever published. It is simply a modernized classic.
Buy it here $12.95

1612: The Lancashire Witch Trials
9781874181774In a lively and readable style, Christine Goodier provides a who’s who of the events, and an interesting angle on the trials themselves. She emphasizes that the accused were merely flesh and blood, not demons, arguing that they were poor, uneducated people who were at worst misguided. A terrible injustice was done 400 years ago when they were famously convicted of witchcraft and hanged.
Buy it here $11.95

The Lancashire Witch Craze
9781859360255“Jennet Preston lies heavy upon me,” cried Thomas Lister on his deathbed. We are told that his corpse bled when she touched it … and Jennet was convicted of witchcraft. Was there really a satanic coven on Pendle side? Or was Jennet framed by Lister’s son? And were the other ‘witches’ actually caught up in a much broader and more disturbing pattern of religious persecution? In this best-selling account, Jonathan Lumby presents a remarkable series of new insights. By placing the events in their wider European context, he explains far more satisfactorily than ever before exactly why these disturbing events occurred.
Buy it here $12.95

The British Witch
9781445622026For over five hundred years witches, male and female, practiced magic for harm and good in their communities.
Most witches worked locally, used by their neighbors to cure illness, create love, or gratify personal spite against another. Margaret Lindsay from Northumberland was prosecuted for making men impotent, John Stokes in London for curing fevers, Collas de la Rue on Guernsey for killing people by witchcraft, Florence Newton from County Cork for causing fits, and Isobel Gowdie in Auldearn for a variety of offenses including consorting with Satan and fairies. But in the fifteenth century they attacked a succession of English monarchs through enchanted images, and in the sixteenth sought ways to kill James VI of Scotland, too. A succession of Acts of Parliament made much magic criminal and punished offenders severely, until a final Act in 1735 repealed them.
This monumental new history for the first time describes witches, their magic, and the attempts to eradicate them throughout the British Isles, and alters our picture of who those witches were and why people employed them but also tried to suppress them.
Buy it here $42.00

The Witch & Her Soul
9781874181903Jane Southworth. Bastard daughter of Sir Richard Shireburn, great knight of the realm. Outspoken wife of nobleman John Southworth of Samlesbury Hall. Friend of Alice Nutter, farmer, humanitarian and alleged witch of Pendle. At her dying husband’s bedside, Jane’s extraordinary diary is born. Confessional, raw, evocative, her soul-deep writings reveal her world, her forbidden beliefs and desires. Around her, in a time of treachery, suspicion and vicious persecution, begins the frenzied pursuit of innocents accused of witchcraft, culminating in a terrible trial that is to pull Jane right into its heart.
Buy it here $12.95

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