The Witch Hunt in Early Modern Europe (review)

by Jenny Gibbons

_The Witch Hunt in Early Modern Europe_ by Brian Levack

Written as a text for a college-level course, _The Witch Hunt in Early Modern Europe_ is a splendid over-view of the Burning Times. Since the 1970's, systematic studies of trial verdicts have revealed hordes of new information on historical Witchcraft. Levack's book is the first to survey this new information.

Briefly, it covers the legal and intellectual foundations of the trials, the social context they occurred in, and how the Reformation dramatically increased the amount of Witch-hunting. There are good surveys of what the persecution was like in various regions, and a chapter devoted to the dynamics of Witch trials (how they generally built in intensity, and what made them peak and end).

The book does have two drawbacks. It's a college text, so it's a bit dry. And -- since it surveys an enormous topic -- it's often terribly brief. But I think it's a great introduction to the current status of Witchcraft studies, and a valuable addition to any Witch's library.