This “magisterial account” explores the fear of witchcraft across the globe from the ancient world to the notorious witch trials of early modern Europe (The Guardian, UK). 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 The Witch, historian Ronald Hutton sets the 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 the Americas, 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.
“[A] panoptic, penetrating book.”—Malcolm Gaskill, London Review of Books