The Witch: A History of Fear, from Ancient Times to the Present

Author(s): Ronald Hutton

Myth & Folklore

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.


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"The history of witchcraft and its persecution makes for compelling, often terrifying reading. . . what makes [Hutton's] history unique is it provides a much longer - and broader - perspective. The Witch draws upon previously neglected anthropological and ethnographic findings to set the origins of witchcraft and its subsequent persecution in an ancient and global context."-Tracy Borman, Literary Review -- Tracy Borman * Literary Review * "There are several over-familiar images that we jump to when we think of witches, even today: the hat, the broom, the cauldron. Yet this scholarly, engrossing take on the witch travels across centuries and continents to prove that it is a figure that is both more pervasive and more diverse than we might expect."-History Revealed * History Revealed *

Ronald Hutton is professor of history, University of Bristol, and a leading authority on ancient, medieval, and modern paganism, on the history of the British Isles in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and on the global context of witchcraft beliefs.

General Fields

  • : 9780300229042
  • : Yale University Press
  • : Yale University Press
  • : August 2017
  • : August 2017
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Ronald Hutton
  • : Hardback
  • : 376