Witchfinders (häftad)
Häftad (Paperback / softback)
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Nominated for Morris D. Forkosch Prize 2006
Harvard University Press
2 halftones, 35 line illustrations, 2 maps
227 x 151 x 26 mm
513 g
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A Seventeenth-Century English Tragedy

Häftad,  Engelska, 2007-10-01
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By spring 1645, two years of civil war had exacted a dreadful toll upon England. People lived in terror as disease and poverty spread, and the nation grew ever more politically divided. In a remote corner of Essex, two obscure gentlemen, Matthew Hopkins and John Stearne, exploited the anxiety and lawlessness of the time and initiated a brutal campaign to drive out the presumed evil in their midst. Touring Suffolk and East Anglia on horseback, they detected demons and idolators everywhere. Through torture, they extracted from terrified prisoners confessions of consorting with Satan and demonic spirits. Acclaimed historian Malcolm Gaskill retells the chilling story of the most savage witch-hunt in English history. By the autumn of 1647 at least 250 people--mostly women--had been captured, interrogated, and hauled before the courts. More than a hundred were hanged, causing Hopkins to be dubbed "Witchfinder General" by critics and admirers alike. Though their campaign was never legally sanctioned, they garnered the popular support of local gentry, clergy, and villagers. While Witchfinders tells of a unique and tragic historical moment fueled by religious fervor, today it serves as a reminder of the power of fear and fanaticism to fuel ordinary people's willingness to demonize others.
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Witchfinders tells the gripping and important story of England's biggest witch-hunt. The available information is perhaps without parallel in its detail, density, and inherent pathos. And Gaskill puts it together with very great skill. The result is a ground-level, step-by-step portrayal of a sort not seen elsewhere in the enormous literature on witchcraft history. -- John Demos, author of <i>Circles and Lines: The Shape of Life in Early America</i> Gaskill has produced a wonderfully detailed, well-written and judicious account of a tragic yet fascinating episode in our social and religious history. -- Saul David * Daily Telegraph * Malcolm Gaskill explores the efforts of two Christian crusaders as they tried to root out witches in early modern England. The witchfinders used biblical justification to legitimise brutality and bloodshed, seizing on insecurities and offering to restore the 'moral balance.' * Financial Times * Malcolm Gaskill's brilliant new study rewrites the history of the 1640s witch craze. Founding his account on broad-ranging archival research, Gaskill has reconstructed an astonishingly detailed picture of the demonically possessed world of 1640s East Anglia--of the motives and belief-systems of the witch-finders, and their victims' piteous fate...In the vivid three-dimensionality of its dramatis personae, the eloquence of its writing, and the richness of its evocations of vanished worlds of landscape and belief, Gaskill has produced a book that is more than an equal of Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie's Montaillou. In summoning up this lost world of Stuart England, Gaskill displays a masterly wizardry all his own. -- John Adamson * Sunday Telegraph * In the space of a few weeks in the summer of 1645, 150 women from villages in the area around Dedham Vale were identified as witches and sent for trial. Many of them were then hanged after bogus confessions had been forced out of them by torture...This chilling book makes it plain that it didn't take much for your neighbours to mark you out as a witch...Malcolm Gaskill's book is a terrifying parade of innocent people sent to their deaths by what are nowadays fondly known as 'closeknit communities'...Wherever people feel at the mercy of forces beyond their control, they will look for scapegoats and they will find them among the odd and the solitary. Gaskill notes that in our ideas, instincts and emotions, we are not so very different from our 17th Century ancestors. -- Craig Brown * Mail on Sunday * This is a serious and scholarly account of the most chilling witch-hunt in English history...It is fascinating. Gaskill presents a compassionate, measured view dispelling several myths along the way...Far from depicting the witchfinders as sadistic bounty hunters, Gaskill argues they belonged to a different breed: sincere fundamentalists responding to a genuine and general unease. This is a story of fanaticism and zeal, but also of ordinary folk falling foul of their neighbours. To Gaskill our 17th century ancestors were not so different from 'the provincial nobodies of the 20th century who engaged in genocide, demonstrating to the world the banality of evil.' Terrible times make witchfinders of us all. -- Marianne Brace * Independent on Sunday * In his extensively researched book, Gaskill puts Hopkins and the witchhunting craze in context, examining the social and political conditions of those tempestuous times, conditions which not only allowed Hopkins to go about his gruesome business in north Essex then across East Anglia, but actively encouraged him to do it. Separating fact from ficton and debunking a few myths along the way, Gaskill leaves us with the impression of Hopkins not so much as a hate-figure, but as an embodiment of his times, a product of very peculiar and particular circumstances. * Essex Chronicle * Gaskill vividly shows how the barbarity and fanaticism of civil war could spill over

Övrig information

Malcolm Gaskill is a Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge, where he is Director of Studies in History.


Illustrations Preface Author's Note Map Prologue Part One: Complication 1. Origins 2. Strange Effects 3. The Initiation 4. Dark Horizons 5. First Blood Part Two: Unravelling 6. Malignants 7. Hellish Invention 8. Contagion 9. Sticklers 10. The Biter Bit Epilogue