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Book Description

The notion that a belief in witchcraft and other superstitions could have influenced the political development of Britain in any real sense probably seems inadmissible. But in this new and important work the author's exploration of the relationship between these two aspects of history clearly demonstrates how the fear which fed the minds of the nation was exploited-and augmented-by the political, religious and social hierarchies in their struggle for power. As the population grew, became increasingly Christian, and benefited from new and expanding methods of communication, so the harmless pagan figure of the folkwitch with her herbs and unguents evolved into a heretic persona, possessed by evil, traitorous by nature, and trumpeted as a threat to all God-fearing citizens. From the end of the thirteenth century the populace was bombarded with Papal Bulls, Acts of Parliament, Royal edicts, daily sermons from the pulpits of all denominations, and a flood of apparently learned books and pamphlets decrying the dangers of the witch. By the seventeenth century all but a few dissenters were utterly convinced of the reality of this evil phenomenon, and the resulting slaughter of women reached its peak in Britain during the Great Rebellion. In 'Witchcraft in British History’, Ronald Holmes examines the reasons behind the growth and deterioration of these beliefs within the context of the political and religious movements which gave birth to them. Answers have been sought to such questions as why Elizabeth I found it necessary to legislate against witchcraft when her father had not; why James I, once a confirmed witch-hater, suddenly reversed his position; why Crornwell's soldiers slaughtered a thousand women after the Battle of Naseby, and why the Protector's subsequent Act of Parliament pardoned all his enemies except witches. Although the after effects of this frenzy lingered for a further two centuries, all Witchcraft Acts were repealed in 1736; this decline in witchcraft beliefs is shown to be related to the explosion of knowledge and invention which started with the introduction of the printing press and grew, after the Restoration, into the Industrial Revolution.
Dealer Notes
First Edition; 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall; Gilt titles spine; illustrated by b/w. drawings, maps & photo's.; top outer corner of fep. clipped; Slight foxing to end-papers but body of book clean and unfoxed; Includes appendices, suggested reading list & index.
Author Holmes, Ronald
Date 1974
Binding Hardcover (Original Black Cloth)
Publisher Frederick Muller Ltd.; London
Condition Very Good in Very Good Dustjacket(in archive acetate film protection)
Pages 272

Price: £25.00

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