Studies in Popular Beliefs in Sixteenth and Seventeenth-Century England
Author: Keith Thomas
Pubpsher: Penguin UK
Witchcraft, astrology, divination and every kind of popular magic flourished in England during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, from the belief that a blessed amulet could prevent the assaults of the Devil to the use of the same charms to recover stolen goods. At the same time the Protestant Reformation attempted to take the magic out of religion, and scientists were developing new explanations of the universe. Keith Thomas's classic analysis of beliefs held on every level of English society begins with the collapse of the medieval Church and ends with the changing intellectual atmosphere around 1700, when science and rationalism began to challenge the older systems of belief.
'Man and the Natural World, an encyclopaedic study of man's relationship to animals and plants, is completely engrossing ... It explains everything - why we eat what we do, why we plant this and not that, why we keep pets, why we like some animals and not others, why we kill the things we kill and love the things we love ... It is often a funny book and one to read again and again' Paul Theroux, Sunday Times 'The English historian Keith Thomas has revealed modes of thought and ways of life deeply strange to us' Hilary Mantel, New York Review of Books 'A treasury of unusual historical anecdote ... a delight to read and a pleasure to own' Auberon Waugh, Sunday Telegraph 'A dense and rich work ... the return to the grass roots of our own environmental convictions is made by the most enchantingly minor paths' Ronald Blythe, Guardian
These most recent essays of the late Bob Scribner show his original and provocative views as a historian on the German Reformation. Subjects covered include popular culture, art, literacy, Anabaptism, witchcraft, Protestantism and magic.
Early New Englanders used magical techniques to divine the future, to heal the sick, to protect against harm and to inflict harm. Protestant ministers of the time claimed that religious faith and magical practice were incompatible, and yet, as Richard Godbeer shows, there were significant affinities between the two that enabled layfolk to switch from one to the other without any immediate sense of wrongdoing. Godbeer argues that the different perspectives on witchcraft engendered by magical tradition and Puritan doctrine often caused confusion and disagreement when New Englanders sought legal punishment of witches.
Here is a provocative analysis of culture in all of its variety, including especially the relationship of religion and Christianity to culture. Lamin Sanneh advocates reconnecting religion and Christianity to culture, realizing that humanity without a sense of transcendence cannot really achieve a fulfillment that is anything but "murky self-centeredness." According to Sanneh, in light of the exigencies of postmodern times world Christianity would do well to embrace an alternative vision - one of global neighborliness - and then effectively model that vision as the new humanity for the twenty-first century and beyond.
Superstition and Magic in Early Modern Europe brings together a rich selection of essays which represent the most important historical research on religion, magic and superstition in early modern Europe. Each essay makes a significant contribution to the history of magic and religion in its own right, while together they demonstrate how debates over the topic have evolved over time, providing invaluable intellectual, historical, and socio-political context for readers approaching the subject for the first time. The essays are organised around five key themes and areas of controversy. Part One tackles superstition; Part Two, the tension between miracles and magic; Part Three, ghosts and apparitions; Part Four, witchcraft and witch trials; and Part Five, the gradual disintegration of the 'magical universe' in the face of scientific, religious and practical opposition. Each part is prefaced by an introduction that provides an outline of the historiography and engages with recent scholarship and debate, setting the context for the essays that follow and providing a foundation for further study. This collection is an invaluable toolkit for students of early modern Europe, providing both a focused overview and a springboard for broader thinking about the underlying continuities and discontinuities that make the study of magic and superstition a perennially fascinating topic.
Considering a variety of questions centering on magic and, or in, performance, this volume furthers the debate about the cultural work performed by representations of magic on the early modern English stage. Collectively the essays show that the idea of transformation applies not only to the objects and subjects of magic, but that the plays themselves can be seen as working to effect transformation in the ways that they challenge contemporary assumptions and stereotypes.
This work marks the 400th anniversary of the death of one of England's greatest monarchs, a highly intelligent and successful ruler. The volume appeals to everyone interested in the charismatic character of Elizabeth I, her time and cultural afterlife. Contributors focus on important aspects of Elizabeth's subtle and resourceful political power and the longstanding struggle she faced at home and abroad as well as the threats posed to her realm. This edition presents a series of essays about fictional representations of Queen Elizabeth I in literature, music, and film. Articles illuminate the fascinating story of her numerous afterlives and their significance for the cultural history of England, its sense of identity and psyche. Essays investigate the ceremony, festivities, and dance practices at her court and bring to life the cultural significance of this colorful and extraordinary monarch. Christa Jansohn is professor of British culture at the University of Bamberg, Germany.