Read Instruments of Darkness: Witchcraft in Early Modern England by J.A. Sharpe Online

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They flew through the air, consorted with animals, and made pacts with the devil. Witches were as unquestioned as alchemy or astrology in medieval England; yet it wasn't until the midsixteenth century that laws were passed against them. Now a leading historian of crime and society in early modern England offers the first scholarly overview of witchcraft in that country inThey flew through the air, consorted with animals, and made pacts with the devil. Witches were as unquestioned as alchemy or astrology in medieval England; yet it wasn't until the midsixteenth century that laws were passed against them. Now a leading historian of crime and society in early modern England offers the first scholarly overview of witchcraft in that country in over eighty years, examining how tensions between church, state, and society produced widespread distrust among fearful people.Instruments of Darkness takes readers back to a time when witchcraft was accepted as reality at all levels of society. James Sharpe draws on legal records and other sources to reveal the interplay between witchcraft beliefs in different partts in the social hierarchy. Along the way, he offers disturbing accounts of witch-hunts, such as the East Anglian trials of 1645-47 that sent more than 100 people to the gallows. He tells how poor, elderly women were most often accused of witchcraft and challenges feminist claims that witch-hunts represented male persecution by showing that many accusers were themselves women.Prosecution of witches gradually declined with increasing skepticism among jurists, new religious attitudes, and scientific advances that explained away magic. But for two hundred years, thousands participated in one of history's most notorious persecutions. Instruments of Darkness is a fascinating case study that deepens our understanding of this age-old cultural phenomenon and sheds new light on one society in which it occurred....

Title : Instruments of Darkness: Witchcraft in Early Modern England
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780812216332
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 384 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Instruments of Darkness: Witchcraft in Early Modern England Reviews

  • Joseph F.
    2019-05-10 20:14

    The author gives us here a very exhaustive view of witchcraft in that little country we know as England. Not Great Britain, just jolly old England. So you will not see anything here concerning Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales. (Although Wales never seems to come up in books dealing with the history of witchcraft).So Sharpe gives us a very focused book. Although continental witchcraft does come up at times for the sake of comparison, this work paints a picture of the peculiarities concerning English witchcraft. For example, witches were not burned, but hanged. The idea of the familiar was popular here, and less so on the continent. Thus the famous witche's mark was more like a teat than a simple mark (in order to feed the familiar.) I like ghoulish things like this. But as the history of witchcraft is to a large extent a legal history, it is just a matter of time before the justice system of England is talked about. This is good or bad depending on how excited you are about legal history! so we then learn about the assizes of England and the fact that the justice system was less inquisitorial than it was elsewhere. Sharpe's book is interesting to those who love this stuff. But it may not find too much love with those who don't care about history. He writes in a straight forward style that is not dull, but not too exciting either. That's fine by me, but a few complaints include the fact that Sharpe refers to cases of witchcraft often, without starting with the story from beginning to end. For example, he/she refers to different facts of the Lancashire trials to illustrate different points throughout the book. It works well when dealing with proving a point, but the reader is left with a rather complex and confused picture as to what the heck happened, from beginning to end, at Lancashire! of course the author is in a tough spot, if he/she gave a brief description of all the cases that were referred to, the book may have been too big. But perhaps some of the larger, more notorious cases could have been more sketched out, such as the one mentioned above, and the episode at Warboys, as well as some others.Another small complaint is the size of the print. Really, really small! I'm old! I like larger print. It made me feel like I was plowing through a 400 hundred page book rather than a 300 page one.But still, this would be a good addition to your history of witchcraft book collection, if you are thinking of starting one. Just don't make it the first one; it's a tad overwhelming. And have good lighting!

  • Heather
    2019-05-11 19:13

    This is a short but informative book by James A. Sharpe, a great historian on the subject. James Sharpe examines why witch hunts occured in early modern England, and looks at contemporary views of witchcraft. James Sharpe provides an overview of the current arguments and schools of thought regarding the period. He also addresses the gender dimensions of the witch persecutions since the majority of people accused of witchcraft in England were women. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the subject. It's a great introduction into the study of early modern english witchcraft trials.

  • Cheryl
    2019-05-27 13:56

    I gave Instruments of Darkness 3 stars for the copious amounts of information that it contains and not necessary for the quality of writing. It is completely packed with examples of witchcraft which means that it can get rather boring. Honestly, this book is best when skimmed for the main ideas. But, despite my misgivings as to Sharpe's writing abilities (at least when it comes to readability), the analysis of witchcraft in this book is very compelling. Sharpe does a good job of giving a new perspective on witchcraft in early modern England.

  • Heather
    2019-04-29 19:51

    James Sharpe is a well known historian on the topic of witchcraft in early modern England. The witchcraft trials in England were different from their contiental counterparts and that becomes apparent in this book. Sharpe comes to some great conclusions. Mr. Sharpe analyzed how tensions between church, state, and society were able to produce such widespread fear that led to the witchcraft accusations and trials. I really enjoyed this book and learned a lot from it. I highly recommend this to anyone who wants to learn more about the subject.

  • Annalisa
    2019-05-03 18:15

    An introduction to both witchcraft in early modern England and what scholars have argued about it. It also includes excerpts from 27 documents from the period, which is a great help to drawing my own conclusions about the period.

  • Lynne
    2019-05-21 18:18

    Great - erudite and accessible. Lifts the metaphorical lid from some of the ridiculous myths that have grown up around accusations and trials, especially that of the 'swimming' torture. Academic and well researched. Anyone who's remotely interested should read this.

  • J.D. Yoakum
    2019-04-27 15:08

    Walks the line between survey and argument well. A bit too critical of Thomas and Macfarlane, but still an excellent and important addition to the historiography of witchcraft.

  • Michael
    2019-05-24 13:15

    Great read!