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Brutish Babies

David Wootton: Witchcraft, 11 November 1999

Shaman of Oberstdorf: Chonrad Stoeckhlin and the Phantoms of the Night 
by Wolfgang Behringer, translated by H.C.Erik Midelfort.
Virginia, 203 pp., £14.50, September 1998, 0 8139 1853 7
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Thinking with Demons: The Idea of Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe 
by Stuart Clark.
Oxford, 845 pp., £25, October 1999, 0 19 820001 3
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Witchcraft in Tudor and Stuart England 
by Alan Macfarlane.
Routledge, 368 pp., £55, April 1999, 0 415 19611 6
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The Bewitching of Anne Gunter: A Horrible and True Story of Football, Witchcraft, Murder and the King of England 
by James Sharpe.
Profile, 256 pp., £16.99, November 1999, 9781861970480
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... of the witch-hunt begins with a series of books published nearly thirty years ago by Hugh Trevor-Roper, Alan Macfarlane, Keith Thomas and Erik Midelfort. Until very recently, however, it was the history of trials on the Continent alone that seemed a lively subject, and in 1996 Diane Purkiss could still properly complain of ...

The World Took Sides

Diarmaid MacCulloch: Martin Luther, 10 August 2016

Brand Luther: How an Unheralded Monk Turned His Small Town into a Centre of Publishing, Made Himself the Most Famous Man in Europe – and Started the Protestant Reformation 
by Andrew Pettegree.
Penguin, 383 pp., £21.99, October 2015, 978 1 59420 496 8
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Martin Luther: Renegade and Prophet 
by Lyndal Roper.
Bodley Head, 577 pp., £30, June 2016, 978 1 84792 004 1
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Martin Luther: Visionary Reformer 
by Scott H. Hendrix.
Yale, 341 pp., £25, October 2015, 978 0 300 16669 9
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... vast cache of spare merit lay in the custody of the church, and in such circumstances it was only proper and merciful to dispense gobbets of merit to the faithful in order to shorten purgatory pains. In the end, only a few years before Luther was born, the theology of merit had stretched to saying that one could pay hard cash for certified amounts of time of ...

Your Soft German Heart

Richard J. Evans: ‘The German War’, 13 July 2016

The German War: A Nation under Arms, 1939-45 
by Nicholas Stargardt.
Bodley Head, 701 pp., £25, September 2015, 978 1 84792 099 7
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... the difficulty of trying to reconstruct the way people felt in the past. As the Oxford historian Lyndal Roper warned, ‘it is hard to see how to write a historical account of the subjectivity of groups rather than individuals.’ Love and hate, anxiety and fear are difficult to define and even more difficult to pin down in historical sources. Ute ...

Unnatural Rebellion

Malcolm Gaskill: ‘Witches’, 2 November 2017

The Witch: A History of Fear, from Ancient Times to the Present 
by Ronald Hutton.
Yale, 360 pp., £25, August 2017, 978 0 300 22904 2
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... Dahl’s witches are all women. Dahl belongs to a long tradition of making fun from misogyny. As Lyndal Roper observed in an essay of 2006, the infamous treatise Malleus maleficarum (‘The Hammer of Witches’), first published in 1486, was meant to be amusing as well as alarming. The Late Lancashire Witches, a play of 1634 by Thomas Heywood and ...

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