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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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... from very different viewpoints: from those of early modern legislators (Bostridge), lawyers (Behringer), theologians and scientists (Clark), as well as from those of both accusers and accused. Because of the nature of the sources, the trials have provided some of the best examples of ‘microhistory’ or ‘the new narrative’. This, pioneered in ...

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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... was executed for claiming that he sent his soul on nocturnal journeys across the astral plane. Wolfgang Behringer, the historian who discovered his story in the archives, dubbed him ‘the Shaman of Oberstdorf’, although as one reviewer, Georg Modestin, pointed out, there wasn’t actually much shamanism in ...

The natives did a bunk

Malcolm Gaskill: The Little Ice Age

19 July 2018
A Cold Welcome: The Little Ice Age and Europe’s Encounter with North America 
by Sam White.
Harvard, 361 pp., £23.95, October 2017, 978 0 674 97192 9
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... crop-flattening hailstorms, for example), were blamed by their anxious neighbours. The historian Wolfgang Behringer has suggested that the Little Ice Age was a fundamental cause of the European ‘witch-craze’. Migration into towns and cities led inevitably to overcrowding, disease, crime and social unrest. The biting French winter of 1709 triggered ...

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