Social & Industrial History
Witchcraft and Witch Hunting in the West
Why were witch hunts so prevalent in Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries, apparently a period of increasing confidence and rationality? This study explores the motivations – social, personal and political – behind accusations of witchcraft; contemporary beliefs about ‘assaults of Satan’; and connections between witch trials and the medieval persecution of heretics. The author also describes more recent responses to fears of satanic influence and identifies the lessons we can still learn about the need to re-examine our preconceived ideas.