By expanding the geographical scope of the history of violence and war, this volume challenges both Western and state-centric narratives of the decline of violence and its relationship to modernity. It highlights instead similarities across early modernity in terms of representations, legitimations, applications of, and motivations for violence. It seeks to integrate methodologies of the study of violence into the history of war, thereby extending the historical significance of both fields of research. Thirteen case studies outline the myriad ways in which large-scale violence was understood and used by states and non-state actors throughout the early modern period across Africa, Asia, the Americas, the Atlantic, and Europe, demonstrating that it was far more complex than would be suggested by simple narratives of conquest and resistance. Moreover, key features of imperial violence apply equally to large-scale violence within societies. As the authors argue, violence was a continuum, ranging from small-scale, local actions to full-blown war. The latter was privileged legally and increasingly associated with states during early modernity, but its legitimacy was frequently contested and many of its violent forms, such as raiding and destruction of buildings and crops, could be found in activities not officially classed as war.
We started to write this book as a survey of witch-hunting; it took on a new shape as our understanding of early modern witches and witchcraft changed and expanded. Parts of this work have gone through several mutations: a Master’s thesis, course materials, and various conference papers.
We have preserved early modern orthography, punctuation and syntax in quotations and titles, and provided explanations as necessary.
We should like to thank Jeremy Black, Rick Bowers, Thomas A. Brady, Jr., Linda Bridges, Angeles Espinaco-Virseda, Beth Forrest, George Frost (the PhotoShop whiz), Brad Gregory, Michael Hawkins, Johannes Heil, John Kitchen, Chris Mackay, Julian Martin, Yoshie Mitsuyoshi, Christopher Ocker, Markus Reisenleitner, Petra Seegets, Jennifer Selwyn, Dennis Sweeney, the students of History 300 (autumn term 2000) and History 615 (winter 2002), the staff of Manchester University Press, and the anonymous reader commissioned by MUP for their help, comments, constructive criticism and encouragement; and the University of Alberta and its Department of History and Classics for material support. Any errors are, of course, our own. We also thank the staff of the Bruce Peel Special Collections Library at the University of Alberta and the Houghton Library at Harvard University. Finally, our families deserve our deep gratitude for their support and patience.