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Theology and popular belief

The Malleus Maleficarum is one of the best-known treatises dealing with the problem of what to do with witches. Written in 1487 by a Dominican inquisitor, Heinrich Institoris, following his failure to prosecute a number of women for witchcraft, it is in many ways a highly personal document, full of frustration at official complacency in the face of a spiritual threat, as well as being a practical guide for law-officers who have to deal with a cunning, dangerous enemy. Combining theological discussion, illustrative anecdotes and useful advice for those involved in suppressing witchcraft, the treatise's influence on witchcraft studies has been extensive. The only previous translation into English, that by Montague Summers in 1928, is full of inaccuracies. It is written in a style almost unreadable nowadays, and is unfortunately coloured by Institoris's personal agenda. This new edited translation, with an introductory essay setting witchcraft, Institoris and the Malleus into clear English, corrects Summers' mistakes and offers an unvarnished version of what Institoris actually wrote. It will undoubtedly become the standard translation of this controversial late medieval text.

Rothenburg, 1561–1652
Author: Alison Rowlands

Given the widespread belief in witchcraft and the existence of laws against such practices, why did witch-trials fail to gain momentum and escalate into ‘witch-crazes’ in certain parts of early modern Europe? This book answers this question by examining the rich legal records of the German city of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a city that experienced a very restrained pattern of witch-trials and just one execution for witchcraft between 1561 and 1652. The book explores the factors that explain the absence of a ‘witch-craze’ in Rothenburg, placing particular emphasis on the interaction of elite and popular priorities in the pursuit (and non-pursuit) of alleged witches at law. By making the witchcraft narratives told by the peasants and townspeople of Rothenburg central to its analysis, the book also explores the social and psychological conflicts that lay behind the making of accusations and confessions of witchcraft. Furthermore, it challenges the existing explanations for the gender-bias of witch-trials, and also offers insights into other areas of early modern life, such as experiences of and beliefs about communal conflict, magic, motherhood, childhood and illness. Written in a narrative style, the study invites a wide readership to share in the drama of early modern witch trials.

Author: Stephen Miller

Feudalism, venality, and revolution is about the political and social order revealed by the monarchy’s most ambitious effort to reform its institutions, the introduction of participatory assemblies at all levels of the government. It should draw the attention of anyone interested in the sort of social and political conditions that predisposed people to make the French Revolution. In particular, according to Alexis de Tocqueville’s influential work on the Old Regime and the French Revolution, royal centralization had so weakened the feudal power of the nobles that their remaining privileges became glaringly intolerable to commoners. Feudalism, venality, and revolution challenges this theory by showing that when Louis XVI convened assemblies of landowners in the late 1770s and 1780s to discuss policies needed to resolve the budgetary crisis, he faced widespread opposition from lords and office holders. These elites regarded the assemblies as a challenge to their hereditary power over commoners. The monarchy incorporated an administration of seigneurial jurisdictions and venal offices. Lordships and offices upheld inequality on behalf of the nobility and bred the discontent evident in the French Revolution. These findings will alter the way scholars think about the Old Regime society and state and should therefore find a large market among graduate students and professors of European history.

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The marriage of Tudor England and Habsburg Spain

The co-monarchy of Mary I and Philip II put England at the heart of early modern Europe. This positive reassessment of their joint reign counters a series of parochial, misogynist and anti-Catholic assumptions, correcting the many myths that have grown up around the marriage and explaining the reasons for its persistent marginalisation in the historiography of Tudor England. Using new archival discoveries and original sources it argues for Mary as a great Catholic queen, while fleshing out Philip’s important contributions as king of England. It demonstrates the success and many positive achievements of this glittering dynastic union in everything from culture, music and art to cartography, commerce and exploration. Philip and Mary’s negative reputation derives from a particular version of English identity and reflects confessional differences in early modern English history. The acceptability of Mary’s foreign marriage will continue to reflect the evolving relationship between Britain and Europe, and its cultural politics. Moving from the commercial and strategic interests served by Anglo-Spanish alliances, it analyses the negotiations and marriage contract, Mary’s government, the Act for the Queen’s Regal Power, the Wyatt rebellion, the co-monarchy, gynophobic polemic, court culture and ceremony, bilingual lexicography, portraiture and print, and the historical (mis)fortunes of this glittering dynastic match.

This book explores the Spanish elite’s fixation on social and racial “passing” and “passers” as represented in a wide range of texts produced in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It examines literary and non-literary works that express the dominant Spaniards’ anxiety that socially mobile New Christians could impersonate and pass as versions of themselves. Current scholarship has implicitly postulated that the social energy that led to the massive marginalization of New Christians and/or lowborns from central social spaces, and the marginals’ attempts to hide their true identity, had its roots in the elite’s rejection of sociocultural and genealogical heterogeneity, or “difference.” Christina Lee makes a key intervention in this discussion by proposing that there was a parallel phenomenon at play that might have been as resounding as an anxiety roused by the presence of those who were clearly different, a phenomenon she calls “the anxiety of sameness.” Lee argues that while conspicuous religious and socio-cultural difference was certainly perturbing and unsettling, in some ways, it was not as threatening to the dominant Spanish identity as the potential discovery of the arbitrariness that separated them from the undesirables of society. Students and seasoned scholars of Spanish history and literature will not only benefit from Lee’s arguments about the elite’s attempt to deny the fluidity of early modern identity, but also gain from her fresh readings of the works of Cervantes, Lope de Vega, and Quevedo, as well as her analyses of lesser known works, such as joke books, treatises, genealogical catalogues, and documentary accounts.

Fénelon, Jacobitism and the political works of the Chevalier Ramsay

Andrew Michael Ramsay (1686-1743) was a Scottish Jacobite émigré who spent most of his adult life in France. His political works predominantly relied on a mixture of British and French doctrines to stimulate a Jacobite restoration to the British throne. Ambitious and controversial, Ramsay believed that key reforms and a growing empire would make Britain the ‘capital of the universe.’ His position as an intellectual conduit between the two kingdoms enables an extensive assessment of the political thought in Britain and France. Examining a number of important thinkers from the 1660s to the 1730s, this work stresses the significance of seventeenth century ideology on the following century. Crucially, the monograph explores the exchange of ideas between the two countries in the early Enlightenment. A time when Britain had rejected the absolutist pretensions of James II in the Glorious Revolution (1688) to protect mixed sovereignty and a key role for Parliament. This enshrinement of liberty and mixed government struck a chord in France with theorists opposed to Louis XIV’s form of centralised sovereignty. Following Louis XIV’s death in 1715, greater support for monarchical reform became evident in French political theory. Aided by the viewpoints and methodology of intellectual conduits such as Ramsay, shared perspectives emerged in the two countries on the future of monarchy.