In 1997, Stuart Clark published the first monograph since the time of Jules Michelet to focus on pre-modern ideas about witches. The language of belief in witchcraft studies betrays an anachronistic, modernist and dismissive approach to a mental universe quite different from our own. This book makes the male witch visible, to construct him as a historical subject, as a first step toward a deeper understanding of the functions and role of gender in pre-modern European witch-hunting and ideas about witches. The overtly political dimension to the study of witches in early modern Europe demands a high level of consciousness and reflexivity regarding language, representation, and meaning. William Monter provides a wealth of data about male witches, in an 'unremarkable province' close to 'the heart of northern and western Europe'. Here, men comprised the majority of those tried and executed for witchcraft. The book examines cases in which men were accused of witchcraft. The examples are drawn from several different regions, in order to test conventional generalisations about male witches. The agency theory posits that actors always have choices; 'agent-centred' morality proposes a novel twist on both traditional Kantian internalist categories. The problems of both male and female witches' agency and selfhood are discussed. The book also presents data compiled from ten canonical works, and a brief discussion of demonological illustrations. Finally, it addresses the question of what it means to label a man as a witch within a framework that explicitly and implicitly feminised witchcraft.
issues of gender. We have set out in this book to make the male witch
visible – to construct him as a historical subject – as a first
step toward a deeper understanding of the functions and role of gender in
pre-modern Europeanwitch-hunting and ideas about witches. Our focus is,
necessarily, not on a discrete body of court cases,local events or a
specific period; rather,we begin with a critique of the very considerable
modern Europe. Witchhunting, like plague and the Black Death, has become a stock phrase used to describe many modern events. Prosecutions or persecutions that appear to target any individual or group with unseemly enthusiasm and questionable justification are called a ‘witch hunt’. Bizarrely, this past tragedy has survived and become embedded in the modern consciousness while the pogroms and massacres of Jews in the course of the fifteenth century are not especially well known (perhaps having been obliterated by the more horrific manifestations of twentieth