From the gruesome ogress in Hansel and Gretel to the
hags at the sabbath in Faust, the witch has been a
powerful figure of the Western imagination. In the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries thousands of women confessed to being
witches-of making pacts with the Devil, causing babies to sicken,
and killing animals and crops-and were put to death. This book is a
gripping account of the pursuit, interrogation, torture, and
burning of witches during this period and beyond.
Drawing on hundreds of original trial transcripts and other rare
sources in four areas of Southern Germany, where most of the
witches were executed, Lyndal Roper paints a vivid picture of their
lives, families, and tribulations. She also explores the psychology
of witch-hunting, explaining why it was mostly older women that
were the victims of witch crazes, why they confessed to crimes, and
how the depiction of witches in art and literature has influenced
the characterization of elderly women in our own culture.
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