Servants of Satan: The Age of the Witch Hunts

Servants of Satan: The Age of the Witch Hunts

Servants of Satan: The Age of the Witch Hunts

Servants of Satan: The Age of the Witch Hunts


This is the first book to consider the general course and significance of the European witch craze of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries since H.R. Trevor-Roper's classic and pioneering study appeared some fifteen years ago. Drawing upon the advances in historical and social-science scholarship of the past decade and a half, Joseph Klaits integrates the recent appreciations of witchcraft in regional studies, the history of popular culture, anthropology, sociology, and psychology to better illuminate the place of witch hunting in the context of social, political, economic and religious change.


This book is an extended essay, reflecting on and synthesizing the extensive recent literature on the witch craze of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. the chapters began as a series of course lectures designed to help bridge the gap between the interests of undergraduates and the concerns of scholars. I owe a great deal to the students at Oakland University and Catholic University of America whose questions and suggestions forced me to clarify my thinking and improve the presentation.

Many others contributed comments on earlier chapter drafts or led me to materials I otherwise might have overlooked. I especially want to thank for their encouragement and good advice Donald Bailey, Jack Censer, Richard Golden, B. Robert Kreiser, Lawrence Orton, Orest Ranum, Dan Ross, and Timothy Tackett, and to acknowledge the invaluable assistance of the late Marian Wilson. a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and sabbatical and research support from Oakland University gave me the leisure and resources necessary to complete the project.

Throughout the years of research and writing, this book has been a family project in our household. It began when Alexander was small enough to take witchcraft even more seriously than did his father. the writing ends with Frederick old enough to do the bibliography. For their inspiration, and for Barrie’s, my deepest thanks.

Columbia, Maryland April 1984 . . .

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