Lyndal Roper: Daniel Snowman Meets the Historian of Witches and Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe. (Today's History)

By Snowman, Daniel | History Today, January 2002 | Go to article overview

Lyndal Roper: Daniel Snowman Meets the Historian of Witches and Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe. (Today's History)


Snowman, Daniel, History Today


RELIGIOUS FUNDAMENTALISM, mass hysteria, mysterious poisonings, coded messages, the subjugation of women, the demonisation and slaughter of outcasts and a struggle for hearts and minds between opposing ideologies -- and that's just seventeenth-century Augsburg! But it would not be surprising if Lyndal Roper's subject matter also suggested messages for our own troubled times.

I sometimes think there are two Lyndal Ropers. The first writes vivid and often searing accounts of the experiences of women accused of witchcraft in southern Germany in early modern times. Thus Regina Bartholome was tried and incarcerated for (among other things) confessing to having had intercourse with the Devil, while Catharina Schmid, it seems, caused a young girl to be possessed and also used mysterious means to bring about the deaths of the wife and children of a neighbour. Anna Megerler, a supposed healer and sorceress, claimed to have given occult and astrological advice to the great Augsburg banker Anton Fugger. Roper Mark II, meanwhile, operates on the more elevated level of theory, examining the links between the social and the psychological, penetrating the arcana of Weber, Elias and Klein, and struggling to advance and integrate the latest insights of feminist history, psychohistory and cultural studies.

The two come together in a string of stimulating essays and a pair of pioneering books which, between them, suggest a major reassessment of the history of early modern Europe and, thereby, of the world to which we are heir. This connection between our forbears and ourselves is important to Roper. Although she is Professor of Early Modern History at Royal Holloway (University of London), and obviously devoted to her craft, she protests quite unselfconsciously that `I've never really thought of myself as primarily a historian!'

She is a historian -- and much more. Lyndal Roper was born in Melbourne in 1956 (a few months before the Olympic Games came to town). Her first encounters with history were probably at the knee of her grandfather, a passionate trade unionist, who would pour out animated and angry reminiscences of Gallipoli. Lyndal's mother taught drama and literature and had a strong interest in psychodrama; her father, who had done intelligence work in Germany after the Second World War, went on to obtain a theology degree and for a while became a somewhat heterodox minister of religion.

By the time Lyndal entered the University of Melbourne, where she sailed through a degree in History and Philosophy, several strands of her later work were beginning to emerge: an interest in the early modern past and in the changing role of women and the family, and a curiosity about the states of mind that lead people to label themselves and others by reference to irrational dogma. At `Uni' Lyndal encountered a succession of inspiring teachers. One, the historian Charles Zika, encouraged her to go to Germany for her postgraduate work.

From her base in Tubingen, Roper undertook research on the role of women in early modern Germany, journeying to various towns, among them Ulm and Stuttgart, seeking documentation, such as Council minutes, that, on inspection, often proved elusive, indecipherable or non-existent. For a twenty-two-year-old Australian girl in Europe for the first time in her life, equipped with (as yet) somewhat shaky German, these were lonely and demoralising days. But she persevered and eventually discovered in Augsburg just the kind of documentation she needed: a wonderful cache of criminal records that brimmed over with information about domestic life. Herein lay the basis of Roper's PhD about women and morals in Reformation Augsburg (supervised by Bob Scribner, another important influence). It was eventually to materialise (in 1989) as her book The Holy Household.

`My thanks, first of all,' Roper proclaims at the top of the Acknowledgements page in The Holy Household, `to the Women's Movement, without which this book could not have been written'. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Lyndal Roper: Daniel Snowman Meets the Historian of Witches and Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe. (Today's History)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.