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Witches and Neighbours 2e

3.7  ·  Rating Details ·  161 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
"Witches and Neighbours "is a highly original and unconventional analysis of a fascinating historical phenomenon. Unlike other studies of the subject which focus on the mechanisms of persecution, this book presents a rich picture of witchcraft as an all-pervasive aspect of life in early modern Europe.
This book is not available from Blackwell in the United States and the Ph
Paperback, 420 pages
Published February 25th 2002 by Wiley-Blackwell (first published January 1st 1996)
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Katherine Addison
For most of this book, I was planning to blog about it and say basically, "This is a pretty good book." And then I hit the last chapter and the evolutionary psychology and no. He lost all the good will he'd built up and I started yelling.

LEAVING THAT ASIDE, this is a pretty good book. It is interesting and helpful because it is a comparison of witchhunts in various countries, and since I don't know very much about European witchhunts except what "everybody knows," I found the material fascinatin
Mary Catelli
May 14, 2016 Mary Catelli rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An in-depth look at the belief and trials and conditions of the witch craze

How the confession told of making pacts, about the sabbat and how hierarchical it was, with the demons all ordered and the witches too, by wealth as they were in real life, so the poor witches arrived on brooms and rich ones on carriages, and the food was horrible (or possibly totally illusionary, you were hungry when you went home) and the common practice was to produce hail and so ruin crops.

The Devil was said to promis
This book is on a reading list for the class I TA, so the copy I read has evidently been used by a whole generation of undergrads, with the marginalia to prove it. On the page facing the conclusion is a drawing of Harry Potter, with the caption: "today is my birthday!" Conclusion: undergrads are ridiculous, and this book is very brightly coloured as a result.

Argues that there was no culture of the occult in early modern Europe, but that witchcraft was instead a construct that was culturally loca
Witches and Neighbors covers the witch phenomenon in Europe and New England particularly at its height in the 16th and 17th century. Robin Briggs outlines the supernatural claims made by those accused of witchcraft. He further identifies these witches as part of a large equation, using a motif of small villages where there exists a web of dependency amongst peasants, land owners, nobleman, clergy, and, in many areas, the incipient state. Briggs further heavily weighs the psychological and sociol ...more
I enjoyed reading this book, and there were lots of interesting examples to back up the broader generalizations about witchcraft beliefs. I came to realize that a lot of things I thought I knew about belief in witches were actually wrong. I found it really interesting that the confessions pretty much all followed a standard pattern, the same way folklore and modern urban legends do -- partly because back then Everyone Knew what witches did the same way Everyone Knows now what happens to alien ab ...more
May 23, 2013 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the witch book to read if you want a ground-up, common peoples' history of witchcraft belief. Anecdote heavy. One good way to read this would be to just skim it, dipping into the brief example stories whenever you want - you'll get a lot of interesting glimpses of little moments in European village life, moments that led to accusations of witchcraft.
Briggs basically believes that small town social life is what witchcraft is all about. These sorts of beliefs exist everywhere people live
I borrowed this book from a friend, and I do appreciate the loan: it has a lot of good ideas, and I learned a lot from reading it. However, the prose was too opaque, and the organization too repetitive, to make it a fulfilling read.

Witches and Neighbors seems to be Robin Briggs' entry into an ongoing discussion about the causes and effects of European "witchcraft." I had the impression that he was inspired to write partially by the modern neopagan movements: several times he points out that the
Oct 16, 2014 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very thorough, very dry investigation of the European witch trials. Well cited. Would be good for reference.
Ms. A.
Apr 02, 2011 Ms. A. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a good survey on the topic of withcraft, especially with regard to how it fits into the social context. Briggs doesn't develop the topic wholly, likely because his intended audience would not receive it well. For basic information this is a great start, for more information this book should be coupled with other works including Mary Murphy's much debated early work, and works by Richard Kieckhefer, Norman Cohn, and Carlo Ginzberg. Additionally, placing this contextually alongside other H ...more
Feb 11, 2008 James rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gramary-glands
A little muddled at the time I read it, but I was in high school and it could've just been me. Did not find this all that fascinating, however.
Greg Chapman
Apr 28, 2011 Greg Chapman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very imformative insight into the possible reasons/causes behind the witchcraft craze of the middle ages.
ok maybe fun isnt the word but interesting history nonetheless
Jan 31, 2010 Korene rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Nonfiction. Am reading it as research for Universum.
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“[T]he witch appears to have alternated between being a terrifying enemy who could bring ruin and death and a pathetic figure to be despised and insulted.” 1 likes
“To be the child of a conficted or reputed witch was inherently dangerous; in one pathetic case in Lorraine a young couple were both accused, and it emerged that they had decided to marry after attending an execution at the stake of their respective parents, 'so that they would have nothing to reproach one another with.” 1 likes
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