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Europe's Inner Demons: The Demonization of Christians in Medieval Christendom

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  167 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
Europe's Inner Demons is a fascinating history of the irrational need to imagine witches and an investigation of how those fantasies made the persecutions of the middle ages possible. In addition, Norman Cohn's discovery that some influential sources on European witch trials were forgeries has revolutionized the field of witchcraft, making this one of the most essential bo ...more
Paperback, 281 pages
Published January 15th 2001 by University Of Chicago Press
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Bryn Hammond
Mar 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Half and half.

We are as subject as ever to conspiracy theories, so that a stranger messaged me on Twitter with 'do you have information that the Jews did 9/11?' and three of my uncles believe Obama is a secret Muslim. Norman Cohn has been a bit of an expert on these matters, from the Protocol of the Elders to -- Chaucer's Jew tale, which proves that conspiracy theories can last for centuries.

Here he examines one that did. It's the back story to the witch trials, and traces the set of accusatio
Camilo Andrés
Sep 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Leí a Norman Cohn hace muchos años cuando compré “En pos del milenio: Revolucionarios milenaristas y anarquistas místicos de la Edad Media”. Recuerdo que estaba buscando un libro de Gustav Meyrink, pero el de Cohn se me cruzó en el camino, y ese título hipnótico no permitió que lo dejara de lado. Lo leí esa misma semana, algo un poco extraño para mis hábitos bibliófilos, y desde ese momento se convirtió en uno de mis libros favoritos.

Busqué infructuosamente otros libros de Cohn, pero el autor ha
The intellectual, historical, and cultural/sociological origins of the European Witch-Trials are explored in Europe’s Inner Demons. A thought-provoking and compelling introduction to the issue.

Norman Cohn looks at early/Medieval Christianity, early European history, and the role of mass hysteria coupled with cunning political manipulations that led to the outburst of mass-murder in the 15th through the 17th century. Thereafter the trials slowly decreased and finally vanished—though there have b
Jan 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I found this book to be quite intriguing. Mr. Cohn's linguistic abilities gave him access to reading and understanding original texts that he draws upon to uncover the history of "witchcraft" persecutions in Medieval Europe.

Starting as early as the persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire, Mr. Cohn gives an excellent account of how Christians, most specifically Catholics, used what had been done to them to persecute others who did not follow or conform to the Christian beliefs as prescribe
Katherine Addison
Cohn spends a great deal of time in deconstructing the work of other scholars, and although I was pretty much expressly forbidden from doing that in my dissertation (and I still don't quite understand why), I enjoy that kind of analysis, and Cohn is very good at it. His intellectual project is largely about the ways in which those arguments got constructed. Cohn is taking apart the myths modern scholars have invented and perpetuated about the origins of the European witch-hunts. His focus is the ...more
Alfredo González
Los demonios familiares de Europa narra la historia de la creencia en brujas, magos, hechiceros y otras supersticiones todas ellas productos de la imaginacion fertil en los tiempos del oscurantismo. Desgraciadamente esas creencias han ocasionado persecuciones tanto por parte de los estados europeos y mas allá, y de la institucion eclesiastica. Para combatir estas creencias se ha utilizado la tortura para obtener confesiones y miles de personas han sido quemadas vivas, todo ello por creer en stup ...more
May 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: the literate
I first read this book in college and have re-read it about half a dozen times. Now published in a significantly revised edition, it's even better than it was before. A concise history of witchcraft in Europe from antiquity to the early modern era, it's a fascinating study of how the essential judicial concern with witchcraft was based on earlier stereotypes of heretical groups and, before them, of pagan slurs against Christians. It's also a thorough demolition of Margaret Murray's ridiculous th ...more
Brendan Boehning
Feb 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
An exemplary history of ideas that clarifies a murky aspect of Medieval history. Like Cohn's other work, the modern parallels are largely left up to the reader to discern, but they are deep and wide-ranging. Without making it an explicit intention, the book is devastating to Christianity, exposing it's method of maintaining orthodoxy through the vicious dehumanization of any and all who strayed from Church doctrine. Impeccably sourced ans lucidly written, Europe's Inner Demons is essential histo ...more
Nov 17, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Though there are a number of unfortunate editing errors in the revised edition, the book is an excellent resource for learning about the rise of the early modern notion of the witch out of medieval notions and events.
Oct 28, 2016 added it
Shelves: nonfiction
I couldn't get through it.
A difficult book to read because you get so disgusted with human behavior and persecutions; very influential and original.
Ms. A.
Jan 29, 2011 rated it did not like it
I found I simply couldn't overcome Cohn's biases and so I questioned his research and conclusions.
Jun 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: witchcraft
Robert Vazquez Pacheco
Nov 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating and frightening!
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Jewish academic, historian and writer who spent fourteen years as a professorial fellow and as Astor-Wolfson Professor at the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom.

His main subject were the connection between medievel anti-semitism and contemporary anti-semitismn.

More about Norman Cohn...