Europe's Inner Demons

The Demonization of Christians In Medieval Christendom

Europe's Inner Demons

In this ground-breaking book, Professor Norman Cohn traces popular beliefs about witches to their origins. He examines the fantasies that inspired the great European witch-hunt of the 16th and 17th centuries when thousands of innocent people were tortured and burned alive. It is a fascinating history of the need to imagine antihuman conspiracies and an investigation of how those fantasies made the great European witch-hunt possible. In addition, Professor Cohn's discovery that some influential sources on witch trials were forgeries has revolutionized the field of witchcraft studies, making this one of the most essential books ever written on the subject.

Understanding Popular Culture

Europe from the Middle Ages to the Nineteenth Century

Understanding Popular Culture


Demon Lovers

Witchcraft, Sex, and the Crisis of Belief

Demon Lovers

On September 20, 1587, Walpurga Hausmännin of Dillingen in southern Germany was burned at the stake as a witch. Although she had confessed to committing a long list of maleficia (deeds of harmful magic), including killing forty—one infants and two mothers in labor, her evil career allegedly began with just one heinous act—sex with a demon. Fornication with demons was a major theme of her trial record, which detailed an almost continuous orgy of sexual excess with her diabolical paramour Federlin "in many divers places, . . . even in the street by night." As Walter Stephens demonstrates in Demon Lovers, it was not Hausmännin or other so-called witches who were obsessive about sex with demons—instead, a number of devout Christians, including trained theologians, displayed an uncanny preoccupation with the topic during the centuries of the "witch craze." Why? To find out, Stephens conducts a detailed investigation of the first and most influential treatises on witchcraft (written between 1430 and 1530), including the infamous Malleus Maleficarum (Hammer of Witches). Far from being credulous fools or mindless misogynists, early writers on witchcraft emerge in Stephens's account as rational but reluctant skeptics, trying desperately to resolve contradictions in Christian thought on God, spirits, and sacraments that had bedeviled theologians for centuries. Proof of the physical existence of demons—for instance, through evidence of their intercourse with mortal witches—would provide strong evidence for the reality of the supernatural, the truth of the Bible, and the existence of God. Early modern witchcraft theory reflected a crisis of belief—a crisis that continues to be expressed today in popular debates over angels, Satanic ritual child abuse, and alien abduction.

Women Who Fly

Goddesses, Witches, Mystics, and other Airborne Females

Women Who Fly

From the beautiful apsaras of Hindu myth to the swan maidens of European fairy tales, stories of flying women-some carried by wings, others by clouds, rainbows, floating scarves, and flying horses-reveal the perennial fascination with and ambivalence about female power and sexuality. In Women Who Fly, Serinity Young examines the motif of the flying woman as it appears in a wide variety of cultures and historical periods, in legends, myths, rituals, sacred narratives, and artistic productions. She considers supernatural women like the Valkyries of Norse legend, who transport men to immortality; winged deities like the Greek goddesses Iris and Nike; figures of terror like the Furies, witches, and succubi; airborne Christian mystics; and wayward, dangerous women like Lilith and Morgan le Fay. Looking beyond the supernatural, Young examines the modern mythology surrounding twentieth-century female aviators like Amelia Earhart and Hanna Reitsch. Throughout, Young demonstrates that female power has always been inextricably linked with female sexuality and that the desire to control it is a pervasive theme in these stories. This is vividly depicted, for example, in the twelfth-century Niebelungenlied, in which the proud warrior-queen Brünnhilde loses her great physical strength when she is tricked into surrendering her virginity. Even in the twentieth-century the same idea is reflected in the exploits of the comic book and film character Wonder Woman who, Young suggests, retains her physical strength only because her love for fellow aviator Steve Trevor goes unrequited. The first book to systematically chronicle the figure of the flying woman in myth, literature, art, and pop culture, Women Who Fly offers a fresh look at the ways in which women have both influenced and been understood by society and religious traditions throughout the ages and around the world.

The Oxford Handbook of Women and Gender in Medieval Europe

The Oxford Handbook of Women and Gender in Medieval Europe

The Oxford Handbook of Women and Gender in Medieval Europe provides a comprehensive overview of the gender rules encountered in Europe in the period between approximately 500 and 1500 C.E. The essays collected in this volume speak to interpretative challenges common to all fields of women's and gender history - that is, how best to uncover the experiences of ordinary people from archives formed mainly by and about elite males, and how to combine social histories of lived experiences with cultural histories of gendered discourses and identities. The collection focuses on Western Europe in the Middle Ages but offers some consideration of medieval Islam and Byzantium. The Handbook is structured into seven sections: Christian, Jewish, and Muslim thought; law in theory and practice; domestic life and material culture; labour, land, and economy; bodies and sexualities; gender and holiness; and the interplay of continuity and change throughout the medieval period. It contains material from some of the foremost scholars in this field, and it not only serves as the major reference text in medieval and gender studies, but also provides an agenda for future new research.

Witchcraft in Europe, 400-1700

A Documentary History

Witchcraft in Europe, 400-1700

A thoroughly revised, greatly expanded edition of the most important documentary history of European witchcraft ever published.

History in the Comic Mode

Medieval Communities and the Matter of Person

History in the Comic Mode

In this groundbreaking collection, twenty-one prominent medievalists discuss continuity and change in ideas of personhood and community and argue for the viability of the comic mode in the study and recovery of history. These scholars approach their sources not from a particular ideological viewpoint but with an understanding that all topics, questions, and explanations are viable. They draw on a variety of sources in Latin, Arabic, French, German, Middle English, and more, and employ a range of theories and methodologies, always keeping in mind that environments are inseparable from the making of the people who inhabit them and that these people are in part constituted by and understood in terms of their communities. Essays feature close readings of both familiar and lesser known materials, offering provocative interpretations of John of Rupescissa's alchemy; the relationship between the living and the saintly dead in Bernard of Clairvaux's sermons; the nomenclature of heresy in the early eleventh century; the apocalyptic visions of Robert of Uzès; Machiavelli's De principatibus; the role of "demotic religiosity" in economic development; and the visions of Elizabeth of Schönau. Contributors write as historians of religion, art, literature, culture, and society, approaching their subjects through the particular and the singular rather than through the thematic and the theoretical. Playing with the wild possibilities of the historical fragments at their disposal, the scholars in this collection advance a new and exciting approach to writing medieval history.

Angels and Demons

A Christian Primer of the Spiritual World

Angels and Demons

The supernatural world is prominent in many of today's movies, television shows, novels, and the popular imagination. But some of what is presented as grounded in a Christian worldview is in fact far from that. In Angels and Demons, Michael Patella, OSB, offers an accessible and fascinating look at supernatural realities as they really are presented in the Bible and Christian tradition. Among the topics Patella explores with a valuable combination of pastoral wisdom and academic rigor are: the role of angels in the ministry of Jesus the apocalyptic battle in Revelation the occult, possession, and the work of Satan what angels are and what they're not the Last Judgment: how? when? Readers will appreciate Patella's level-headed appraisal of the views of the supernatural world in the various sections of the Bible. They will be engaged by his lucid account of "Who's Who in Hell." They will be both comforted and inspired by his foundational conviction that Christ has claimed creation for the forces of good, evil is on the run, and there is no chance of the tide ever turning the other way, evil actions and human suffering notwithstanding.

Daughters of Hecate

Women and Magic in the Ancient World

Daughters of Hecate

Daughters of Hecate unites for the first time research on the problem of gender and magic in three ancient Mediterranean societies: early Judaism, Christianity, and Graeco-Roman culture. The book illuminates the gendering of ancient magic by approaching the topic from three distinct disciplinary perspectives: literary stereotyping, the social application of magic discourse, and material culture. The authors probe the foundations of, processes, and motivations behind gendered stereotypes, beginning with Western culture's earliest associations of women and magic in the Bible and Homer's Odyssey. Daughters of Hecate provides a nuanced exploration of the topic while avoiding reductive approaches. In fact, the essays in this volume uncover complexities and counter-discourses that challenge, rather than reaffirm, many gendered stereotypes taken for granted and reified by most modern scholarship. By combining critical theoretical methods with research into literary and material evidence, Daughters of Hecate interrogates a false association that has persisted from antiquity, to early modern witch hunts, to the present day.

The Templars, the Witch, and the Wild Irish

Vengeance and Heresy in Medieval Ireland

The Templars, the Witch, and the Wild Irish

Early medieval Ireland is remembered as the "Land of Saints and Scholars," due to the distinctive devotion to Christian faith and learning that permeated its culture. As early as the seventh century, however, questions were raised about Irish orthodoxy, primarily concerning Easter observances. Yet heresy trials did not occur in Ireland until significantly later, long after allegations of Irish apostasy from Christianity had sanctioned the English invasion of Ireland. In The Templars, the Witch, and the Wild Irish, Maeve Brigid Callan analyzes Ireland’s medieval heresy trials, which all occurred in the volatile fourteenth century. These include the celebrated case of Alice Kyteler and her associates, prosecuted by Richard de Ledrede, bishop of Ossory, in 1324. This trial marks the dawn of the "devil-worshipping witch" in European prosecutions, with Ireland an unexpected birthplace. Callan divides Ireland’s heresy trials into three categories. In the first stand those of the Templars and Philip de Braybrook, whose trial derived from the Templars’, brought by their inquisitor against an old rival. Ledrede’s prosecutions, against Kyteler and other prominent Anglo-Irish colonists, constitute the second category. The trials of native Irishmen who fell victim to the sort of propaganda that justified the twelfth-century invasion and subsequent colonization of Ireland make up the third. Callan contends that Ireland’s trials resulted more from feuds than doctrinal deviance and reveal the range of relations between the English, the Irish, and the Anglo-Irish, and the church’s role in these relations; tensions within ecclesiastical hierarchy and between secular and spiritual authority; Ireland’s position within its broader European context; and political, cultural, ethnic, and gender concerns in the colony.