Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Religious Crimes


Early modern Europe was intensely religious. This week we will be discussing the religious crimes of heresy and witchcraft. We will divide into groups looking at Eastern Europe, England, France, the German States, the Italian States, Scandinavia and Scotland, and Spain.

Seminar Questions

  • What forms did the crimes of heresy and witchcraft take in early modern Europe?
  • What what were contemporary attitudes and responses towards these crimes? How did these vary across Europe and over time?

Required Reading

  • You should each read the relevant documents for the state(s) you are studying which are published in Brian P. Levack, ed., The Witchcraft SourcebookLink opens in a new window, 2nd ed., (London, 2014). These documents are as follows:
    • Eastern Europe: documents 42 and 44.
    • England: documents 19, 21, 31, 35, 45, 47, 48, 50, 51, 55, 63, 65, 67.
    • France: documents 16, 17, 22, 28, 33, 38, 56, 59.
    • The German States: documents 26, 30, 34, 36, 37, 40, 41, 54.
    • The Italian States: document 20.
    • Scandinavia and Scotland: documents 24, 29, 32, 35, 43, 46, 49, 52, 61.
    • Spain: document 64.
  • You should each also choose and read two articles or chapters relevant to the state(s) you are studying. For these items, see below.

Ankarloo, Benkt, and Gustav Henningsen, eds, Early Modern European Witchcraft: Centres and Peripheries (Oxford, 1990)

Apps, Lara and Andrew Gow, Male Witches in Early Modern Europe (Manchester, 2003)

Briggs, Robin, Witches and Neighbours: The Social and Cultural Context of European Witchcraft (London, 1996)

Broedel, Hans Peter, The Malleus Maleficarum and the Construction of Witchcraft (Manchester, 2003)

Clark, Stuart, Thinking with Demons: The Idea of Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe (Oxford, 1997)

Henningsen, Gustav, and John Tedeschi, eds, The Inquisition in Early Modern Europe (Dekalb, Ill., 1986)

Kallestrup, Louise Nyholm, and Raisa Maria Toivo, eds., Contesting Orthodoxy in Medieval and Early Modern Europe: Heresy, Magic and Witchcraft (London, 2017)

Kors, Alan C., and Edward Peters, eds, Witchcraft in Europe, 400-1700: A Documentary History (Philadelphia, 1972; 2001)

Kounine, Laura, and Michael Ostling, eds, Emotions in the History of Witchcraft (London, 2016)

Kramer, Heinrich, and Jacob Sprenger, The Hammer of Witches: A Complete translation of the Malleus maleficarum, trans. Christopher S. Mackay (Cambridge, 2009)

Levack, Brian P., ed., New Perspectives on Witchcraft, Magic and Demonology, 6 vols (New York and London, 2001)

Levack, Brian P., ed., The Oxford Handbook of Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe and Colonial America (Oxford, 2013)

Levack, Brian P., The Witchhunt in Early Modern Europe (2nd edn, London, 1995)

Nenonen, Marko, and Raisa Maria Toivo, eds, Writing Witch-hunt Histories: Challenging the Paradigm (Leiden, 2013)

Oldridge, Darren, ed., The Witchcraft Reader, 2nd ed. (London, 2008)

Roper, Lyndal, Oedipus and the Devil: Witchcraft, Sexuality and Religion in Early Modern Europe (London, 1994)

Rowlands, Alison, ed., Witchcraft and Masculinities in Early Modern Europe (Basingstoke, 2009)

Eastern Europe

Kivelson, Valerie, Desperate Magic: The Moral Economy of Witchcraft in Seventeenth-Century Russia (Ithaca, NY, 2013)

Klaniczay, Gábor, and Éva Pócs, eds., Witchcraft and Demonology in Hungary and Transylvania (London, 2017)

Kollmann, Nancy Shields, Crime and Punishment in Early Modern Russia (Cambridge, 2015), Chapter Fifteen.

Ryan, W.F., ‘The Witchcraft Hysteria in Early Modern Europe: was Russia an Exception?’, Slavonic and East European Review 76 (1998), 49-84.


Darr, Orna Alyagon, Marks of an Absolute Witch: Evidentiary Dilemmas in Early Modern England (Farnham, 2011)

Elmer, Peter, Witchcraft, Witch-hunting, and Politics in Early Modern England (Oxford, 2016)

Gaskill, Malcolm, Witchfinders: A Seventeenth-century English Tragedy (London, 2005)

Gertz, Genelle, Heresy Trials and English Women Writers, 1400–1670 (Cambridge, 2012)

L'Estrange Ewen, C., Witch Hunting and Witch Trials: The Indictments for Witchcraft from the Records of the 1373 Assizes Held from the Home Court 1559-1736 ADLink opens in a new window (1929; rept. London, 1971)

Millar, Charlotte-Rose, Witchcraft, the Devil, and Emotions in Early Modern England (London, 2017)

Sharpe, James, Witchcraft in Early Modern England (Harlow, 2001)

Sharpe, James, Instruments of Darkness: Witchcraft in England 1550-1750 (London, 1997)

Thomas, Keith, Religion and the Decline of Magic (Harmondsworth, 1973)


Briggs, Robin, The Witches of Lorraine (Oxford, 2007)

Krause, Virginia, Witchcraft, Demonology, and Confession in Early Modern France (Cambridge, 2015)

Monter, William, Judging the French Reformation: Heresy Trials by Sixteenth-century Parlements (Cambridge, MA, 1999)

Monter, William, Witchcraft in France and Switzerland (Ithaca and London, 1976)

The German States

Dillinger, Johannes, "Evil people": A Comparative Study of Witch Hunts in Swabian Austria and the Electorate of Trier, trans. Laura Stokes (Charlottesville, VA, 2009)

Durrant, Jonathan B., Witchcraft, Gender, and Society in Early Modern Germany (Leiden, 2007)

Kounine, Laura, Imagining the Witch: Emotions, Gender, and Selfhood in Early Modern Germany (Oxford, 2018)

Roper, Lyndal, Witch Craze: Terror and Fantasy in Baroque Germany (New Haven, 2004)

Rowlands, Alison, Witchcraft Narratives in Germany: Rothenburg 1561-1652 (Manchester, 2003)

Spee von Langenfeld, Friedrich, Cautio criminalis, or, A Book on Witch Trials, trans. Marcus Hellyer (Charlottesville, VA, 2003)

Walinski-Kiehl, Robert, ‘The Devil’s Children: Child Witch-Trials in Early Modern Germany’, Continuity and Change, 11 (1996), 171-89.

Walinski-Kiehl, Robert, Males, '“Masculine Honor,” and Witch Hunting in Seventeenth-Century Germany', Men and Masculinities 6/3 (2004), 254–271.

The Italian States

Black, Christopher F., The Italian Inquisition (New Haven, 2009)

Cohen, Thomas V., and Elizabeth S. Cohen, Words and Deeds in Renaissance Rome: Trials Before the Papal Magistrates (Toronto, 1993), Chapters Six and Seven.

Delph, Ronald K., Michelle M. Fontaine and John Jeffries Martin, eds, Heresy, Culture, and Religion in Early Modern Italy (Kirksville, MO, 2006)

Ginzburg, Carlo, The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller (London, 1982)

Kallestrup, Louise Nyholm, Agents of Witchcraft in Early Modern Italy and Denmark (London, 2015)

Martin, John Jeffries, Venice's Hidden Enemies: Italian Heretics in a Renaissance City (Baltimore, 2004)

Mayer, Thomas F., The Roman Inquisition: A Papal Bureaucracy and Its Laws in the Age of Galileo (Philadelphia, 2013)

Scandella, Domenico, Domenico Scandella known as Menocchio: His Trials before the Inquisition (1583-1599), ed. Andrea Del Col, trans John and Anne C. Tedeschi (Tempe, AZ, 1997)

Seitz, Jonathan, Witchcraft and Inquisition in Early Modern Venice (Cambridge, 2011)

Scandinavia and Scotland

Goodare, Julian, ed., Scottish Witches and Witch-hunters (Basingstoke, 2013)

Goodare, Julian, et al., eds, Witchcraft and Belief in Early Modern Scotland (Basingstoke, 2007)

Henderson, Lizanne, Witchcraft and Folk Belief in the Age of Enlightenment: Scotland 1670-1740 (Basingstoke, 2016)

Levack, Brian P., Witch-hunting in Scotland: Law, Politics, and Religion (London, 2008)

Kallestrup, Louise Nyholm, Agents of Witchcraft in Early Modern Italy and Denmark (London, 2015)

Willumsen, Liv Helene, Witches of the North: Scotland and Finnmark (Leiden, 2013)


Kamen, Henry, The Spanish Inquisition: A Historical Revision, 4th ed. (New Haven, 2014)

Monter, William, Frontiers of Heresy: The Spanish Inquisition from the Basque Lands to Sicily (Cambridge, 1990)

Rawlings, Helen, The Spanish Inquisition (Oxford, 2006)

Schlau, Stacey, Gendered Crime and Punishment: Women and/in the Hispanic Inquisitions (Leiden, 2013)

Homza, Lu Ann, ed. and trans., The Spanish Inquisition, 1478-1614: An Anthology of Sources (Indianapolis, 2006)

Tausiet, María, Urban Magic in Early Modern Spain: abracadabra omnipotens (London, 2014)

Further Reading

Larner, Christina, The Enemies of God: the Witchhunt in Scotland (London, 1981)

Sneddon, Andrew, Witchcraft and Magic in Ireland (London, 2015)

Electronic Resources

The Survey of Scottish Witchcraft 1563-1736Link opens in a new window