Religion and the Decline of Magic
STUDIES IN POPULAR BELIEFS IN SIXTEENTH AND SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY ENGLAND
Witchcraft, astrology, divination and every kind of popular magic flourished in England during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, from the belief that a blessed amulet could prevent the assaults of the Devil to the use of the same charms to recover stolen goods. At the same time the Protestant Reformation attempted to take the magic out of religion, and scientists were developing new explanations of the universe. Keith Thomas's classic analysis of beliefs held on every level of English society begins with the collapse of the medieval Church and ends with the changing intellectual atmosphere around 1700, when science and rationalism began to challenge the older systems of belief.
‘Fascinating … One of the most original and thought-provoking books on English sixteenth- and seventeenth-century history’
‘Outstanding … a commanding work’
‘Brilliant, thoughtful and fascinating … echoes with the survival of beliefs in magic’
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