Religion and the Decline of Magic: Studies in Popular Beliefs in Sixteenth and Seventeenth-Century England

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Penguin UK, Jan 30, 2003 - History - 880 pages
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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.
 

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User Review  - neilgodfrey - LibraryThing

"The real question at issue here is what enables us to read a source ‘against the grain’, and here theory does indeed come in. Theory of whatever kind, whether it is a general set of theses about how ... Read full review

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User Review  - Widsith - LibraryThing

Now my Charmes are all ore-throwne, And what strength I haue's mine owne. Which is most faint… —William Shakespeare, The Tempest You might think from the title of Religion and the Decline of Magic ... Read full review

Contents

Astrology and Religion
THE APPEAL TO THE PAST 13 Ancient Prophecies
the Crime and its History
Witchcraft and Religion
The Making of a Witch
Witchcraft and its Social Environment
Decline
ALLIED BELIEFS 19 Ghosts and Fairies

Religion and the People MAGIC
Magical Healing
Cunning Men and Popular Magic
Magic and Religion
its Practice and Extent
its Social and Intellectual Role
Times and Omens
Some Interconnections
The Decline of Magic
Index
Copyright

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About the author (2003)

Keith Thomas is a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. He was formerly President of Corpus Christi College and, before that, Professor of Modern History and Fellow of St John's College. RELIGION AND DECLINE OF MAGIC, his first book, won one of the two Wolfson Literary Awards for History in 1972. He was knighted in 1988 for services to the study of history.

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