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Witchcraze: New History of the European Witch Hunts, a (Anglais) Broché – 24 juin 1995


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"In the sixteenth century, a rise in sexual violence in European society was exacerbated by pressure from church and state to change basic sexual customs...As the centuries since have shown escalating levels both of violence, general and sexual, and of state control, the witchcraze can be considered a portent, even a model, of some aspects of what modern Europe would be like."

Over three centuries, approximately one hundred thousand persons, most of whom were women, were put to death under the guise of "witch hunts", particularly in Reformation Europe. The shocking annihilation of women from all walks of life is explored in this brilliant, authoritative feminist history Anne Llwellyn Barstow. Barstow exposes an unrecognized holocaust -- the "ethnic cleansing" of independent women in Reformation Europe -- and examines the residual attitudes that continue to influence our culture.

Barstow argues that it is only with eyes sensitive to gender issues that we can discern what really happened in the persecution and murder of these women. Her sweeping chronicle examines the scapegoating of women from the ills of society, investigates how their subjugation to sexual violence and death sent a message of control to all women, and compares this persecution of women with the enslavement and slaughter of African slaves and Native Americans.

Ultimately Barstow traces the current backlash against women to its gynophobic torture-filled origins. In the process, she leaves an indelible mark on our growing understanding of the legacy of violence against women around the world.

Biographie de l'auteur

Anne L. Barstow is professor of history, retired, at the State University of New York City at Old Westbury. She is the author of Joan of Arc: Heretic, Mystic, Shaman, and Married Priests and the Reforming Papacy, as well as many articles.



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JOAN PETERSEN, a healer, "was searched again in a most unnatural and barbarous manner by four women" supplied by her accusers, who found "a teat of flesh in her secret parts more than other women usually had" After bribed witnesses testified against her, she was executed. Lire la première page
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Couverture | Copyright | Table des matières | Extrait | Index | Quatrième de couverture
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6 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Thought provoking to say the least 24 août 2007
Par E. Barrios - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
Let me begin by stating I am no authority on the history of witch burnings. However, I do find the subject fascinating and wish I had more time to devote in the reasearch of this subject.

I've read some of the reviews here and will say it's difficult for me to come to the conclusion if Barstow's book is nothing more than a feminist slant on a macabre period in European history. Her book, in my opinion, did tend to focus only on women who were accused of witchcraft. I can't say if this is right or wrong. I only have the unscientific knowledge of these events from Hollywood movies stored in my memory.

All I can say is I found the book's description of the women who were burned at the stake horrible and cruel. It just goes to show you man has changed very little and makes me more of a believer that "might makes right" which is why these atrocities have stopped.

Go ahead and read the book and judge for yourselves. I found it, at the minimum, to be a good primer on the subject.
8 internautes sur 9 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Repetitive, repetitive 19 mai 2008
Par Frenchbluehen - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
I, as did others, have a non-academic interest in the witch hunts, and although I have no opinion on whether or not her data is valid, I found that she repeated the same points and examples throughout all the chapters. I couldn't even finish the book because I had felt that I probably read all the new information and that there wasn't much new to add.

Fortunatly, I picked up the book cheaply and didn't have to use it for a class. I think that the idea was appealing, but the execution of the work fell very short.
61 internautes sur 82 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Horrible Stereotyping 19 mars 1997
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
"Witchcraze" has been justly ignored by the academic community. It's a testament to the human mind's ability to ignore data. Most of Barstow's information is reasonably accurate (though her listing of the death tolls in various countries is severely flawed -- some areas are omitted, others counted twice, and several of the numbers are inaccurate). Unfortunately, Barstow doesn't USE her data! Her theory is that Witch-hunting was caused by misogyny. Her own data shows that a country's level of misogyny bears no correlation to the intensity of its Witch-hunting. Misogyny won't explain where or when Witch-hunting occurred, but Barstow ignores this. She also ignores any evidence that doesn't support her theories. Example: she claims that Iceland didn't persecute Witches. In fact, Iceland killed more Witches than Russia and Ireland, two countries that Barstow does discuss. The difference is, in Iceland 95% of the victims were men. Since Barstow thinks that Witch hunting was women-hunting, she carefully deletes Iceland from the picture.

The worst aspect of this book, though, is that it is chock-full of blatant ethnic and sexual stereotyping. Spain didn't kill many Witches because Spaniards are too chivalrous to do that. Doctors accused wise-women of Witchcraft because male and female healers are "natural enemies". (Barstow quickly glosses over the fact that wise-women did this too -- she certainly doesn't suggest that women were each other's "natural enemies"!) I strongly recommend people to avoid this book. Some of the information is accurate, but you can get better info -- without the stereotyping.
22 internautes sur 30 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Useful overview that gets to the heart of it 10 décembre 2003
Par JulySchein - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
I've read the other reviews which consistantly deny Barstow's premise: that the Witch Craze was the women's holocaust. Just read the book: and any other that attempts to break down by gender the numbers of those tortured and killed. Why gender? Because it is the single most glaring pattern in the witch persecutions!

The Maleficius (handbook for persecuting witches) does not implicate male sexuality as a reason for torturing them, as it consistantly implicates women's sexuality. It does not mention how to 'recognize' male witches, but it begins from the premise that women 'live by the moon and so are able to draw the hearts of men toward the pagans,' and thus, witches are women because only they were 'weak' enough to fall prey to the devil. Interesting, isn't it, how the artists and writers of the period always portray witches as women, from Shakespeare to Holbein? Don't blame Anne Barstow, just look for the overwhelming pattern, as she has done.

That said, there are a few weaknesses in the book. One, although she tries to nail the number of those killed, she still comes up short. Anecdotally, I visited the town of Osnabruck, Germany, this summer and discovered their numbers of murders of women were around 400, give or take, from two eras of persecution in the 16th and 17th Centuries. I returned home to check Witch Craze, and Osnabruck never made it into the index. It's numbers of dead are not included, though it is common knowledge to anyone who visits the tourist center. Huh? What else was left out?

Nor does Barstow adequately plumb the numbers who were tortured and maimed and then released, or those who died in custody. She does not draw a line from the witch persecutions to the rise of the legal profession. We know that women were targeted for political and sexist reasons, but Barstow does not go into detail about who the male witches were: were they shamans, convenient scapegoats for natural disasters, homosexuals, or political enemies of the nobility? Don't know.

I await a book which discusses the intersection of European pagan life and the witch craze. I believe that while Europe's women may not have been sorcerers, they, and small town folk in general, certainly were among the last people of the continent who maintained the pagan folk traditions of pre-Christian Europe. Traditionally, throughout native cultures, men are first to shed their traditional ways, usually for pragmatic economic reasons, while rural women carry the rituals on: though food preparation, childcare and healthcare methods, costuming, commemorating holidays, and so on. Is there some corollary there between native European culture as practiced by householders and the witch craze? Not mentioned, and doesn't have to be. But to my mind, it is an incomplete work that doesn't mention the collision of historical folk culture with the dominant christian culture and how it effected or affected the persecution of women.

Yet Witch Craze is an important book to read and own. Barstow's single most important contribution, I believe, is to paint a picture of how women and men would have reacted to 500 years of mostly female persecution--the resulting fragmentation of society, the housewifeization of women, the entrenchment of ageism, and the suspicion and fear of self-directed mysticism and spirituality--these are the legacies of the Witch Craze that imprint us all still.
30 internautes sur 42 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
More Revisionism. 9 novembre 1999
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
Most historians have soundly rejected Barstow's theories and methods (in fact, I know a professor who uses one of her books as an example of poor scholarship). Like so many authors today, she simply ignores any evidence which might contradict her viewpoint while "creatively" interpreting the rest.
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