With research sourced by the world’s greatest libraries, Robbins has compiled a rational, balanced history of 300 years of horror concentrated primarily in Western Europe. Spanning from the 15th century through the 18th century, the witch-hunt frenzy marks a period of suppressed rational thought; never before have so many been so wrong. To better understand this phenomenon, Robbins examines how the meaning of “witch” has evolved and exposes the true nature of witchcraft—a topic widely discussed in popular culture, though remarkably misunderstood.
First published in 1959, Robbins’ encyclopedia remains the most authoritative and comprehensive body of information about witchcraft and demonology ever compiled in a single volume. Lavishly acclaimed in academic and popular reviews, this full-scale compendium of fact, history, and legend covers about every phase of this fascinating subject from its origins in the medieval times to its last eruptions in the 18th century. Accompanying the text are 250 illustrations from rare books, contemporary prints, and old manuscripts, many of which have been published here for the first time.
Rossell Hope Robbins (1912-1990), an acknowledged authority on witchcraft, was one of the half-dozen Americans ever elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He authored over a dozen books and nearly 200 articles, including the definitive introduction to the catalogue of the Witchcraft Collection at Cornell University Library in 1979. He was a Commonwealth Fellow, Canada Council Professor, and he received grants from the Modern Language Association of America and from the American Council of Learned Societies. He also served as Chairman of the Middle English Division of the MLA, President of the Medieval Club of New York, research associate at Harvard and Columbia Universities. Robbins has lectured extensively on medieval topics and witchcraft at universities throughout the world.