A History of Science, Magic and Belief is an exploration of the origins of modern society through the culture of the middle ages and early modern period. By examining the intertwined paths of three different systems for interpreting the world, it seeks to create a narrative which culminates in the birth of modernity. It looks at the tensions and boundaries between science and magic throughout the middle ages and how they were affected by elite efforts to rationalise society, often through religion. The witch-crazes of the sixteenth and seventeenth century are seen as a pivotal point, and the emergence from these into social peace is deemed possible due to the Scientific Revolution and the politics of the early modern state.
This book is unique in drawing together the histories of science, magic and religion. It is thus an ideal book for those studying any or all of these topics, and with its broad time frame, it is also suitable for students of the history of Europe or Western civilisation in general.
Steven P. Marrone is Professor of History at Tufts University, USA.
Introduction.- 1. Superstition, Science and Magic, 200 BCE-1200 CE.- 2. Popular Belief and the Rationalization of Religion, 700-1300.- 3. Science, Magic and the Demonic, 1200-1400: The Catalyst.- 4. Science, Magic and the Demonic, 1200-1400: The Reaction.- 5. The Witchcraze and the Crisis of Early Modern Europe, 1400-1650.- 6. Desacralized Science and Social Control, 1500-1700.- Conclusion.- Notes.- Index.