In early modern Europe, ideas about nature, God, demons and occult forces were inextricably connected and much ink and blood was spilled in arguments over the characteristics and boundaries of nature and the supernatural. Seitz uses records of Inquisition witchcraft trials in Venice to uncover how individuals across society, from servants to aristocrats, understood these two fundamental categories. Others have examined this issue from the points of view of religious history, the history of science and medicine, or the history of witchcraft alone, but this work brings these sub-fields together to illuminate comprehensively the complex forces shaping early modern beliefs.
Jonathan Seitz received his Ph.D. from the Department of the History of Science at the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 2006. He is an Assistant Teaching Professor at Drexel University, where he has lectured since 2006. Seitz's awards include an American Historical Association Schmitt Grant, a Foreign Language and Area Studies fellowship, and a John Neu Wisconsin Distinguished Graduate Fellowship. He researched this book in the libraries and archives of Venice and of the Vatican, supported by a Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation fellowship and a National Science Foundation Dissertation Research fellowship. He has been published in Renaissance Quarterly, Isis, Gender and History, The Sixteenth Century Journal and at H-net.org (H-ITALY).
Introduction; 1. Witchcraft and the inquisition in the most serene republic; 2. Blackened fingernails and bones in the bedclothes; 3. Appeals to experts; 4. 'Spiritual remedies' for possession and witchcraft; 5. The exorcist's library; 6. 'Not my profession': physicians' naturalism; 7. Physicians as believers; 8. The inquisitor's library; 9. 'Nothing proven': the practical difficulties of witchcraft prosecution; Conclusion.