Religion and the decline of magic


Astrology, witchcraft, divination and ghosts were all taken seriously by Englishmen of the 16th and 17th centuries, and were an integral part of their attempt to understand their lives. Magic, argues Thomas, had its own practical utility.

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ISBN: 9780140137446 Author: Thomas, Keith Publisher: Penguin Publication Date: 1st January 1991 Imprint: Penguin Books Cover: Paperback Dewey: 133.094209031 (edition:21) Pages: 880 Language: English Readership: General - Trade / Code: K Category: Subjects: , , , , ,

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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