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The Witch Craze in Britain, Europe and North America, 1500-1700

4. Salem

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About this Lecture


In this module, we explore the witch-trials that took place in Salem, Massachusetts, in the late 17th century, thinking in particular about why it was that the accusations of girls as young as eleven years old were taken so seriously, and with such severe consequences.


In this course, Robin Briggs (University of Oxford) explores the witch craze in Britain, Europe and North America, looking in particular at Germany, England, Salem and the Duchy of Lorraine. As we move through the course, we think about the nature of the witch craze, its causes and its impact, as well as the similarities and differences between each of the four regions.


Robin Briggs is Emeritus Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford. He is currently working on a book covering the history of North-Western Europe from c. 400 A.D. to 1914. Recent publications include a chapter on ‘The Rhine-Moselle Borderlands’ in The Oxford Handbook of Witchcraft (ed B. Levack), an article on ‘From Devilry to Sainthood: Mère Jeanne des Anges and the Catholic Reform’ in Women and Religion in the Atlantic Age, 1550-1900 (ed. M. Laven and E. Clark), and an article on ‘The Gallican Context for Pascal's Writings on Grace’ in Seventeenth Century French Studies. Other pieces in the press are contributions on social problems and policies in the later years of Louis XIV, and on emotions and witchcraft as they appear in Lorraine trial records. His current research interests are necessarily very wide, because he is writing a general book covering an immense span of European history. However he does also maintain a particular interest in seventeenth-century French history, with a more precise focus on the half-century of troubles from 1610-61. His next project is likely to be a book attempting to rethink aspects of this crucial period, where much recent work has added to our detailed knowledge, but there has been little in the way of changes to broader interpretations that now look dated and inadequate.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Briggs, R. (2018, August 15). The Witch Craze in Britain, Europe and North America, 1500-1700 - Salem [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Briggs, R. "The Witch Craze in Britain, Europe and North America, 1500-1700 – Salem." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,