Under the Devil's Spell: Witches, Sorcerers, and the Inquisition in Renaissance Italy (review)
This is a useful, although ultimately curious, book. The early modern heartland of witchcraft and witch-hunting lay, of course, north of the Alps, and studies of northern Europe tend to dominate the historiography. Experts typically know that southern Europe presents something of a different magical world. While many general beliefs about magic and witchcraft held sway in the south as well as in the north, southern Europe offers notable variations: less outright witchcraft, for example, and more love magic. Institutionally, the highly bureaucratic Roman, Spanish, and Venetian Inquisitions all worked to restrict the sort of major witch hunts that were possible (although far from universal) in the north. Yet northern Europe, and particularly the German heartland of witch-hunting, is still too often presented as the early modern norm; other regions then assume the role of more or less interesting variants. All this is to say that a monograph focusing exclusively on magic [End Page 104] and witchcraft in Italy, and available in English (into which far too little Italian language scholarship has been translated), is very welcome indeed.
This is a book review from Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft 4 (2009): 104, doi:10.1353/mrw.0.0133. Posted with permission.