In her introduction, Rosen explores the full range of practices and beliefs associated with witchcraft and situates these phenomena in historical context. She explains how ignorance of science and medicine combined with social circumstance and religious ideology to shape popular perceptions and superstitions. Distinguishing between English and Continental forms of witchcraft, she also examines the legal definitions, disciplines, and punishments applied to wizards, witches, wise women, and conjures in the Elizabethan age.
The pamphlets and other original texts have been modernized in certain respects to make them more accessible to general readers. But the book retains its value for scholars: omissions are detailed in the notes and additions marked; obsolete words and grammar are explained in the glossary.
Originally published in England in 1970 under the title Witchcraft, this book appears now for the first time in paperback and includes a new preface by the editor.
"An essential volume of Elizabethan texts for all libraries, for all literary and history students, and indeed for all curious readers."—Modern Language Review
"The superb introduction . . . [is] a statement which, besides other attributes, carefully establishes the distinction between witchcraft in England and on the Continent. Each pamphlet's text is preceded by explanatory editorial notes; and the book includes a selected bibliography, a very helpful simple glossary, and separate indexes to 'familiars,' persons, and places."—Library Journal