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History   >   Witchcraft and Witch-Trials, 1470-1700

What is Witchcraft?

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Witchcraft and Witch-Trials, 1470-1700

In this course, Dr Francis Young (University of Oxford) explores witchcraft in the British Isles. In the first module, we look at what witchcraft actually is. In the second module, we turn to look at witch-hunting and the trial of witches, asking how and why witchcraft became a matter of judicial concern. In the third module, we focus specifically on the Matthew Hopkins witch-hunt of 1645-47, before in the fourth module looking at the decline of the witch-trials and the reasons behind this. In the fifth and final module, we look at the decriminalisation of witchcraft and what this meant for the survival of those who self-identify as witches.

What is Witchcraft?

In this lecture, we attempt to establish an understanding of what witchcraft itself is, focusing in particular on: (i) the historiographical background to studies of witchcraft; (ii) the difficulties faced when attempting to define witchcraft, looking at three case studies to highlight the differing perspectives with regards to witchcraft; (iii) positive, contemporary evaluations of witchcraft; and (iv) the functionalist and feminist approaches to studying witchcraft and their problems.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Young, F. (2023, February 17). Witchcraft and Witch-Trials, 1470-1700 - What is Witchcraft? [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Young, F. "Witchcraft and Witch-Trials, 1470-1700 – What is Witchcraft?." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 17 Feb 2023,

Image Credits


lecturer placeholder image

Dr Francis Young

University of Oxford