By Valerie Kivelson
In the courtrooms of seventeenth-century Russia, the nice majority of these accused of witchcraft have been male, in sharp distinction to the profile of accused witches throughout Catholic and Protestant Europe within the similar interval. whereas eu courts designated and finished overwhelmingly girl suspects, frequently on fees of compressing with the satan, the tsars' courts vigorously pursued males and a few girls accused of training extra down-to-earth magic, utilizing poetic spells and home-grown potions. rather than Satanism or heresy, the first situation in witchcraft testimony in Russia concerned efforts to exploit magic to subvert, mitigate, or avenge the tough stipulations of patriarchy, serfdom, and social hierarchy.
Broadly comparative and richly illustrated with colour plates, Desperate Magic areas the rigors of witches within the context of early smooth Russian legislation, faith, and society. Piecing jointly facts from trial files to light up a number of the valuable puzzles of Muscovite heritage, Kivelson explores the interaction one of the testimony of accusers, the top questions of the interrogators, and the confessions of the accused. Assembled, they convey an image of a shared ethical imaginative and prescient of the realm that crossed social divides. as a result of regimen use of torture in extracting and shaping confessions, Kivelson addresses methodological and ideological questions about the Muscovite courts’ equation of ache and fact, questions with carrying on with resonance on this planet this present day. inside an ethical economic climate that paired unquestioned hierarchical inequities with expectancies of reciprocity, magic and suspicions of magic emerged the place these expectancies have been such a lot egregiously violated.
Witchcraft in Russia surfaces as one of many ways in which oppression was once contested by means of traditional humans scrambling to outlive in a fiercely inequitable global. Masters and slaves, husbands and better halves, and officials and squaddies alike believed there could be limits to exploitation and observed magic deployed on the junctures the place hierarchical order veered into violent excess.
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Extra resources for Desperate Magic: The Moral Economy of Witchcraft in Seventeenth-Century Russia
Desperate Magic: The Moral Economy of Witchcraft in Seventeenth-Century Russia by Valerie Kivelson