Europe's Inner Demons
Europe's Inner Demons: An Enquiry Inspired by the Great Witch-Hunt is a historical study of the beliefs regarding European witchcraft in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe, with particular reference to the development of the witches' sabbat and its influence on the witch trials in the Early Modern period. It was written by the English historian Norman Cohn, then of the University of Sussex, and first published by Sussex University Press in association with Heinemann Educational Books in 1975. It was released as a part of a series of academic books entitled 'Studies in the Dynamics of Persecution and Extermination' that were funded by the Columbus Centre and edited by Cohn himself.
Within the book, Cohn argues that there never were any Devil-worshipping witches in Early Modern Europe, and that all of those persecuted for being so were innocent. In this he specifically rejects the Witch-cult hypothesis put forward by English scholar Margaret Murray, which argued that there really had been a witch-cult religion which had been pre-Christian in origin. Cohn notes that accusations of worshiping a beast-headed deity, eating children and committing incest were not new to the witches of Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe, but had originally been leveled at Jews in the first century and then at Christians in the second, before being reused against Christian heretical sects like the Waldensians and the Knights Templar during the Late Medieval.
Europe's Inner Demons has come to be recognised as one of the most influential historical studies of European witchcraft beliefs. It has come under criticism for its rejection of Margaret Murray's hypothesis by proponents of that theory within the Contemporary Pagan movement.
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