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Desperate Magic – The Moral Economy of Witchcraft in Seventeenth-Century Russia - Cornell Scholarship Online
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Desperate Magic: The Moral Economy of Witchcraft in Seventeenth-Century Russia

Valerie Kivelson


In the courtrooms of seventeenth-century Russia, the great majority of those accused of witchcraft were male, in sharp contrast to the profile of accused witches across Catholic and Protestant Europe in the same period. While European courts targeted and executed overwhelmingly female suspects, often on charges of compacting with the devil, the tsars’ courts vigorously pursued men and some women accused of practicing more down-to-earth magic, using poetic spells and home-grown potions. Instead of Satanism or heresy, the primary concern in witchcraft testimony in Russia involved efforts to use ... More

Keywords: seventeenth-century Russia, witchcraft, magic, witchcraft testimony, patriarchy, serfdom, social hierarchy, witch trials, torture, Muscovite courts

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2013 Print ISBN-13: 9780801451461
Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016 DOI:10.7591/cornell/9780801451461.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Valerie Kivelson, author
Professor of History, the University of Michigan