Western Illinois Historical Review, Vol. III, Spring (2011)
An increasing concern over the criminality of witchcraft and the persecution of accused witches marked the early modern period of European history between 1450 and 1750. Scholars, both past and present, have been intrigued about this period during which witchcraft was defined as a secular crime and convicted witches were executed. Early modern people were beset by concerns about political, religious, social, and economic disorder that stimulated their fears and anxieties to create a situation that I term a “climate of fear.” This article examines English demonologies authored by Reginald Scot, William Perkins, George Gifford, and Alexander Roberts during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries to identify both how a pervasive climate of fear helped shape early modern witchcraft beliefs and how demonological treatises contributed to the ongoing early modern dialogue about the connections between witchcraft and fear.