The Salem witch trials loom large in American history and in our national imagination. But the events of 1692-3 were not uniquely American phenomena; instead, they were part of a much longer history of witch hunting in Europe that spanned nearly 300 years, involving approximately 100,000 formal accusations and 50,000 executions in places ranging from Scotland to Russia. Michelle D. Brock takes us through an overview of this fascinating and complex “Age of the Witch Hunts,” and asks what insights we gain when we consider the events in Salem as a critical yet distinctive part of this fundamentally European story.
Michelle D. Brock is associate professor of History at Washington and Lee University in Virginia. She is the author of Satan and the Scots: The Devil in Post-Reformation Scotland (2016) and co-editor of Knowing Demons, Knowing Spirits in the Early Modern Period (2018) and the forthcoming Routledge History of the Devil in the Western Tradition. She is also co-director of Mapping the Scottish Reformation, a digital resource for exploring the lives of the Scottish Clergy. You can learn more about Professor Brock and her work—including op-eds and podcasts for a popular audience—here: https://www.mdbrock.com/