The Civil War, the Restoration, and the Glorious Revolution in England laid the institutional and intellectual foundations of the modern understanding of liberty, of which we are heirs and beneficiaries. The Crisis of the Seventeenth Century uncovers new pathways to understanding this seminal time. Neither Catholic r Protestant emerges unscathed from the examination to which Trevor-Roper subjects the era in which, from political and religious causes, the identification and extirpation of witches was a central event. Trevor-Roper points out that In England the most active phase of witch-hunting coincided with times of Puritan pressure -- the reign of Queen Elizabeth and the period of the civil wars -- and some very fanciful theories have been built on this coincidence. But...the persecution of witches in England was trivial compared with the experience of the Continent and of Scotland. Therefore...[one must examine] the craze as a whole, throughout Europe, and [seek] to relate its rise, frequency, and decline to the general intellectual and social movements of the time... .
Hugh Trevor-Roper, Lord Dacre, is retired Regius Professor of Modern History at the University of Oxford.