In the courtrooms of seventeenth-century Russia, the nice majority of these accused of witchcraft have been male, in sharp distinction to the profile of accused witches throughout Catholic and Protestant Europe within the similar interval. whereas eu courts special and finished overwhelmingly woman suspects, usually on fees of compressing with the satan, the tsars' courts vigorously pursued males and a few girls accused of training extra down-to-earth magic, utilizing poetic spells and home-grown potions. rather than Satanism or heresy, the first problem in witchcraft testimony in Russia concerned efforts to take advantage of magic to subvert, mitigate, or avenge the cruel stipulations of patriarchy, serfdom, and social hierarchy.
Broadly comparative and richly illustrated with colour plates, Desperate Magic areas the rigors of witches within the context of early sleek Russian legislation, faith, and society. Piecing jointly facts from trial documents to light up a few of the crucial puzzles of Muscovite historical past, Kivelson explores the interaction one of the testimony of accusers, the top questions of the interrogators, and the confessions of the accused. Assembled, they bring an image of a shared ethical imaginative and prescient of the area that crossed social divides. a result of regimen use of torture in extracting and shaping confessions, Kivelson addresses methodological and ideological questions about the Muscovite courts’ equation of discomfort and fact, questions with carrying on with resonance on this planet this present day. inside an ethical economic system that paired unquestioned hierarchical inequities with expectancies of reciprocity, magic and suspicions of magic emerged the place these expectancies have been so much egregiously violated.
Witchcraft in Russia surfaces as one of many ways in which oppression used to be contested by way of traditional humans scrambling to outlive in a fiercely inequitable global. Masters and slaves, husbands and other halves, and officials and infantrymen alike believed there may be limits to exploitation and observed magic deployed on the junctures the place hierarchical order veered into violent excess.