Jules Michelet is the archetypal Romantic historian. After the Histoire romaine, 2 vol. Such a resurrection must be integral: all the elements of the past—artistic, religious, economic, as well as political—must be brought back, intertwined, as they once were, in a living synthesis. Get exclusive access to content from our First Edition with your subscription. Subscribe today Toward the end of this period, which was marked by private crises reflected in his work the death of his first wife, in , and of his friend Mme Dumesnil, in , cast shadows over whole periods of his Histoire de France , Michelet turned away from Christianity and began to profess a messianic belief in democratic progress. A month later, the revolution that he had heralded in Le Peuple seemed to bring about the realization of his dreams.
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They boldly proclaimed the doctrine that "nothing is impure and nothing unclean. I have titled this text The Sorceress because that is a literal translation of the original French title.
The original title of this translation was Satanism and Witchcraft , and it was later retitled Witchcraft, Sorcery and Superstition. However there is no need to sensationalize this book; the material is already sensational enough.
And women are at the center of this book: peasant healers, aristocratic noblewomen, and nuns; we get an unparalleled look at the misery that medieval women faced, and some of the ways they rebelled. Michelet was one of the first to attempt a sociological explanation of the Witch trials. Like his successor Margaret Murray , he interprets the source material very literally.
As time went on, the cult became institutionalized, which led to tacit toleration in some quarters. Michelet uses a style popular in the 19th century, of interspersing fictional but representative incidents in with the exposition. A more academic style would quote pages and pages of heavily footnoted and very repetitive accounts.
By condensing these into an short story, Michelet makes the book infinitely more readable.
The Sorceress (La Sorcière)