Based on research in the Inquisitorial archives, the book recounts the story of a peasant fertility cult centred on the benandanti. These men and women regarded themselves as professional anti-witches, who in dream-like states apparently fought ritual battles against witches and wizards, to protect their villages and harvests. If they won, the harvest would be good, if they lost, there would be famine. Carlo Ginzburg shows clearly how this transformation of the popular notion of witchcraft was manipulated by the Inquisitors, and disseminated all over Europe and even to the New World.
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A remarkable tale of witchcraft, folk culture, and persuasion in early modern Europe. Based on research in the Inquisitorial archives of Northern Italy, The Night Battles recounts the story of a peasant fertility cult centered on the benandanti , literally, "good walkers.
While their bodies slept, the souls of the benandanti were able to fly into the night sky to engage in epic spiritual combat for the good of the village. Carlo Ginzburg looks at how the Inquisition's officers interpreted these tales to support their world view that the peasants were in fact practicing sorcery. The result of this cultural clash, which lasted for more than a century, was the slow metamorphosis of the benandanti into the Inquisition's mortal enemies—witches.
Relying upon this exceptionally well-documented case study, Ginzburg argues that a similar transformation of attitudes—perceiving folk beliefs as diabolical witchcraft—took place all over Europe and spread to the New World. In his new preface, Ginzburg reflects on the interplay of chance and discovery, as well as on the relationship between anomalous cases and historical generalizations. Subscribe Now. Table of Contents. The Night Battles. Carlo Ginzburg with a new preface translated by John and Anne C.
Paperback E-book. Publication Date: 15 Oct Status: Available. Usually ships business days after receipt of order. Trim Size: 6. Subject: European History.
The Night Battles
Based on research in the Inquisitorial archives, the book recounts the story of a peasant fertility cult centred on the benandanti. These men and women regarded themselves as professional anti-witches, who in dream-like states apparently fought ritual battles against witches and wizards, to protect their villages and harvests. If they won, the harvest would be good, if t. If they won, the harvest would be good, if they lost, there would be famine. Carlo Ginzburg shows clearly how this transformation of the popular notion of witchcraft was manipulated by the Inquisitors, and disseminated all over Europe and even to the New World.
The Night Battles: Witchcraft and Agrarian Cults in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries
Carlo Ginzburg, who is also know for The Cheese and the Worms, published this cultural, micro-history that investigates the exciting world of Italian commoners bonding together to fight the forces of evil and protect the harvest in Since then the book has gone through multiple translations and editions. The study focuses on a small northern Italian town, Friuli, and radiates out to vaguely include continental Europe in the sixteenth and early seventeenth century. The monograph, which is weaved together to create a thrilling story, probably would not have been considered valid until cultural history had secured its position as legitimate and useful in the academy. His thesis, which is woven into the entire monograph, but only really apparent at the end of the book, is that the Benandanti, once popular and tolerated magic doers, slowly became shunned by the community, and striped of their privileges in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, until they became lumped together with general witches, and therefore destined to be prosecuted tortured and burned at the stake. The story begins in Friuli, Italy, in A Catholic inquisitor is questioning a man suspected of performing magic, and therefore evil.
Ginzburg, Night Battles
It was written by the Italian historian Carlo Ginzburg , then of the University of Bologna , and first published by the company Giulio Einaudi in under the Italian title of I Benandanti: Stregoneria e culti agrari tra Cinquecento e Seicento. It was later translated into English by John and Anne Tedeschi and published by Routledge and Kegan Paul in with a new foreword written by the historian Eric Hobsbawm. In The Night Battles , Ginzburg examines the trial accounts of those benandante who were interrogated and tried by the Roman Inquisition , using such accounts to elicit evidence for the beliefs and practices of the benandanti. These revolved around their nocturnal visionary journeys, during which they believed that their spirits traveled out of their bodies and into the countryside, where they would do battle with malevolent witches who threatened the local crops. Ginzburg goes on to examine how the Inquisition came to believe the benandanti to be witches themselves, and ultimately persecute them out of existence. Considering the benandanti to be "a fertility cult", Ginzburg draws parallels with similar visionary traditions found throughout the Alps and also from the Baltic, such as that of the Livonian werewolf , and also to the widespread folklore surrounding the Wild Hunt.