September 1, 2020
3 tables, 22 figures
9.21 Inches (US)
6.26 Inches (US)
1.16 Pounds (US)
$79.00 USD, £54.00 GBP
v2.1 Reference

Ukrainian Witchcraft Trials

Volhynia, Podolia, and Ruthenia, 17th–18th Centuries

Ukrainian Witchcraft Trials is an analysis of early modern witchcraft trials and legal procedures in Ukrainian lands, along with an examination of quantitative data drawn from the different trials. Kateryna Dysa first describes the ideological background of the tribunals based on works written by priests and theologians that reflect attitudes towards the devil and witches. The main focus of her work, however, is the process leading to witchcraft accusations. From the stories of participants of the trials she shows what led people to enunciate first suspicions then accusations of witchcraft. Finally, she presents a microhistory from one Volhynian village, comparing attitudes towards two "female crimes" in the Ukrainian courts.

The study is based on archival research together with previously published witch trials transcripts. Dysa approaches the trials as indications of belief and practice, attempting to understand the actors involved rather than dismiss or condemn them. She takes care to situate Ukrainian witchcraft and its accompanying trials in a broader European context, with comparisons to some African cases as well.

About the Author

Kateryna Dysa is an Associate Professor of History at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Kyiv.


"Dysa's book is a well-constructed and very inspirational elaboration on the Ukrainian witch trials. The number of discovered and examined sources is impressive (almost 120 as yet unpublished and mostly unknown manuscripts, not to mention the published sources), as are her close examinations of the discussed trials. Given that the Ukrainian Witchcraft Trials is the first vast elaboration of the issue published in English, it will certainly serve for a long time as the main reference to witch trials in the Orthodox world."—Łukasz Hajdrych, Acta Poloniae Historica

"Some areas of the Slav world get little attention in English-language witchcraft studies, although publications in Slav languages have increased in quantity and quality since the end of the Communist regimes. We are fortunate then that two new books were published in 2020 which are valuable additions to the existing literature, at least for Russia and Ukraine, and especially for those who have no competence in Slavic languages. Kateryna Dysa's thoughtful and detailed, narrowly focused book deals with witchcraft trials in the western part of Ukraine in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries."—W.F. Ryan, Slavonic and East European Review

"Dysa has produced an important book that deserves to receive wider attention than it has to date. She not only expands our understanding of witchcraft and witch beliefs, she also paints a complex and nuanced picture of Ukrainian life in the seventeenth- and eighteenth centuries. And she does this mostly using archived court cases. This is a tour-de-force that offers a fascinating picture of a neglected part of the world."
https://journals.openedition.org/monderusse/12737—Natalie Kononenko, Cahiers du monde russe

"Dysa persuasively argues that witchcraft prosecution was comparatively mild in the Ruthenian lands. In fact, magistrates were reluctant to prosecute witchcraft. When they discovered instances of witchcraft, they preferred lenient sentences of fines and flogging, warning individuals of heavier sentences should they become recidivists. A mere seven of the trials involved torture. Executions were even rarer. So ubiquitous was the practice of magic, Dysa concludes that in these reputation cases, some of the accused might actually have indulged in it without losing their relatives' and neighbors' trust."—Christine D. Worobec, The Russian Review

"Kateryna Dysa has produced a richly detailed, carefully researched, and well written study of witchcraft and witchcraft trials in early modern Ukraine, one that is a pleasure to read. It constitutes a very lucid examination of archival records from three distinct regions of Ukraine that the author walks us through systematically. It is admirably well versed in the overall scholarship on witchcraft in Europe and elsewhere, which the author engages intensively and productively throughout the text."
https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/slavic-review/article/ukrainian-witchcraft-trials-volhynia-podolia-and-ruthenia-17th18th-centuries-by-kateryna-dysa-budapest-new-york-central-european-university-press-2020-x-254-pp-notes-bibliography-index-7500-hardbound/5D24F02DE9A61945534BB0C5A70DE4C3—Gary Marker, Slavic Review
Central European University Press

9786155053115 : ukrainian-witchcraft-trials-dysa
264 Pages
$79.00 USD

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