Spanning some of the most vibrant and fascinating eras in European history, Cambridge historian Derek Wilson reveals a society filled with an ardent desire for knowledge and astounding discoveries—and the fantastic discoveries that flowered from it. Thinkers were drew from surprising intellectual traditions: some from folk religion, which in its turn had deep roots in a pagan past; others referred to spirits or tapped into stores of ancient wisdom and herbal remedies. This was the world of wise women, witches, necromancers, potions and incantations. Even the mighty Catholic Church, which permeated all elements of life, had its own "magical" traditions.In 1663, the Royal Society in London received its charter. Just three years later, the French Academy of Sciences was founded, and other European capitals rapidly followed suit. In 1725, the word "science" was at last defined as "a branch of study concerned either with a connected body of demonstrated truths or with observed facts systematically classified." Yet just nine years before, the last witch had been executed in Britain. Fascinating and thought-provoking, A Magical World is a reminder of humanity's paradoxical nature—our passionate pursuit of knowledge alongside deep-rooted fears, superstitions, and traditions.
Derek K. Wilson is one of Britain's leading popular historians and is a highly regarded expert on the Tudor period. His previous history books include Charlemagne (Doubleday), The Uncrowned Kings of England (Basic Books), and Peter the Great (St. Martin's). This is his first novel to be published in America. He lives in England.