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The Limits of MatterChemistry, Mining, and Enlightenment$
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Hjalmar Fors

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226194998

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226195049.001.0001

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Of Witches, Trolls, and Inquisitive Men

Of Witches, Trolls, and Inquisitive Men

(p.17) 2 Of Witches, Trolls, and Inquisitive Men
The Limits of Matter

Hjalmar Fors

University of Chicago Press

The chapter begins with the Stockholm witch trials, in which the doubts cast on the testimonies of the accusers cast further doubt on the power of witchcraft. Through these trials we also gain an insight into the intellectual world of Urban Hiärne, the first major chymist to be active at the Bureau of Mines. Chymistry, or rather alchemy, has often has been singled out as an occult and suspect enterprise. The chapter makes clear that interest in curious natural—as well as otherworldly—entities and phenomena such as witches, trolls, mine-spirits, subtle matters and telepathic phenomena was an integral part of several other early modern forms of knowledge, such as physics, natural history and law. By establishing the facts and beliefs held about nature in late seventeenth century Europe, the chapter sets the stage for an informed discussion of elite skepticism in the eighteenth century.

Keywords:   witchcraft, trolls, keeper entities, magic, subtle matter, curiosity, Seventeenth century

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