Queens of the Wild – Pagan Goddesses in Christian Europe: An Investigation

Ronald Hutton

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  • Yale University Press
  • ISBN 9780300261011
  • 256 pages
  • Hardcover
  • 24 × 16.3 × 3 cm

A concise history of the goddess-like figures who evade both Christian and pagan traditions, from the medieval period to the present day

In this riveting account, renowned scholar Ronald Hutton explores the history of deity-like figures in Christian Europe. Drawing on anthropology, archaeology, literature, and history, Hutton shows how hags, witches, the fairy queen, and the Green Man all came to be, and how they changed over the centuries.

Looking closely at four main figures—Mother Earth, the Fairy Queen, the Mistress of the Night, and the Old Woman of Gaelic tradition—Hutton challenges decades of debate around the female figures who have long been thought versions of pre-Christian goddesses. He makes the compelling case that these goddess figures found in the European imagination did not descend from the pre-Christian ancient world, yet have nothing Christian about them. It was in fact nineteenth-century scholars who attempted to establish the narrative of pagan survival that persists today.

Ronald Hutton is senior Professor of History at the University of Bristol, and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, the Society of Antiquaries, the Learned Society of Wales, and the British Academy. He is the historian on the board of trustees which runs English Heritage, and chair of the Blue Plaques panel which awards commemorative plaques to historic buildings. He has published sixteen books and eighty-one essays on a wide range of subjects including Britishhistory between 1400 and 1700, ancient and modern paganism in Britain, the British ritual year, and Siberian shamanism. His previous publications include Rise and Fall of Merry England (OUP 1994), Stations of the Sun (OUP 1996; current ed. 2001), and The Witch: A History of Fear from Ancient Times tothe Present (Yale University Press 2017).

 

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