""The fables of witchcraft have taken so fast hold and deepe root in the heart of man, that few or none can endure with patience the hand and correction of God."" Reginald Scot's The Discoverie of Witchcraft (published in 1584) was England's first major work of demonology, witchcraft, and the occult. The book was unashamedly skeptical. It is said that so outraged was King James VI of Scotland by the disbelieving nature of Scot's work that, on James' accession to the English throne in 1603, he ordered every copy to be destroyed. Yet for all the anger directed at Scot, and his scorn for Stuart orthodoxy about witches, the paradox was that his detailed account of sorcery helped strengthen the hold of European demonologies in England while also inspiring the distinctively English tradition of secular magic and conjuring. Scot's influence was considerable. Shakespeare drew on The Discoverie of Witchcraft for his depiction of the witches in Macbeth. So too did fellow-playwright Thomas Middleton in his tragi-comedy The Witch. Recognizing Scot's central importance in the history of ideas, Philip Almond places his subject in the febrile context of his age, examines the chief themes of his work and shows why his writings became a sourcebook for aspiring magicians and conjurors for several hundred years. England's First Demonologist makes a notable contribution to a fascinating but unjustly neglected topic in the study of Early Modern England and European intellectual history.
Lancaster Assizes, 1612 - ten people from Pendle in Lancashire are hanged, guilty of the crime of witchcraft. The poems in this book give voice to characters involved in the trials - from the accused to the accusers, from a child who bore witness against her own mother, to the hangman who carried out the final deed.
In the febrile religious and political climate of late sixteenth-century England, when the grip of the Reformation was as yet fragile and insecure, and underground papism still perceived to be rife, Lancashire was felt by the Protestant authorities to be a sinister corner of superstition, lawlessness and popery. And it was around Pendle Hill, a sombre ridge that looms over the intersecting pastures, meadows and moorland of the Ribble Valley, that their suspicions took infamous shape. The arraignment of the Lancashire witches in the assizes of Lancaster during 1612 is England's most notorious witch-trial. The women who lived in the vicinity of Pendle, who were accused, convicted and hanged alongside the so-called 'Salmesbury Witches', were more than just wicked sorcerers whose malign incantations caused others harm. They were reputed to be part of a dense network of devilry and mischief that revealed itself as much in hidden celebration of the Mass as in malevolent magic. They had to be eliminated to set an example to others. In this remarkable and authoritative treatment, published to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the case of the Lancashire witches, Philip C Almond evokes all the fear, drama and paranoia of those volatile times: the bleak story of the storm over Pendle.
This volume contains a series of provocative essays that explore expressions of magic and ritual power in the ancient world. The strength of the present volume lies in the breadth of scholarly approaches represented. The book begins with several papyrological studies presenting important new texts in Greek and Coptic, continuing with essays focussing on taxonomy and definition. The concluding essays apply contemporary theories to analyses of specific test cases in a broad variety of ancient Mediterranean cultures. Paul Mirecki, Th.D. (1986) in Religious Studies, Harvard Divinity School, is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Kansas. Marvin Meyer, Ph.D. (1979) in Religion, Claremont Graduate School, is Professor of Religion at Chapman University, Orange, California, and Director of the Coptic Magical Texts Project of the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity.
Witches, ghosts, fairies. Premodern Europe was filled with strange creatures, with the devil lurking behind them all. But were his powers real? Did his powers have limits? Or were tales of the demonic all one grand illusion? Physicians, lawyers, and theologians at different times and places answered these questions differently and disagreed bitterly. The demonic took many forms in medieval and early modern Europe. By examining individual authors from across the continent, this book reveals the many purposes to which the devil could be put, both during the late medieval fight against heresy and during the age of Reformations. It explores what it was like to live with demons, and how careers and identities were constructed out of battles against them – or against those who granted them too much power. Together, contributors chart the history of the devil from his emergence during the 1300s as a threatening figure – who made pacts with human allies and appeared bodily – through to the comprehensive but controversial demonologies of the turn of the seventeenth century, when European witch-hunting entered its deadliest phase. This book is essential reading for all students and researchers of the history of the supernatural in medieval and early modern Europe.
The essays in this Handbook, written by leading scholars working in the rapidly developing field of witchcraft studies, explore the historical literature regarding witch beliefs and witch trials in Europe and colonial America between the early fifteenth and early eighteenth centuries. During these years witches were thought to be evil people who used magical power to inflict physical harm or misfortune on their neighbours. Witches were also believed to have made pacts with the devil and sometimes to have worshipped him at nocturnal assemblies known as sabbaths. These beliefs provided the basis for defining witchcraft as a secular and ecclesiastical crime and prosecuting tens of thousands of women and men for this offence. The trials resulted in as many as fifty thousand executions. These essays study the rise and fall of witchcraft prosecutions in the various kingdoms and territories of Europe and in English, Spanish, and Portuguese colonies in the Americas. They also relate these prosecutions to the Catholic and Protestant reformations, the introduction of new forms of criminal procedure, medical and scientific thought, the process of state-building, profound social and economic change, early modern patterns of gender relations, and the wave of demonic possessions that occurred in Europe at the same time. The essays survey the current state of knowledge in the field, explore the academic controversies that have arisen regarding witch beliefs and witch trials, propose new ways of studying the subject, and identify areas for future research.