Thursday, April 16, 2015

King James VI/I and Witches in Scotland and England

The Tea at Trianon blog features a post about James VI of Scotland (and I of England) and his fear of witches and witchcraft. Tracy Borman writes about how he acted upon that obsession in law and literature:

There was thus a fertile ground for James's witch hunting beliefs to take hold. In 1597, he published Daemonologie, a treatise on witchcraft that became so influential that it was republished several times and distributed across Europe. It inspired a witch hunting fervour of dangerous proportions, giving sanction to all manner of horrific persecutions. Those most at risk were women: as many as 95% of those convicted for witchcraft were female. Most were unmarried, poor and misfits in their community. Many had a 'familiar', such as a cat, dog or rat, which would supposedly help to carry out their evil spells.

The witch hunts also became a convenient way of getting rid of troublesome neighbours. The old saying that there was 'no smoke without fire' certainly held true here: an accusation was all that was needed to bring someone to trial, and a staggeringly high proportion of those who were hauled before the courts were found guilty.

Tracy Borman, Joint Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces, and a respected author of biographies and historical works, including Thomas Cromwell: The Untold Story of Henry VIII's Most Faithful Servant and Elizabeth's Women: The Hidden Story of the Virgin Queen, also written a book about witches and witchcraft in Scotland and England with an alliterative and sibilant subtitle: Witches: A Tale of Sorcery, Scandal and Seduction (what about Superstition?) A survey of the reviews in the London press suggests that Borman succeeds in informing readers of the appalling injustice of witchcraft trials in both Scotland and England under James VI/I but not in convincing them of the significance of the particular case she examines to prove the guilt of James' favorite, the Duke of Buckingham in the death of the sons of Francis Manners, the 6th Earl of Rutland.


  1. United States, Russia, Germany, UK, France, Switzerland, Canada, Romania, Australia--according to Blogger audience statistics

  2. Nice!

    If people in Romania start realising what the Reformation was, their Orthos might start getting decent to Catholics! I mean, not only in manners, but about the topic.

    Have you seen the Greek wiki article about Martin Luther?

    It's so idealising. It's like these Orthos are supplementing weak points in their own attacks on Catholicism by adding the accusations from ... well basically anything Protestant up to Foxe and Avro Manhattan (yup, I've seen a eulogy of him on a Serbian site!)

    Hope you make a difference over there!

    1. Did you see the blogpost about how Catholic bloggers should be writing more books and fewer blogs? Either way, it's hard to make a difference in a world overflowing with digital and print info!

    2. I did actually not see it.

      But all my blogs are meant to be republished in book form, here are: further use conditions for my own material on my blogs (further use = use beyond personal reading on internet or private printouts as usually granted by fact the blog is at all public) and here are Copyright issues on blogposts with shared copyright.

      So anything you find on all of my blogs without a stated and substantial coauthor having a still standing copyright is perfectly republishable in book form.

      Here is the list of my blogs, which on each blogger page is called sth like Other blogs, same writer, so I hope you find sth enjoyable and publishable.

      That blog right there is one where many posts do have coauthors, as I cite what codebators have answered me before citing what I answered them, that is also true for the blogs HGL's F.B. writings and Correspondence de / of / van Hans Georg Lundahl. On most other blogs, I have no coauthors except very few posts being wikipedian articles as coming out of my redaction, and nearly all "pages" (the posts that stand separately in a link list on top) are all mine as well.

      Also, I think that if many people got involved in printing my blogs (if, a rather big if), that might make them able to make a real difference.