• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Why did witch hunting become so intensive in late sixteenth century England?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Tessa Eaton Why did witch hunting become so intensive in late sixteenth century England? During the late sixteenth century much was blamed on magic, and those accused of it. In a biblically aware society thy believed evil had to be rooted out. "Do not allow a sorceress to live"1 Bad weather, the death of live-stock, a bad harvest or spoiled butter were many problems blamed on witches, and "cunning folk" or "wise women" were called upon to counter act such curses. There were two types of magic in these times: high magic (black magic) and low magic (white magic). Low magic was generally accepted, as it was used by the cunning folk; while high magic was a capital offence. Why then did the numbers of accused witches increase? Lotherington suggests that witch-hunts were due to the fear of women. He says witches tended to be women past childbearing2, so were of no benefit for their community, and around eighty-percent of those accused of witchcraft were women3. Paul Thomas4 agrees with Lotherington that it was mainly women who were persecuted; large numbers of women were hanged after being accused of maleficium (doing of harm to people or property) by their neighbours. Thomas says that the witch-craze was a "broyle against old women"5. Contemporary evidence supports this, for example George Gifford6, a Protestant priest from Essex, who wrote two books on witchcraft, in 1587 "Discourse of the Subtle Practises of Devils by witches and Sorcerers" and in 1593, noted: "I was in a Jury not many years past, when there was an old woman arraigned for a witch..." Lotherington3 suggest that women had the power over life and death, and they were also sexually stereotyped as having little control over ravenous lust, hence they were accused of witchcraft. ...read more.

Middle

The approved attitude to witchcraft and sorcery from those in authority may have also been both a protection and a cause for witch-hunts. Historian Robert Masello17 reports how those in high power believed certain types of sorcery to be of benefit. Dr John Dee was an astrologer whose interests were also crystal gazing, alchemy, and necromancy was reported to have spent much time conversing with angels (according to Marsello and Dee's18 detailed documents of these encounters). Dr Dee wrote his book "Monas Hieroglyphica" which William Cecil1, Secretary and Lord Chancellor of Queen Elizabeth I, is alleged to have supported, stating the book was: "of the utmost value for the secretary of the Realm."1 However evidence such as this quotation from William Cecil may not be reliable, for we do not know when he was supposed to have said it or who wrote it down. Why did the Queen support Dee? The Queen herself came to Dee's aid when he became impoverished and rescued him with a small appointment. It seems that Dr John Dee was seen as a respectable Renaissance man and that his interest in alchemy was actually early chemistry, as illustrated in the 1652 image of "Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum"2. This showed the combination of sophisticated chemical apparatus and symbols of alchemy. However, in 1603 James I (of Presbyterian upbringing) loathed those associated with witchcraft, and did not continue to support Dee. Dee died, impoverished and surrounded by evidence of his trade, in 1608. Therefore the attitude of those in authority was all-important. Not all historians agree about the extent of witch hunting in England at this time. Lotherington19 suggests that there was no witch-craze in England, as for example, only one statue in Elizabeth's forty-four years of reign was passed against witches. ...read more.

Conclusion

Authority and Disorder in Tudor Times, 1999, Cambridge University press, page 80 6 J Lotherington, The Tudor Years, 1994, Hodder and Stoughton page 394 7 Alison Plowden, Elizabethan England: Life in an Age of Adventure, 1982, The Reader's Digest , page 191 8 Paul Thomas, Authority and Disorder in Tudor Times, 1999, Cambridge University press, page 80 9 Paul Thomas, Authority and Disorder in Tudor Times, 1999, Cambridge University press, page 40 10 G Scarre and J Callow, Witchcraft and magic in sixteenth and seventeenth-century Europe, 2001, Palgrave, page 10 11 Asa Briggs, A Social History of England, 1983, G Wiedenfeld and N Limited page 121 12 J Lotherington, Years of Renewal, 1988, Hodder and Stoughton, page 174 13 J Lotherington, Years of Renewal, 1988, Hodder and Stoughton, page 172 14 J Lotherington, Years of Renewal, 1988, Hodder and Stoughton, page 171 15 Leonard R N Ashley, The Complete Book of Demons and Devils, 1996, Robson Books Ltd, page 144 16 Leonard R N Ashley, The Complete Book of Demons and Devils, 1996, Robson Books Ltd, page 160 17 Robert Masello, Raising Hell, 1996, The Berkley Publishing Group, page 72 18 Benjamin Woolley, The Queen's Conjuror, 2001, HarperCollins Publishers, pages 78-79 19 J Lotherington, The Tudor Years, 1994, Hodder and Stoughton, page 392 20 Paul Thomas, Authority and Disorder in Tudor Times, 1999, Cambridge University press, page 35 21 Asa Briggs, A Social History of England, 1983, G Wiedenfeld and N Limited page 121 22 J Lotherington, The Tudor Years, 1994, Hodder and Stoughton, page 393 23 J Lotherington, Years of Renewal, 1988, Hodder and Stoughton, page 173 24 Paul Thomas, Authority and Disorder in Tudor Times, 1999, Cambridge University press, page 40 25 Paul Thomas, Authority and Disorder in Tudor Times, 1999, Cambridge University press, page 40 1 1 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree 1500-1599 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

3 star(s)

This essay covers the topic well and uses a range of evidence and historiography to make a solid argument. The essay structure could be improved, and the evidence and historiography could be better integrated to support the argument, which would improve the overall impression.

3 stars.

Marked by teacher Rachel Smith 29/05/2012

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree 1500-1599 essays

  1. To what extent can Wolsey be considered the master rather than the servant in ...

    On his succession, Henry was young and vibrant and he fully enjoyed the leisure pursuits of royalty, leaving the day to day administration of England to his advisors and in particular Thomas Wolsey (Lotherington, 2003). However, Gwyn (2002) argues that Henry was not a lazy king, despite his councillors sometimes

  2. History 1500

    However it was not the only reaction - "As soon as the inhabitants saw us they ran away, leaving their houses. They hid all they owned in the under growth"2. I believe that both types of reactions were caused by the same emotion 'fear'.

  1. Queen Elizabeth 1st on Religion.

    The proof is, she refers to the early history of Christianity in England : " ..your own Romish idolatry maketh you liars; witness the ancient monuments of gildas unto which both foreign and domestic have gone in pilgrimage there to offer.

  2. Which was the greater threat to Elizabeth's Church, Puritans or Catholics?

    However what the queen did not allow was that they were trying to change something that she thought was final, and in this way they were a threat. Despite the presence of the Puritans, they did have one great weakness that was not evident with the Catholics; they were not united.

  1. Tudor Coursework - Elizabethan foreign policy.

    This was a reaction to the ever-growing threat from powerful Spain, recognised by both countries. The treaty of Blois was a defensive alliance stating that if one country got in to trouble (with Spain) the other county would help defend their ally.

  2. Was Mary Queen of Scots a problem for Elizabeth I?

    the rising was intended to be supported by the Earl of Northumberland and Westmoreland who were going to rise and then Spanish troops and English recusants were intended to assassinate Elizabeth. Mary was then intended to be married to the Duke of Norfolk by the Pope.

  1. Mary Queen Of Scots Essay

    England's war with Spain in 1585, was also a factor that could have contributed to Mary's death. Spain was angry with Elizabeth's treatment of Mary and Phillip of Spain sent out ships to invade England.. He was told that if he did this, English Catholics would rebel against Elizabeth.

  2. A summary of the themes covered in St. Xaviers letter to the Society of ...

    They broke the idols and spit at them wherever they found them. These children were also assigned responsibility to teach as many people as they could in the nearby villages. St. Xavier left a copy of Christian doctrine when he had taught a village and then moved ahead.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work