IMPACT OF NOTABLE SCEPTICAL PUBLICATIONS

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  • Created on: 03-05-18 13:38

REGINALD SCOT'S THE DISCOVERIE OF WITCHCRAFT, 1584

influenced by Dutch physician Johan Weyer 'On the Illusions of Demons' - majority of witches suffered from a kind of melancholia - unable to harm themselves 

The Discoveries of Witchcraft 

  • Scot was a member of the "Family of Love", a radical protestant sect, they reject trad practices e.g. infant baptism
  • CORE BELIEF: natured controlled events on Earth, rather than God.
  • They showed contempt towards the Catholic Church. Scott made conncections between fraudulent w.hunts & the Catholic Church 

Before it published, Scot witnessed high-prof trials in Chelmsford. Scot believed in witches but disapproved the terrible effects of the hunts 

Self Published Due to Controversy: 

  • doubted far fetched charges e.g. cannibalism 
  • direct influence from Weyer: women belief in witches =melancholia / delusion 
  • those harming animals/people do it naturally e.g. poison
  • discounted magic tricks disguised as supernatural phenomena & the fraudulent individuals who carried them out - includes Cath Church blamed of magic tricks & cruelty to 'witches'

The book did more harm then good. King James ordered all copies to be burned - Daemonologie was his response to Scot!

Why Was Scott Sceptical About W.Craft 

  • because he was so devoted to Fam of Love and belief in the 'supernatural unknown'. Belief undisc elements with mysteries that'd explain unknown phenomena 
  • Most social contact for Scot was his tenants - strong believers in wc; found it hard to rationalise ith their beliefs + seeing child witnesses meant it held dubious foundations 
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SAMUEL HARSNETT: A DISCOVERY OF THE FRAUDULENT PRA

Harsnett: present at Darrel's examinations (Boy of Burton), he was very suspicious. His book debated the nature of witchcraft. Very religous man, minister 1583, Bish of Chichester and Norwich

ARGUMENT AND IMPACT: misleading through magic nothing new & critiques the Cath church for carrying out 'miracles and exorcisms' - belief rituals can solve any prob. Anyone who credits God's work is a heretic and fraud.

  • Section 1: How Darrell convinces people Somers was possed and D's blasphemous songs 
  • 2: Telling Somers to fake possessions and fake in exorcism 
  • Confessions of Somers & D's role in encouraging him to initially revoke it. His fits misinterpreted>etraordinary 
  • Great lengths to discredit Somers;s fits - playing around with amateur Greek and Latin
  • Boy of Burton Case: Darling acting possessed - how Dev can't possess.

Harsnett's 'Pamphlet War': important not only for the debates of D's honesty but the possibility of demonic possession. Joseph Hall believed D's critics were jealous. The case is seen as factional fighting, Puritan vs CofE. K.Thomas: controversy w/ prayer&fasting exorcism method

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THOMAS ADY'S: A CANDLE IN THE DARK, 1656

  • renowned doctor, highly educated
  • critical of physicians who failed to understand diseases&nat.events & quick to blame on witches

SIGNIFICANCE

Bible his only source: actions of w.finders and suspicions of witches not found in Bible. Wrote the book because he knew too many wrongful executions & ridic familiar claims - Scot a direct influence. - ESSENTIALLY A REVISION OF SCOT'S ORIGINAL MESSAGE 

  • Section 1: Bible's definition of a witch: astrologers, jugglers, charms - Cath priests guilty, no evidence of familairs 
  • 2: Original scriptures misinterpreted esp by Cath's, the first to kill for religion
  • 3: most angry Critique those who promote trials - Daemonologie + claiming Bish Montague wrote it. No scriptures in Daemonologie 

Ady uses rational common sense e.g. critical of methods and how swimming test easily manipulated - does also refer to Hopkins// Critical of Hocus Pocus: Magicians and Conjours, how it's actually all wires and moving statues.

  • Did believe in witches, but how it doesn't match 17th C def. Witch = unGodly 
  • Real crims = idolaters and w.hunters. The decline and scep deffo influenced by Ady
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JOHN WEBSTER'S: THE DISPLAINING OF SUPPOSED W.C 16

  • Doctor, familiar with Cambridg. Became a noncomformist (prot who refuses to conorm to CofE pratices - Repub gov seized his books
  • wrote in response to authors who claimed hunts were logic - rebuff of Glanville's Demon Drummer case 

EVIDENCE: witches carry out evil in own powers> supernatural   // comments on of Edmund Robinson was instructed by his dad in the Pendle Swindle

IMPACT: was never a significant thinker but taken seriously by the Royal Society (chem&mins) His methodical approach reflected the dawning of the new scientific age.

Trevor-Rober: Discounts Webster's work - can be found in Weyer's and Scot's work - The craze declines bc power of clergy over people's life decreased in prot countires - hence why longer craze longer in Cath ones

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PUBLICATION OF BALTHASAR BEKKER'S: 'THE ENCHANTED

  • Dutch clergymen and Cartesian rationalist (logic used in philos), wiriting about philos and theology as well as w.c.- son of a calvinist minister - influenced by relig trads minister in 1657

SIGNIFICANCE: Historians Kors amd Peters: most influential critical work of w.craft belief in the 17thC. Influenced by Scot, impossibility of witchcraft

  • uses bible as prim source; reason and unbias>rumours and stories 
  • doubtful of w.c cases - deception & irregularity
  • Unless Devil has a bod, it's imposs to possess and influence; he's forever in hell
  • Devil is an instrument of God, if you believe in his power = heretic 

Witches shouldn't be blamed for natural events - unknown about nature 

Significance of his Work: Historians' View

  • Trevor-Roper: doesn't add to Weyer, Scot, Webster. //  Bekker coincides with changes bc intellect climate sci approach adopted 
  • Keither Thomas: claims end of 17thC a crucial time for decline bc advancements in science. Intellects now believe they'd explain mysterious  events through natural causes 
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