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3. Witchcraft and the Law
About this Lecture
In this module, we take a closer look at how the law developed in England around the issue of witchcraft. In earlier times, people had not used the law to deal with witchcraft and instead sought to counter it with apotropaic methods. However, from the middle of the 16th century, witchcraft legislation began to be introduced which sought to make the practice of witchcraft illegal. These laws took on new force under James I who attempted to define witchcraft more clearly and establish punishments. Under these new laws, witches would be prosecuted and hanged in the early 17th century. However, by the 1620s, James became resistant to this and witchcraft trials were all but halted.
In this course, Professor Malcolm Gaskill (University of East Anglia) explores the history of witchcraft in early modern England. In the first module we explore what we mean by witchcraft and how this changed over the centuries. We then turn to look at the rise of witch trials in England from the middle of the 16th century. We then take a closer look at how the law developed in England around the issue of witchcraft. After this, we turn to look at the East Anglian Witch-Hunt of the 1640s. Finally we will consider how and why witchcraft fades away from English life in the late 17th and 18th centuries.
Malcolm Gaskill in Emeritus Professor of History at the University of East Anglia. His research interests are in British social and cultural history from 1500–1800, particularly the history of witch-beliefs and witchcraft prosecutions. He has written a number of books including Witchfinders: a Seventeenth-Century English Tragedy and The Ruin of All Witches: Life and Death in the New World.
Cite this Lecture
Gaskill, M. (2021, December 01). Witchcraft, 1550-1750 - Witchcraft and the Law [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://massolit.io/courses/crime-and-punishment-witchcraft-1550-1750/witchcraft-and-the-law
Gaskill, Malcolm. "Witchcraft, 1550-1750 – Witchcraft and the Law." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 01 Dec 2021, https://massolit.io/courses/crime-and-punishment-witchcraft-1550-1750/witchcraft-and-the-law