The devil in the shape of a man: witchcraft, conflict and belief in Jacobean England

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Abstract

Historians agree that most early modern witches were women. A question rarely asked, though, is how any men came to be accused at all, given the strong association of women and witchcraft in popular folklore and learned demonology. This article examines the prosecution for witchcraft of a Kentish farmer in 1617, and argues that an integrated qualitative context of conflict and belief is essential for understanding this and other accusations. The aim is not, however, to offer yet another overarching explanation for the rise of witchcraft prosecutions, but rather to demonstrate how witchcraft can open windows on early modern mentalities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)142-171
Number of pages30
JournalHistorical Research
Volume71
Issue number175
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1998

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