10/30: Witch Trials at the Old Bailey

Visit http://www.oldbaileyonline.org and click on “Search” in the list to the left of the page. Simply enter “witch” or “witchcraft” or “sorcery” or “magick” as a Keyword and hit “Search”. Browse through a few of the articles you find of allegations, trials or accounts of witchcraft. Try your best to find one that others haven’t already analyzed by checking the WordPress site.

Write a 400-500 word blog post analyzing an actual witch trial. Summarize the content of the trial to accurately describe what is going on and make sure to identify all parties involved and explain a) what the evidence was, b) what the defense was, and c) the result of the trial.

In the second half of your response, compare your trial to the readings for this week and answer the following questions: What does this allegation suggest people believed about witches and witchcraft? Your response must cite the historical survey by Ankarloo and Clarke, as well as either Scaife’s True Ghost Story or one of the cases cited in Burr.

A few things to think about as you write:

The Puritans, for example, migrated to New England in order to establish their own religious order. Based on your chosen article, how does this get out of hand? How are people manipulating the laws of religion for the petty use of enacting social revenge or damaging one’s reputation? Why would this bring about distain for superstition as conveyed by Hobbes, Hume, etc. in Ankarloo and Clarke’s Witchcraft and Magic in Europe: The Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries? How does Scaife precaution the public in A Brief Sketch of Superstition of superstition and what lead him to make this disclaimer? Relate these ideas to progressive Enlightenment themes and cite both Ankarloo & Clarke and Scaife in your response.


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