029 – By the Sword of the Magistrate

In today’s episode we see the tide turn on the English witch trials. By the end of his reign, James is unwilling to entertain the more ludicrous accusations and his heir, Charles I, continues this approach. Puritanism, the new bogeyman of the Anglican church, appears the most vocal supporter of the trials, and so the established clergy approach the topic warily. And the magistrates and judiciary have seen the last twenty years of legal precedent, of cases thrown out and judges publicly shamed, and have no interest in risking their careers.


This episode primarily makes use of the following sources:

  • Gaskill, Malcolm, ‘Witchcraft Trials in England’, in Levack, Brian (ed.) The Oxford Handbook
  • Holmes, R., Witchcraft in British History (1974)
  • MacFarlane, A., Witchcraft in Tudor and Stuart England (London, 1970)
  • Levack, B., ‘State-Building and Witch Hunting’, in Darren Oldridge (ed.), The Witchcraft Reader (London, 2002)
  • Poole, R., (ed.), The Lancashire Witches: Histories and Stories (2002)

A full bibliography can be found on the website.

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