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Narratives of the English Witch Craze

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dc.contributor.advisor Hayton, Darin Bracker, Emma 2015-07-24T14:08:28Z 2015-07-24T14:08:28Z 2015
dc.description.abstract This thesis explores the event in Manningtree, a small town in Essex, in 1645 that began the two‐year period that would come to be called England’s “Witch Craze” and the circumstances that lead to those events. The trials that took place in Chelmsford in July 1645 began months earlier with the arrest of Elizabeth Clark, an elderly widow with one leg, for witchcraft. Over the next several months 36 women were tried for witchcraft by witchfinders Matthew Hopkins and John Stearne and on July 25th 1645 19 of those women were executed. Before the end of the “witch craze” more than 200 accused witches had been executed. The Chelmsford trial came two years into a civil war that would eventually result in the beheading of a king. The chaos caused by the war had a destabilizing effect on communities throughout the country. Popular belief in witchcraft meant that there was always an underlying anxiety surrounding witches that may or may not exist in a community. When these anxieties reached the degree to which a community decided to do something about it, the incidents tended to be isolated and the trails tended to include no more that a few accused. In the case of the Chelmsford trial these anxieties were exacerbated by anxiety around the changes cause by the English Civil War and exploited by Matthew Hopkins. The pamphlets and journal entries that remain from the time of the trial contain the testimony of many townspeople as well as the confessions of many of the witches. These pieces of evidence show that fear of witches was about fear of the devil gaining entrance into the community through the witch and thus causing God to abandon the community. en_US
dc.description.sponsorship Haverford College. Department of History en_US
dc.language.iso en_US en_US
dc.subject.lcsh Trials (Witchcraft) -- England -- Chelmsford
dc.subject.lcsh Witchcraft -- England -- Chelmsford -- History -- 17th century
dc.title Narratives of the English Witch Craze en_US
dc.type Thesis (B.A.) en_US
dc.rights.access Open Access

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