“The” Lancashire Witches
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This book is the first major study of England's biggest and best-known witch trial, which took place in 1612 when ten witches from the Forest of Pendle were hanged at Lancaster. In this volume, eleven experts from a variety of fields offer new surveys of these events, and of their meaning for contemporaries, for later generations, and for the present day. It is the fullest study of any English witch trial. Essays look at the politics of witch-hunting, the conduct of the trial, the social and economic contexts, religious forces, and the local and family details of the episode. The book also covers the little-known second witch trial of 1633-4, when up to nineteen witches were sentenced to death. Other essays look at how stories of Lancashire witchcraft have been shaped and retold, from Thomas Pott's original book of the trial, Shakespeare's Macbeth and Heywood and Brome's play The Late Lancashire Witches to Harrison Ainsworth's celebrated Victorian novel. There is also a study of the attitudes of present-day Lancashire Wiccans and their opponents. The essays present new research, but written in a clear style to make them accessible to non-specialists. Short prefaces explain the key points of each essay, and the introduction by James Sharpe places them firmly in context. The book will appeal to academics and students of history, renaissance studies and witchcraft, and to anyone with an interest in the historical truth behind the legendary Pendle witches.
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