Tares among the wheat : early modern English witchcraft in its socio-cultural and religious context
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The present thesis is an attempt to understand witchcraft and witch-beliefs in early modern England in socio-cultural and religious context. Here, various witchcraft pamphlets published in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, a few treatises written by the divines of the period, and several texts directly or indirectly related to the subject are examined. The general aim of this thesis is to investigate the relation between prevailing witch-beliefs and other elements of early modern English society and culture, and at the same time, to treat the interaction and conflict between the Protestant and popular cultures of the period within the context of the discussion of witchcraft. Particularly focusing on the image of the disorderly woman, the belief in the witch’s ‘familiar spirit’, and the Lancashire witch-trials of 1612, this thesis reveals that studying aspects of the beliefs about witchcraft allows for insights into the social, cultural, and religious atmosphere in early modern England and sheds light on the understanding of the world-views of both the learned and the villagers of the period.