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Crimen Exceptum: The English Witch Prosecution in Context (Paperback)

Crimen Exceptum: The English Witch Prosecution in Context By Gregory J. Durston Cover Image
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As the author notes, 'The early-modern European witch-hunts were neither orchestrated massacres nor spontaneous pogroms. Alleged witches were not rounded up at night and summarily killed extra-judicially or lynched as the victims of mob justice. They were executed after trial and conviction with full legal process'. A mix of superstition, fear, belief and ready explanations for ailments, misfortune or disasters caused law, politics and religion to indulge in criminalisation and the appearance of justice. Bearing echoes of modern-day 'othering' and marginalisation of outsiders he shows how witchcraft became akin to treason (with its special rules), how evidentially speaking storms, sickness or coincidence might be attributed to conjuring, magic, curses and spells. All this reinforced by examples and detailed references to the law and practice through which a desired outcome was achieved.

In another resonance with modern times, the author shows how decisions were often diverted into the hands of witch-hunters, witch-finders (including self-appointed Witchfinder General, Matthew Hopkins), witch-prickers and other experts as well as the quaintly titled 'cunning-folk' consulted by prosecutors and 'victims'.

Crimen Exceptum (crimes apart). A straightforward and authoritative guide. Shows the rise and fall of prosecutions. Backed by a wealth of learning and research.

Extract: 'A range of specialist tests developed to establish that a suspect truly was a witch. These included "swimming", "pricking" ... identifying a witch's teat, requiring her to recite the Lord's Prayer or other well-known passage of scripture ... and any positive results obtained from the various techniques, such as scratching a suspect or boiling a victim's urine ... to break a spell or to identify who had cast it.'

Product Details
ISBN: 9781909976658
ISBN-10: 1909976652
Publisher: Waterside Press
Publication Date: June 5th, 2019
Pages: 240
Language: English
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Created At: 5/12/2019 06:45am
Last Updated At: 2/24/2022 09:20am