Macbeth Navigator: The Witchcraft Pages
What were the beliefs of Shakespeare's audience about witchcraft? The answer to that question, like the answers to many questions about what is inside people's heads, is "It all depends."
Reginald Scot wrote The Discoverie of Witchcraft (1584) to show that belief in witchcraft was irreligious superstition, and that those who believed themselves to be witches were simply mentally ill. King James answered Scot in Dæmonologie (1597), but his book couldn't keep the belief in witchraft from fading out.
Pages from The Discoverie of Witchcraft
by Reginald Scot
|Note: As far as possible, the look of the printed page has been preserved, including the spelling. This means that most words which we now end with "y" are ended with "ie," so that, for example, "any" becomes "anie." Hypertext notes are indicated by an asterisk.|
Booke I. Chapter I: "An impeachment of Witches power in meteors and elementarie bodies tending to the rebuke of such as attribute too much unto them."
Booke I. Chapter II: "The inconvenience growing by mens credulitie herein, with a reproofe of some churchmen, which are inclined to the common conceived opinion of witches omnipotencie, and a familiar example thereof."
Booke I. Chapter III: "Who they be that are called witches, with a manifest declaration of the cause that mooveth men so commonlie to thinke, and witches themselves to beleeve that they can hurt children, cattell, &c. with words and imaginations: and of coosening witches."
Booke I. Chapter IV: "What miraculous actions are imputed to witches by witchmongers, papists, and poets."
Booke I. Chapter V: "A confutation of the common conceived opinion of witches and witchcraft, and how detestable a sinne it is to repaire to them for counsell or helpe in time of affliction."
Booke I. Chapter VI: "A further confutation of witches miraculous and omnipotent power, by invincible reasons and authorities, with dissuasions from such fond credulitie."
Booke I. Chapter VII: "By what meanes the name of witches becommeth so famous, and how diverslie people be opinioned concerning them and their actions."
Booke I. Chapter VIII: "Causes that moove as well witches themselves as others to thinke that they can worke impossibilities, with answers to certeine objections: where also their punishment by lawe is touched."
Booke I. Chapter IX: "A conclusion of the first booke, wherein is fore-shewed the tyrannicall crueltie of witchmongers and inquisitors, with a request to the reader to peruse the same."
Pages from Dæmonologie
by King James
|Note: As far as possible, the look of the printed page has been preserved, including the spelling. This means that you have to read "u" for "v" and vice-versa. Also, most words which we now end with "y" are ended with "ie," so that, for example, "any" becomes "anie." Hypertext notes are indicated by an asterisk.|
Second Booke. Chapter II: "The Etymologie and signification of that word of Sorcerie. The first entresse and prentishippe of them that giues themselues to that craft."
Second Booke. Chapter III: "The Witches actiones diuided in two partes. The actiones proper to their owne persones. Their actiones toward others. The forme of their conuentiones, and adoring of their Master."
Second Booke. Chapter IIII: "What are the waies possible,wherby the witches may transport themselues to places far distant. And what ar impossible & mere illusiones of sathan. And the reasons therof."
Second Booke. Chapter V: "Witches actiones towardes others. Why there are more women of that craft nor men? What thinges are possible to them to effectuate by the power of their master. The reasons thereof. What is the surest remedie of the harmes done by them. "