1486. Publication of the Malleus Maleficarum. This was the signal for severe and widespread persecution.
1541. Witchcraft Act passed in the reign of Henry VIll. Before this time, according to Hale, "Witchcraft, Sortilegium, was by the ancient laws of England of ecclesiastical cognizance, and upon conviction thereof, without abjuration, was punishable with death by writ de haeretico comburendo ". (Quoted by H. E. Lea, Materials Towards a History of Witchcraft.) This looks as if witches were formerly recognised as being an heretical sect, and confirms the old story of the "burning time".
1547. The Act of Henry VIII was repealed under Edward VI.
1562. Another Witchcraft Act passed, in the reign of Elizabeth I. The punishment was the pillory for the first offence, and death after three separate convictions.
1563. The Parliament of Mary Queen of Scots passed a law decreeing death for witches. "Upon a very moderate calculation, it is presumed that from the passing of the Act of Queen Mary till the accession of James to the throne of England, a period of 39 years, the average number of executions for witchcraft in Scotland was 200 annually, or upwards of 17,000 altogether. For the first nine years the number was not one quarter so great; but towards the years 1590 to 1593, the number must have been more than 400". (Mackay, History of Extraordinary Popular Delusions.)
1584. First edition of The Discoverie of Witchcraft, by Reginald Scot. This was one of the first books to deny superstitious notions of witchcraft, and to treat the subject in a rationalistic manner. James I ordered it to be burnt by the public hangman. (He obviously thought that in the wrong hands it was dangerous!) It is a witch tradition that they influenced the writing of books to make people see reason and stop the persecution-mania: such books ridiculed popular superstition, even to the extent of suggesting that there were no such beings as witches. This book of Scot's may have been one of such. Scot may even have been a witch himself; he displays a suspicious knowledge of magical processes, showing that he had evidently studied the subject.
1597. James VI of Scotland (James I of England) published at Edinburgh his treatise on Demonology and Witchcraft. Witchhunting was given Royal patronage.
1604. The Witchcraft Act of James I, the most severe yet introduced in English civil law. "Dr. Zachary Gray, the editor of an edition of Hudibras, informs us in a note to that work, that he himself perused a list of 3,000 witches who were executed in the time of the Long Parliament alone. During the first 80 years of the seventeenth century, the number executed has been estimated
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