The Elizabethan Belief in Witches
During the Elizabethan era people blamed unexplainable events as the work of witches. There were frequent outbreaks of the deadly Black Death (Bubonic Plague) for which there was no cure. The fear and anger about this terrible disease had to be directed at someone - witches were the obvious target. When people died from terrible diseases, when animals died, when there was a bad harvest, or when houses were burnt down in fires - someone had to be blamed - witches were the obvious targets.
Who were the people accused of being Elizabethan Witches?
Women were those most often accused of being witches! There were 270 Elizabethan witch trials of 247 were women and only 23 were men! Those accused of witchcraft were generally:
* Single women or widows ‘cause most of them kept pets for company - their 'familiars')
During the Elizabethan era men were all-powerful. Women had few rights and were expected to obey men. Elizabethan women totally relied on the male members of the family. Society and the culture of England was changing. The convents had been closed. The number of poor was increasing and people were far less charitable. Old, poor, unprotected women needed to be supported - and this was resented by other Elizabethans. Access to doctors and medicines was minimal. Women were expected to produce cures for most ailments as part of their house keeping.
Queen Elizabeth and the Punishment of Elizabethan Witches
Witches convicted of murder by witchcraft were to be executed but the punishment for witches in England was hanging, not burning at the stake which was the terrible death that was inflicted on French and Spanish witches. Lesser crimes relating to witchcraft resulted in the convicted witch being pilloried. Torture was not allowed as part of the investigatory or punishment procedure for witches. As the Witchcraft Law did not define sorcery as heresy the matter of... [continues]
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