Regarding Men: The insuffiency of the current early modern witchcraft paradigm

Many areas of historical study ignore the unique role of women. However, the study of witchcraft in early modern England is not one of them. Since the publication of Keith Thomas’s significant work Religion and the Decline of Magic, many historians have made serious efforts to establish women as the sole object of witchcraft accusations (at least of any importance). In fact, this objectification is so embedded in the modern historiography that ‘witch’ has become synonymous with ‘woman’.[1] Those who unquestioningly hold to such a paradigm discount Karl Popper’s warning, “Very often we are unaware of the fact that we are operating with hypotheses or theories, and we therefore mistake our theoretical models for concrete things.”[2]

Historians must continually question assumptions and ideas about the past, so that the historical models being implemented do not become presumed truths. The historian not only implements models in interpretation but also criticizes the model itself. The current paradigm of witchcraft is one such model that requires greater criticism. Through an analysis of demonological works and three case studies of male witchcraft, this examination intends to interrogate the comprehensiveness and applicability of the witch/woman paradigm in early modern England. If historians can begin to look at witchcraft outside the witch/woman paradigm, without discarding it completely, future research can be done with a greater openness to the intricacies of witchcraft accusations.

The belief that most accused witches were women is not in question here. Rather, this essay intends to support and expand upon Christina Larner’s claim that early modern witchcraft accusations while “sex-related, were not sex-specific.” [3] Undoubtedly, gender is a valuable aspect in studying witchcraft, but should historians assume it to be the most important aspect? As Robin Briggs states, “Gender is now an issue everyone has to confront, whereas at the time of witchcraft persecution it was a bundle of shared assumptions.”[4] There is a tendency within the witch/woman paradigm to apply modern concepts and expectations of sexuality and gender to the early modern period. Was this bundle of assumptions as important in early modern society as it is today? Or, were there alternative reasons why women were accused more often than men?

Before attempting to answer such questions, it is necessary to acknowledge the strong points of the witch/woman paradigm. Though the paradigm has never been systematically mapped out, most research on early modern witchcraft operates under the presumption that “the history of witchcraft is primarily a history of women.”[5] Since the 1970s, gender has been the primary factor in studying witch trials. [6]Because of this it is important to understand the basic evidence for the witch/woman paradigm and why so many scholars believe “witchcraft was quintessentially the crime of women.” [7]

First, most witch trials in England and Europe focused on women. Many historians like Stuart Clark conclude from this that there was an “association of witchcraft with women.”[8] In England, over eighty-five percent of accused witches were women.[9] Around Europe, the numbers fluctuated, however in most regions the accused witches were predominantly women. Furthermore, in demonological treatises such as the Malleus Maleficarum, there tends to be a temperament, which could be labeled as misogynistic. The Malleus states:

here are three things in nature, the Tongue, an Ecclisiastic, and a Woman, which know no moderation in goodness or vice… When they are governed by a good spirit, they are most excellent in virtue; but when they are governed by an evil spirit, they indulge the worst possible vices.[10]

Most works on witchcraft focused upon the physical, emotional, and spiritual weakness of women, conceiving women to be more open to the Devil’s temptations.[11] Clark concludes that, “writers on witchcraft evidently took for granted a greater propensity to demonism in women.”[12] In a final point of interest, there is also the modern assumption that the Devil always takes a male form to tempt humans. This connects with the idea of women as the weaker sex, the female biology, like the female heart and mind, was more susceptible to possession and witchcraft. However, recent research has quietly raised important questions regarding the witch/woman paradigm. Malcolm Gaskill states, “the fact that even a single man was prosecuted for witchcraft has implications for what witchcraft actually meant in terms of experience…”[13] This is poignant because, even though men make up only a small minority of witchcraft accusations in England, those who were accused become a dangerous contradiction to the witch/woman paradigm. In Normandy, Estonia, and Burgundy, more men were accused of witchcraft. The people in Iceland, where ninety percent of witches were male, read the same Malleus Maleficarum as they did in all of Europe and England.[14] What can one conclude from such statistics? How does English witchcraft compare to these European examples?

Stuart Clark has rightly argued that early modern demonology has not received adequate research. What has been done is limited to criticizing the gender “relevant selections of the Malleus Maleficarum and little or nothing else.”[15]But there is an entire body of literature that arose in Elizabethan and Jacobean England written to instruct judicial officers and educate people about witchcraft. The general assumption about this literature has been that “witchcraft, as the demonologists had repeatedly insisted, was sex-linked.”[16] Neglecting this intellectual source material has perhaps done a great deal to sustain mistaken assumptions about early modern witchcraft because English demonology offers several contradictions to the witch/woman paradigm.

First, the Biblical precedents of witchcraft, such as Simon Magus and the Egyptian magicians, studied by early modern scholars were often male. It is important to remember that, “these figures provided precedents that prevented witchcraft theorists from developing a conceptual barrier to the idea of male witches.”[17] Biblical and classical ideas were benchmarks for early modern thinking. It would be difficult to conclude that such examples of male witchcraft had little or no effect upon early modern thinking. For, as one English demonologist states, Biblical and early modern witchcraft “be the same” and in “the substance and the foundation of Witchcraft agree.”[18]

As early as 1501, the question of gender and witchcraft was present, if not prevalent in Europe. Pope Alexander VI, in a papal bull to the Inquisitor of Lombardy, states, “we have learned that in the province of Lombardy many people of both sexes give themselves over to diverse incantations and devilish superstitions in order to procure many wicked things…”[19] Other European scholars express similar opinions. The witchcraft prosecutor Nicholas Remy argued that both men and women could copulate with demons: “He [the Devil] fabricates some fair and delectable body and offers it for a man’s enjoyment…”, just as would occur with female witches and a male body.[20] Furthermore, Remy offers several examples where male witches knowingly committed such acts with the Devil, while presenting no special awareness of a female proclivity toward witchcraft. Elsewhere, a priest is recorded as being continually tempted by a female demon into breaking his vow of chastity.[21] In fact, early modern demonologists seemed to agree with St. Thomas Aquinas’s view that demons could take both male and female bodies.[22]

It is important to remember that, “the male witches described in demonological texts are not homosexual; indeed, even their demon lovers are female. They are not described as wearing women’s clothing, working in women’s occupations, or having feminine habits.”[23] Male witches were not considered ‘unnatural’ in their gender or sexuality. If they were, it could explain the existence of male witches in the early modern period (at least in terms of the witch/woman paradigm).

The Malleus Maleficarum, a standard text on witchcraft, has a tendency to avoid a gendering of witches. It asks,”why this kind of perfidy [toward witchcraft] is found in more fragile of sex than in men ?”[24] At first, this may seem to possess a clear gender bias. However, if witches were identified naturally with women, it seems then that the answer would be assumed and the question mute. Why should the authors feel it necessary to address something that was a presumed truth, embedded in the social construction of witchcraft? Instead, they take measures to justify this tendency toward women.[25]

This fragility of women does not exempt men from witchcraft. The Malleus simply considered women to be more prone to witchcraft, but since the root of witchcraft was “to abjure the faith”, any adult was capable of it. [26] Instead of pointing to a gendered cause (e.g. wretchedness of women or the sin of Eve), the Malleus points to heresy as the source of witchcraft.

Most English treatises on witchcraft were written much later than those in Europe . Until Reginald Scot published his skeptical work Discoverie of Witchcraft in 1584, it was foreign texts like Latin copies of the Malleus that instructed English intellectuals and court officials about witchcraft.[27] However, the subsequent English works followed the European examples, avoiding a stereotype of witches as women. Some English writers even moved away from the European stance on gender and witchcraft, concluding that men and women were almost equally likely to be witches.

In A Discourse on the Damned Art of Witchcraft (1610), preacher William Perkins makes a detailed argument for the possibility of male witches. For Perkins, the difference between a witch and a magician was not determined by gender but instead depended upon an “open or secret league” the witch made “to use the aide and assistance of the Devil.” He clarifies his point, saying, “I comprehend both sexes or kindes of persons, men and women, excluding neither from being Witches.”[28] This was not a mere concession for Perkins. For even though he states women are “sooner intangled” because they are the “weaker sexe”, he holds true to his claim that both men and women can be witches. [29] Richard Bernard in A Guide to Grand Jury Men (1627) agrees with Perkins:”women were more addicted thereunto than men.” He then provides five reasons for this greater proclivity toward witchcraft, and yet he is adamant that both sexes have been and are witches.[30]

While these writers exhibited patriarchal ideas of women’s inferiority to men, they also believed both men and women could be witches. One could infer from this that these scholars were intent upon rubbing out a popular stereotype connecting women with witchcraft. It is no serious stretch of the imagination to believe the intellectual community and the uneducated populace held conflicting beliefs about witchcraft. These treatises were intended to eradicate such popular errors, establishing the opinion of “the clerical and judicial elite: namely that witches could be men as well as women.”[31]

Several English treatises alluded to the possibility of men being more susceptible to the temptation of witchcraft. Thomas Ady’s treatise, A Candle in the Dark (1656), seems to hold the line of earlier thinking, in that, “A Witch is a Man, or Woman, that practiseth Devillish crafts…”[32] But, this could also be read as Ady considering men more likely to be witches and including women as an afterthought. This interpretation is bolstered by the continuous use in Ady’s work of masculine pronouns when referring to witches. Moreover, Ady is prone to use male examples of witches in his arguments, such as Simon Magus, King Ahaz, Jannes and Jambres, and the magicians of Pharaoh in the story of Moses. Finally, he explains, “Moses…speaketh more fully Witches in the Masculine, than in the female Sex; it confuteth that common tradition of people that Witches are most of the female Sex.”[33] It seems safe to assume then that Ady saw men and women as equally likely to be witches.

Such sentiments were also expressed earlier in the century by preacher Thomas Cooper in The Mystery of Witchcraft(1617). Cooper agrees with contemporaries like Perkins and Bernard that both men and women were capable of witchcraft and that women were the weaker of the two sexes. But Cooper also argues, “man by Ordination is fitter to command…therefore hath the God of this world, for ambitions and aspiring men so suitable a point in this Trade [of witchcraft].”[34] They are “fitter” candidates to be witches because of their social and spiritual positions of authority. The Devil can seduce them, using the male’s natural position as master over his children, his wife, and his household as a hook to becoming master over supernatural forces. Nathanael Homes submits a similar idea arguing that it was “men…at such times as these, [that] the Devil, by voice only, or by some shape also, approacheth near to them, offering them aid…upon his conditions”, and this the Devil achieved through “this method of pride.”[35]

While statistical evidence cannot be ignored, there is no proclivity to hunting women as witches in English demonology. In fact, the opposite could be true. If such a witch/woman paradigm did exist in popular belief, then it could be said that many writers strove to reform popular opinions that equated witches with women.

Popular views of witchcraft at times differed from the demonological literature. However, these two viewpoints needed some coherency because the witch trial depended upon both popular and intellectual opinions. Because of this, the witch trial is an interesting object of historical study. As Jim Sharpe points out, the witch trial was more “than [a] straightforward imposition of learned beliefs on the populace.”[36] Often, the popular views of the community brought accusations and testimonies to the courts’ attention. Then the legal/intellectual views of the court derived a verdict. An old widow with a hooked nose and a tempestuous personality may be considered ‘witch-like’ by her neighbors; however, the courts would probably demand more substantial evidence to convict her. Likewise, Matthew Hopkins, the infamous witch hunter, could have easily convicted a traveling medicine man of witchcraft, where the community saw a wise healer. To obtain a guilty verdict, the court needed relative consistency between popular beliefs and intellectual ideas. Since the research supporting the witch/woman paradigm is based to a great extent upon witch trials, it is necessary to look there for further evidence, so this investigation can extend beyond the realm of demonology.

In early modern England, there were dozens of male witches. Nevertheless, the male witch is only an incidental point of early modern witchcraft history. Some scholars have theorized that eleven of the twenty-three male witches in Elizabethan Essex were accused because of a relationship they had with an accused woman.[37] While ultimately inconclusive, such conjecture does not provide analysis of the twelve male witches unconnected to women. What can be said about the male witches that had no female relation?

Among these men was John Samond, accused in 1560 of bewitching John Graunte and Bridget Pecocke and murdering them. After this trial session, in which he was found not guilty, Samond is accused of witchcraft several times over the next twenty years. Only once in 1570 does Joan Samond, John’s wife, appear in court for witchcraft alongside John.[38] Finally, in 1587, John returns twice for murder by witchcraft, both times a number of women are accused of witchcraft as well. But, where the female witches were released, Samond was finally convicted and executed.[39]

Samond does not seem like the stereotypical witch. He was married, male, and a beer brewer. Neither does his witchcraft seem induced by a female witch. John’s wife Joan had only the one accusation in 1570, whereas her husband was finally convicted and executed for being a witch. Nor is there any evidence of Samond being a cuckold. In fact, Lara Apps and Andrew Gow assert that, “His indictments demonstrate that…men could be accused of witchcraft independently of their female relatives and were not always accused of practicing magic that was different from that of women.”[40] If there was any spousal connection to witchcraft, it seems that it was John influencing Joan, rather than vice versa.

Also, Samond’s story occurs years before most of the English demonology. This was a time when much of the legal/intellectual ideas about witchcraft were derived from European sources; however, such ideas about gender and witchcraft do not appear to be dissimilar from the later English demonology. Nor does popular opinion seem at all opposed to the idea of a male witch. Samond received no less than four accusations of witchcraft from townspeople over a twenty-year span. Samond seems to fall into William Perkins’s category of the “bad witch” who was “in league with the Devill…for the doing of hurt.”[41]The notion of a man being a malicious witch was as tenable before 1600, as it was after scholars like Scot, Cooper, and Ady published their ideas.

The second case study is that of Dr Fian (alias John Cunningham), a true-life Faustus. As schoolmaster in Saltpans during the 1580s, Fian was charged with:

[B]eing the clerk to all those that were in subjection to the Devil’s service bearing the name of witches, that always he did take their oaths for their true service to the Devil, and that he wrote for them such matters as the Devil still pleased to command him.[42]

Along with this, Fian confessed to having bewitched a gentleman, driving him to “lunacy and madness”. But Fian’s fatal crime was his attempt to seduce via witchcraft the said gentleman’s wife. He confessed that he had “used means sundry times to obtain his purpose and wicked intent of the same gentlewoman…trusting by conjuring, witchcraft, and sorcery he might to obtain it…”[43]

There are several compelling factors in Fian’s case. First, the reason Fian committed the final act of witchcraft was because of his lust to have another man’s wife. This is a recurring theme in demonology. While writers mention many possible reasons for witchcraft, one of the most emphasized is lust or carnal desire.[44] The Malleus has been criticized for claiming: “All witchcraft comes from carnal lust, which is in women insatiable.” [45] The Malleus does not say men cannot be witches out of lust. Nor does it say men do not have insatiable lust. The idea of women as the weaker sex did not exclude the possibility of men using witchcraft to fulfil lustful desires.

An interesting factor in Fian’s case is his confession. Procuring a confession from an accused witch was very important in a witch trial. As Bernard states, “We see therefore, that Witches may be brought to confesse their Witchcraft. And this much for the sound evidences, more then presumptions, upon which they may be found guilty, and justly be condemned, and be put to death.”[46] The confession acted as a reassurance that the person in question was actually a witch. Fian’s confession is evidence of the idea that men could identify themselves with witchcraft, regardless of any gender-oriented stereotype. This point further destabilises the witch/woman paradigm. For a community to suspect a man of witchcraft and then project the identity of a witch upon him in a witch trail is one thing. But for a man to embrace that identity even so far as to confess the crime of witchcraft is much more revealing. Men could believe themselves to be witches; something that could not occur if the witch/woman paradigm were as strong in early modern society as many believe it to have been.

Another factor in this case is the use of torture to extract a confession. The idea that torture was a physical manifestation of the suppressive nature of early modern masculinity toward female witches (i.e. unnatural women) seems slightly undermined here.[47] Demonologists condoned the use of torture to procure the truth from a witch. However, they never distinguish between male and female in the context of torture. Nor do they make any extra effort to encourage torture of female witches.[48] Fian underwent the “thrawing of his head with a rope”, suffering of “the boots”, after which he confessed to the aforementioned witchcraft and repented.[49] He then suffered the boots again and his fingernails were torn off with pincers.[50] If torturing women was an expression of misogyny, then why were male witches like Dr Fian, or the later convicted witch John Lowes, tortured?[51] Though torturing women may have been done for different reasons than torturing men, it seems more reasonable to conclude the threat of witchcraft was the motivating reason.

Perhaps the most compelling factor in Fian’s case is his degree of control over other witches. Fian was both an educated and well-respected member of the community. He was also a registrar and conductor of a group of witches, most of whom were women. Even though this case precedes Thomas Cooper’s work, it reflects the same idea that men are prone to witchcraft because they are “fitter to command.”[52] Fian was a pivotal figure for the other witches involved. He is the epitome of Thomas Ady’s description of a witch as, “a Ring-leader to Idolatry.”[53] For the witch was not only a threat to themselves and to their victims but also to everyone they seduced into learning their sorcery.

The final case study is William Godfrey of New Romney in Kent.[54] This case began when William Clarke accused Godfrey of bewitching Clarke’s lamb after Clarke had a dispute with Godfrey’s daughter Judith. Days later, Clarke’s wife was unable to get butter from the churn. Interestingly, it was Godfrey’s daughter, not Godfrey himself, who had argued with Clarke. Yet, it was the man, the head of the household, who was accused.[55] After this, John and Susan Barber provided a history of suspicious happenings for the court. John Barber described “ghostly sounds”, and Susan Barber claimed that Godfrey’s familiars, described as “three rugged blacke spaniell dogges”, tried to carry off her newborn child.[56]Margaret and William Holton, who lived on Godfrey’s land, reported similar bizarre experiences. In 1614, their infant son James died after Godfrey had blessed the sick child, convincing the Holton’s of Godfrey’s malice. Finally, in 1618, Godfrey was charged with using maleficium to destroy the goods of William Clarke and to murder James Holton.

Malcolm Gaskill’s analysis of Godfrey’s case has revealed several important aspects of English attitudes toward witchcraft. First, Godfrey’s tale, like that of many accused females, “can also be read as a classic tale of fear andmaleficium.”[57] The fear of the unchecked power of witchcraft was perceived by most as a substantial threat. Godfrey’s authority and position did not deter the accusations, but perhaps even lent to the neighbors suspicions. For many of the occurrences are connected to Godfrey’s property or property Godfrey wanted to own. Godfrey’s ducks strayed onto Clarke’s land; the Barbers and the Holtons rented lodgings on Godfrey’s land; and Godfrey expressed interest in John Barber’s piglets. One examinant testified he would “have no doinge with the said Godfrey for if he had not, then Godfrey could have no power over him.”[58] Other aspects of the classic witch trial that appear include: verbal curses, the loss of livestock and children, an arrogant or peculiar personality, a history of strange incidences, and the presence of familiars. But it is the minor aspects like Godfrey’s familiars that make this case so intriguing. Familiar spirits were not a frequent part of English witch trials. Though George Gifford explains that it was these “uncleane spirits” who “are the doers in sorceries and witchcrafts”, the familiar spirits are not always present or even expected in witchcraft accusations.[59]

However, many male witches reportedly had familiars, including confessed cunning man John Walsh in 1566. [60]Both Giles Fenderlyn and John Lowes, vicar of Brandeston in Sussex, were believed to have conjured familiars.[61]These familiars always seemed to be a sign of malicious witchcraft, as Richard Bernard explains, “For these [spirits] they call, when they would doe harme, as farre as the these spirits have power to doe hurt, and then bid them doe this or that for them.”[62]In Godfrey’s case familiars elevated the community’s fear of the witch and further inflamed their detestation of him. Familiars were not only extensions of a witch’s power but were themselves free agents of malice that worked outside the witch’s control.

Godfrey’s case also challenges English demonology. For many demonologists, witches became witches out of necessity, to fulfil basic needs. This is why many theorists assumed most witches were impoverished or social outcasts.[63] Godfrey, however, lived an upper-middle class lifestyle. He does not appear to have been a nobleman, for he is never addressed as such. But Godfrey was wealthy enough to afford his own sword, while serving in a militia, something few of his comrades could do. He also served as a petty juror for his village and made his money as a husbandman.[64] Altogether, Godfrey was wealthy enough to dote on his children and own several pieces of land, livestock, and at least two living spaces. That Godfrey was male, financially prosperous, and a solid member of the community problematises the general image of a witch both in the demonology and in the historiography.

Understood as samples of a larger collection of male witchcraft, these case studies become complicated within the witch/woman paradigm. Along with Godfrey, Fian, and Samond, there were infamous cases like the astrologer Dr John Lambe.[65] Other examples include Thomas Lyons and John Vaux, curates of Earsdon and St. Helens respectively, prosecuted for practicing divination and witchcraft. Anthony Blake, a schoolmaster in York, was arrested by the church courts for witchcraft.[66] A relatively early example is the convicted traitor John Story who confessed to having cursed Queen Elizabeth as part of his mealtime prayers.[67] Though he was convicted of treason not witchcraft, witchcraft was considered to have been his weapon. While early modern witchcraft was sex-related, little explanation has yet to be offered as to how being male effected the witch’s prosecution. For if witchcraft was sex-related, and both males and females were witches, then it follows that both genders would have unique connections to witchcraft. But how were men connected with witchcraft? What advantages or disadvantages did being male give to the accused? Did the community see any difference between male and female witches? Or, was witchcraft perceived as an equalizer, a spiritual virus that needed to be eradicated regardless of its host?

The fear of witchcraft was as real to early modern society as the fear of bio-terrorism is to the twenty-first century. Moreover, witchcraft enticed people away from God to the damnation of the Devil, threatening a person’s temporal and eternal future. For many demonologists, the root of witchcraft could be traced to the Biblical account of Adam and Eve. The sin of Adam and Eve “was then learned, and could never since be forgotten, but continually is derived from them to all their posteritie.” This original sin, several demonologists believed, was the “cause of the practices of Witchcraft.”[68] For women to be witches was certainly a terrible thing. But a male witch could present an even greater danger to society. As Adam (not Eve) allowed sin into the world (1 Corinthians 15:22), so a male witch could produce several times more havoc because of his position of authority. Since men could trade goods, buy and sell property, make contractual agreements, and were the heads of households, a male witch could endanger a much wider spectrum of the community from a higher position of power.

Perhaps one question that requires reexamination is why did people become witches? Or, what was believed to be the cause(s) of witchcraft? One possible answer to this concerns the general stereotype of witches as elderly and/or impoverished individuals seeking aid through supernatural means. These witches are as Reginald Scot wrote, “old, lame, pale, and full of wrinkles”, who are socially and economically powerless and turn to magic to gain social power.[69] The idea of weakness is the important factor here. For, it was the impoverished or socially oppressed men and nearly all women that could be suspected of witchcraft. Yet, there seems to be the implication that the witch is also a victim of the Devil. As Richard Bernard reflected, “ignorant whose eyes are blinded by Satan and are led captive by him.”[70]These weak people are seduced into the vilest of acts: selling one’s soul to fulfill carnal desires.

On the other hand, there is another reason for why people became witches. The root of witchcraft in some cases was believed to be the product of “vain pretence of extraordinary skill and knowledge” and/or “the pride of the heart.”[71]Cases like that of William Godfrey and Dr Fian are examples of such witchcraft, where the accused is not socially or financially downcast, but rather prosperous. Fian, a schoolteacher, seems to be an instructor of witches, and Godfrey is a mildly affluent middle-classman who curses anyone who does not cooperate with him. Neither one possesses physical, financial, or social weaknesses. Witchcraft in individuals such as Fian and Godfrey was not an act of desperation. It can better be described as “seducing the people for gain, from the knowledge and worship of God…to the worshipping of Idols.”[72] Such witches were seduced by a lust for power. This more malicious motive for witchcraft makes the witch, not the Devil, the active force of wickedness. While this distinction may appear too academic, it is essential in understanding how men could be accused of witchcraft. As men were perceived as stronger, they would not usually be prone to witchcraft out of weakness as readily as women. There needed to be another explanation for why prosperous males in early modern England turned to witchcraft. Motives of pride of heart and vanity in one’s knowledge and ability provides such an explanation.

There are several explanations that could be offered to explain male witchcraft. For instance, female witches could have bewitched the males. Both Fian and Godfrey were themselves victims of witchcraft conjured by women.[73]Several women in early modern England had made accusations that witches had bewitched or possessed them with a demon.[74] So, it is feasible to believe male witches were victims of female witches. But this is something extremely difficult to prove. Though the number of male witch accusations in England is miniscule, it is hard to believe that all men were victims of women. If this were the case, or even if this were society’s perception, then there would be more evidence for it within the demonology.

Even the smallest number of male witches demands an explanation. Gender certainly played an important role in witchcraft. However, it does not seem to have been the ultimate factor as the witch/woman paradigm promotes. Women did bear the majority of the accusations, especially during witch-crazes. But, one must keep in mind that women were also the subjects, as well as the objects, of accusations. Peter Rushton notes that in Durham, defamation suits (some probably for false witchcraft accusations) were most commonly brought against women by women.[75] Men also played a significant role in witch trials as witnesses, judges, victims, prosecutors, and accused witches. Until it can be proven otherwise, there were male witches that acted, or were accused of witchcraft, independently of women. Historians must begin to account for male witchcraft in the historiography. Until this happens, many scholars will continue to ignore, or pay mere lip service to, an important factor in witchcraft studies: the men.

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[1] The concept of this paradigm will be abbreviated as “witch/woman” in this essay.Back

[2] Karl Popper, The Poverty of Historicism, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1961, p. 136. Back

[3]Christina Larner,Witchcraft and Religion: The Politics of Popular Belief, Alan MacFarlane (ed.), Basingstoke, Oxford, 1984, p. 87. Back

[4] Robin Briggs, Witches and Neighbours: The Social and Cultural Context of European Witchcraft, Harper Collins, London, 1996, p. 286. Back

[5] Carol Karlsen, The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England, W.W. Norton, London, 1987, p. xiii. Back

[6] Anne Barstow, Witch-craze: A New History of the European Witch-hunts, Harper Collins, London, 1971; Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English, Witches, Midwives and Nurses: A History of Women Healers, Writers and Readers Publishing Corp., London, 1973; Karlsen, The Devil in the Shape of a Woman; Marianne Hester,Lewd Women and Wicked Witches: A Study of the Dynamics of Male Domination, Routledge, London, 1992. Back

[7] Barstow,Witch-craze, pp. 148-9. Back

[8] Stuart Clark, Thinking with Demons: The Idea of Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1997, p. 109. Back

[9] Alan Macfarlane, Witchcraft in Tudor and Stuart England, a Regional and Comparative Study, Routledge, London, 1970, p. 160. Back

[10] Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger, Malleus Maleficarum, trans. Rev. Montague Summers, Dover Press, New York, 1971, part 1, question VI, p.42. Back

[11] See Keith Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic, Penguin Books, London, 1971, pp. 620-22; 678-80.Back

[12] Clark, Thinking with Demons, p. 117. Back

[13] Malcolm Gaskill, “The Devil in the Shape of a Man: Witchcraft, Conflict, and Belief in Jacobean England”,Historical Research , vol. 71, no. 175 (June 1998), p. 147. Back

[14] Kirsten Hastrup, “Iceland: Sorcerers and Paganism”, Early Modern European Witchcraft: Centres and Peripheries, Bengt Ankarloo and Gustav Henningsen (eds), Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1990, p.267. Back

[15] Clark, Thinking with Demons, p. 116. Back

[16] E. William Monter, Witchcraft in France and Switzerland: The Borderlands During the Reformation, Cornell, NY : Cornell University Press, 1976, p.198.Back

[17] Lara Apps and Andrew Gow, Male Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe, Manchester University Press, Manchester, 2003, pp. 122-3. Back

[18] William Perkins, A Discourse on the Damned Art of Witchcraft , London , 1610, pp. 186-7. Back

[19] Alan Kors and Edwards Peters, Witchcraft in Europe, 400-1700: A Documentary History, 2nd ed., University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 2001, p. 190.Back

[20] Nicholas Remy,Demonolatry, trans. E.A. Ashby, London, 1930, Bk.1, ch.1.Back

[21] Reginald Scot,The Discoverie of Witchcraft, 1584, Book IV, ch. 9.Back

[22] St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, trans. Fathers of the English Dominican Province, Benziger Brothers Inc., New York, 1947, p. 267. Back

[23] Apps and Gow, Male Witchcraft, p. 128. Back

[24] Kramer and Sprenger,Malleus, part 1, question VI, p. 41. Back

[25] Clark,Thinking with Demons, p. 117. Back

[26] Clark,Thinking with Demons, p. 117. Back

[27] Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic, p. 523. Back

[28] Perkins, A Discourse on the Damned Art of Witchcraft, pp. 167-8. Back

[29] Perkins, A Discourse on the Damned Art of Witchcraft, p. 168-180. In this pamphlet, Perkins goes so far as to use the indefinite pronoun “he or she” when referencing the witch. Back

[30] Richard Bernard, A Guide to Grand Jury Men, 1627, p. 91. Back

[31] Gaskill, “The Devil in the Shape of a Man”, p. 147. Back

[32] Thomas Ady,A Candle in the Dark, or A Treatise Concerning the Nature of Witches and Witchcraft, London, 1655, pp.12-13. Back

[33] Ady, A Candle in the Dark , p. 36. Back

[34] Thomas Cooper,The Mystery of Witchcraft, London, 1617, p. 181. Back

[35] Nathanael Homes , Daemonologie and Theologie, 1650, p. 34-5. Back

[36] Jim Sharpe, “The Devil in East Anglia: the Matthew Hopkins Trials Reconsidered”, in Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe , Jonathan Barry, Marianne Hester, and Gareth Roberts (eds), Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1996, p.249. Back

[37] Joseph Klaits, Servants of Satan: the Age of the Witch Hunts, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1985, p. 82.Back

[38] Calendar of Assize Records: Essex Indictments, Elizabeth I, J.S. Cockburn (ed.), Her Majesty’s Stationary Office, London, 1978, no. 95. Back

[39] Assize Records, no. 1704. Back

[40] Apps and Gow, Male Witchcraft, p. 49. Back

[41] Perkins, A Discourse on the Damned Art of Witchcraft, p. 173-4. Back

[42] Barbara Rosen (ed.),Witchcraft in England, 1558-1618 , University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst, 1991, p. 198. Back

[43] Rosen (ed.),Witchcraft in England, p. 199. Back

[44] Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic, p. 678. Back

[45] Kramer and Sprenger, Malleus, part 1, question VI, p.47. Back

[46] Bernard, A Guide to Grand Jury Men, p. 225. Back

[47] Barstow, Witch-craze, p. 142. Back

[48] Bernard, A Guide to Grand Jury Men, pp. 237-240. Back

[49] The ‘boots’ was a device wherein the prisoner’s legs were held in iron tubes, and wedges hammered in between the flesh and metal. Back

[50] Rosen (ed.), Witchcraft in England, pp. 198-202. Back

[51] Sharpe, “The Devil in East Anglia,” p. 241. Back

[52] Cooper, The Mystery of Witchcraft , p.181. Back

[53] Ady, A Candle in the Dark, p.16. Back

[54] This case has been thoroughly covered in Gaskill, “The Devil in the Shape of a Man”, pp. 142-171. Back

[55] Gaskill, “The Devil in the Shape of a Man”, p. 152. Back

[56] Gaskill, “The Devil in the Shape of a Man”, p. 154. Back

[57] Gaskill, “The Devil in the Shape of a Man”, p. 158. Back

[58] Gaskill, “The Devil in the Shape of a Man”, p.156. Back

[59] George Gifford, A Discourse of the Subtill Practises of Devilles by Witches and Sorcerers, 1587, ch.8. For further discussion about familiars in English witchcraft see Keith Thomas,Religion and the Decline of Magic, pp. 530-1. Back

[60] Thomas,Religion and the Decline of Magic, pp. 256. Back

[61] Sharpe, “The Devil in East Anglia,” p. 241; Keith Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic, pp. 619. Back

[62] Bernard, A Guide to Grand Jury Men, p.159. Back

[63] For more on this theory see Perkins, A Discourse on the Damned Art of Witchcraft, pp.10-11; Bernard, A Guide to Grand Jury Men, p.155. Back

[64] Gaskill, “The Devil in the Shape of a Man”, pp. 151-2. Back

[65] A Briefe Description of the Notorious Life of John Lambe, Amsterdam, 1628.Back

[66] Rushton, “Women, Witchcraft, and Slander”, pp. 121-2. Back

[67] Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic, p.609. Back

[68] Perkins, A Discourse on the Damned Art of Witchcraft, p.9. Also, see Bernard, A Guide to Grand Jury Men, p.92.Back

[69] Scot, The Discoverie of Witchcraft, p. 7. Back

[70] Bernard, A Guide to Grand Jury Men, pp. 94-5. Back

[71] Cooper, The Mystery of Witchcraft, p. 340. Back

[72] Ady, A Candle in the Dark, pp. 12-13. Back

[73] Rosen (ed.),Witchcraft in England, pp. 199-200; Gaskill, “The Devil in the Shape of a Man”, p. 155. Back

[74] Diane Purkiss,Witch in History, chapters 4, 6. Back

[75] Rushton, “Women, Witchcraft, and Slander”, pp. 130-1. Back