What Does Discovery Of Witchcraft Reveal Regarding 16th Century Witchcraft?
Analysis of Reginald Scot’s The Discoverie of witchcraft.
This essay shall analyse Reginald Scot’s The Discoverie of Witchcraft (1584) in its historical context and explore sixteenth century attitudes towards witchcraft. Due to Scot’s radical disbelief regarding the nonexistence of witches during a period with copious church interference propagating all supernatural claims, one had a unique opportunity to explore the reasoning behind the study of witch confessions and the community’s role in the empowerment of witchcraft. Therefore, without the biased fear imposed on by the church, Scott is able to depict events in a nonbiased, logical manner.
Scot’s rejection of traditional communal attitudes towards witchcraft can be interpreted as an attack on the church for the encouraging of witchcraft stereotypes, as a means to defend the church from accusations of sexual Lewdness. ‘How in the night time Incubus came to a ladies bed side, and made hot loove unto hir in the likenesse of the holie bishop Sylvanus. Which holie man was much defamed therebie, untill at the length this infamie was purged by the confession of a divell made at S. Jeroms toombe… thus are lecheries covered with the cloke of Incubus and witchcraft, contrarie to nature and veritie’ (Scot 1584).
Therefore, Scot’s approach to disregard reinforced values of the community and ideas of right and wrong (Sharpe 1996: 59) taught by the…