A defence of witchcraft belief

A sixteenth-century response to Reginald Scot's Discoverie of Witchcraft

Edited by Eric Pudney

A defence of witchcraft belief


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-4776-9
  • Pages: 232
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: February 2021
  • BIC Category: Humanities / Early modern history: c 1450/1500 to c 1700, Religion, History, Early Modern History, History of religion, Witchcraft, United Kingdom, Great Britain, Later 16th century c 1550 to c 1599, European history, RELIGION / Wicca, RELIGION / Christian Theology / Angelology & Demonology, HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain / Tudor & Elizabethan Era (1485-1603), Humanities / History of religion, Humanities / Witchcraft


This is the first published edition of a fascinating manuscript on witchcraft in the collection of the British Library, written by an unknown sixteenth-century scholar. Responding to a pre-publication draft of Reginald Scot's sceptical Discoverie of Witchcraft (1584), the treatise represents the most detailed defence of witchcraft belief to be written in the early modern period in England. It highlights in detail the scriptural and theological justifications for a belief in witches, covering ground that may well have been considered too sensitive for print publications and presenting learned arguments not found in any other contemporary English work. Consequently, it offers a unique insight into elite witchcraft belief dating from the very beginning of the English witchcraft debate. This edition, which includes a comprehensive analytical introduction, presents the treatise with modernised spelling and relevant excerpts from Scot's book.


'In sum, in his excellent introduction to this treatise and in his thoughtful and careful editing of it, Eric Pudney has made a marvellous contribution to the study of early modern English witchcraft. From this point on, further studies of Reginald Scot's The Discoverie of Witchcraft will undoubtedly be indebted to it.'
Philip Almond, Folklore

'Eric Pudney deserves nothing but praise and gratitude for his excellent editorial work, demonstrating this manuscript's complex interaction with Scot's Discoverie and illuminating the origins of both texts. We are very much in his debt.'
Jan Machielsen, Journal of Ecclesiastical History

'Eric Pudney's edition of a hitherto virtually unnoticed anonymous response to Scot's famous The discoverie of witchcraft (1584) [is] extraordinarily significant.'
Stuart Clark, Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft


A defence of witchcraft belief


Eric Pudney is a postdoctoral researcher at Mid-Sweden University

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