Structure[ edit ] King James wrote a dissertation titled Daemonologie that was first sold in , several years prior to the first publication of the King James Authorized Version of the Bible. Within three short books James wrote a philosophical dissertation in the form of a Socratic dialogue for the purpose of making arguments and comparisons between magic , sorcery and witchcraft , but wrote also his classification of demons. In writing the book, King James was heavily influenced by his personal involvement in the North Berwick witch trials from Following the execution of a notorious sorcerer in the year , the news of the trials was narrated in a news pamphlet titled Newes from Scotland and was included as the final chapter of the text. The book endorses the practice of witch hunting in a Christian society.
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But neither of them as yet have led to the mass persecution of probably innocent people quite like Daemonologie. It was published again in in England. Daemonologie holds the dubious honour of being the only book in history written by a monarch about witchcraft. So as ever, hit play to hear the audio version of the post. Or keep reading! He wrote it as a treatise intended to prove the existence of both. But he also added preferred punishments for these practices. Daemonologie comes in three sections.
The first deals with magic and necromancy. Book 2 focuses on witchcraft and sorcery, while the third book is about spirits and spectres. Bits of the witchcraft scenes in Macbeth come from the book — e. But the British Library points out that Shakespeare makes Macbeth the villain.
Aside from their prophecies. Not persuading people they existed. And he included non-magical reasons for things happening. This was an era in which people were encouraged to be charitable. Scot pointed at neighbours turning away an old woman in need. After doing so, that neighbour could make accusations to ease their own guilty conscience.
James wanted to set himself up as a spiritual warrior. So why did King James write Daemonologie? Back in , James was still just King of Scotland. His advisors arranged his marriage to Anne of Denmark. Anne tried to set sail to reach Scotland. But a huge storm rose up and forced her back. Desperate to prove his masculinity, James set off to fetch her himself. Another storm blew up and James grew convinced the storm had unnatural origins. King James I. The Danish witch-hunts went back to their conversion from Catholicism to Lutheranism in It led to witch hunts around the country.
Their official trials began in They first burned a witch at the stake in According to Jimmy Fyfe, around witches stood trial in Denmark. Half of them were executed A group of women were rounded up in North Berwick.
People accused them of the witchcraft that raised the storm. Some 70 people ended up dragged into the affair. Under torture, the suspects admitted to all sorts of spells. They included strapping severed body parts to dead cats and tossing them into the sea. James order the main suspect, Agnes Sampson, to Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh for questioning. During questioning, Agnes allegedly repeated what James had said to Anne in private on their wedding night. He commissioned a pamphlet designed at provoking fear of witches.
But then he decided to go one step further, and write a book. Not only did Daemonologie paint witches as evil, it also promoted his misogynistic views. Part of the edition of the King James Bible. James wrote Daemonologie in the form of a running dialogue. Two characters debate the issues around witchcraft from a mock-philosophical standpoint.
Brett R. Warren notes the importance of their names — Philomathes and Epistemon. Philomathes implies someone who loves to learn and collects knowledge. Epistemon means scientist, and personnifies the concept of epistemology xiii.
He uses the illusion of a balanced argument between the skeptical questions and zealot answers. The format is more engaging and, dare I say it, entertaining. In a way, it was an early version of an FAQ page. James wanted to answer it. Popular belief in all things supernatural meant it was easy to swallow the ideas in Daemonologie. The fact a monarch wrote it made it even more attractive to readers.
Warren points out the inherent supernatural nature of Catholicism. He highlights the importance of religious relics to the faith, such as bones or fragments of cloth associated with them. The Catholic attempt to blow up Parliament with James inside in probably did little to soften his views on religion.
King James takes it one step further Scotland was more superstitious than England. So the witch craze was worse north of the border. They ate up the ideas in Daemonologie. But when James became King of England in , he was horrified. Torture was illegal and the English used hanging, rather than burning. Just keep it to yourself. Only killing or hurting someone using magic carried a punishment for witchcraft. It punished any and all practices of magic. A first offence carried a mandatory death penalty of hanging.
It led to a boom of interest in witches over the coming decade. The famous Pendle witch trial happened in A Pendle Way Waymark. What are we to make of it all? Much of what James wrote became deeply influential.
As these confessions were published, similarities began to appear between confessions. The self-proclaimed witchfinder general Matthew Hopkins credited the book as his inspiration.
Matthew Hopkins, Witch Finder General. From a broadside published by Hopkins before But in the public imagination, the similarity of confessions proved they must be true. And thus the popular image of the witch was born. She became the old woman with her familiar. Watch her throwing out curses left, right and centre for any perceived slight! But magic never goes away. No matter how many incarnations the witch undergoes, she keeps coming back, time and again.
Perhaps she never did, even in the 17th century. Enjoy this post? Accessed 2 August
Daemonologie: Or, How A King Whipped Up a Witch Craze