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Person :: History 229: The Age of the Witch Hunts

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Giovanni Pico and Humanists’ Skeptical Approach to Witchcraft

Mirandola was the birthplace of Giovanni Pico. He was an Italian Renaissance thinker who spent most of his life traveling to Florence and Rome. He published many works, including “Oration on the Dignity of Man” (1486) in which he justified the importance of the human quest for knowledge within a Neoplatonic framework. He espoused the […]

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Tereshka Malakurov

Tereshka Malakurov was a notable figure in the Lukh trials. He was one of the first to be accused, likely due to his well-known presence in the town as a magical healer. In the interrogation prior to torture, he denied bewitching anyone as well as healing the sick with supernatural power. Upon his first round of […]

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King James VI

King James the VI played an important role in the legal development of witch trials in Scotland. He did not show a large interest in witch until the early 1590s. When his bride to be, Princess Anne of Denmark, was unable to reach Scotland due to storms and other difficulties on the ship the king […]

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Sir George Mackenzie

Sir George Mackenzie was born in 1636 and worked as a Scottish lawyer and judge. He was known for expressing skepticism in certain witch trials. However, he believed that the devil had the power to inflict and cure diseases, and he thought the devil could transport witches to the Sabbath. He acquitted several witches during his time as a […]

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David Cowan

David Cowan lived in Prestonpans, Scotland. He worked as a drummer and witch-pricker, particularly from 1678 to 1679. He was involved in at least six known witchcraft cases. In five of these trials he pricked the accused witches to check for devil’s marks, and in the sixth trial he served as an investigator. According to Scottish law, torture […]

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Tempel Anneke

Tempel Anneke was a widowed older woman accused of witchcraft just outside of Brunswick, Germany in 1663.  This trial is one of the later trials in Germany.  A very detailed account of the trials is available and allows for great analyse of the court procedures.  Tempel Anneke was widowed by her husband in the Thirty […]

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Thomas Ady

Thomas Ady was an English Skeptic who drew on the works of Reginald Scot and others to argue the fallacy of witchcraft.  He wrote 3 books credited to him with the most famous by far being A Candle in the Dark: Or, A Treatise Concerning the Nature of Witches & Witchcraft: Being Advice to Judges, […]

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Matthew Hopkins

  Matthew Hopkins was born c. 1620 at Wenham town England and died on August 12th 1647.  There is not much information about Hopkins before he began his witch hunter career in 1644.  From the way he presented himself in cases he said he used to be a practicing lawyer but there is not much […]

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Maren Spliid

Maren Spliids is the most notorious alleged witch from Denmark. She was born circa 1600 and was killed November 9, 1641. She lived in Ribe in Jutland where she was married to a successful tailor and ran an inn in one of her husband’s houses. She was accused of witchcraft by Didrik the tailor, a […]

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Queen Christina of Sweden

 Fig. 1 Queen Christina of Sweden was born in 1626, ruled Sweden from 1644-1654, and died in 1689. She was an excellent politician and kept Sweden from falling into civil war during the Thirty Years War because of class rivalries. Christina was also well educated and cultured which helped contribute the success of her ten […]

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