Joe Kasti

Malicious History

In the summer of 1590, shortly after returning from Denmark with his new Queen, James VI of Scotland later James I of England, made the decision to attend the trials of several accused witches from the small kirk of North Berwick. The accused attempted to murder James by using witchcraft to sink the ship upon which he had journeyed. James was well known for his curiosity and intellect. This was an opportunity that he could not pass up and so, he attended the trials. This single act would forever change how James would be viewed for centuries to come. Of all the figures that stand out during the witch hunts of Early Modern Europe, none is more noticeable than James VI of Scotland, later James I of England. Although more famous for his commissioning of a translation of the Bible, his involvement in the which trials have an important and dark place in history. James, perhaps due to his station in life, is considered by many to be the most avid of all witch hunters. He has become a sinister figure in the history of witchcraft. In most writings prior to this century, historians burden him with the deaths of thousands of accused witches. Thereafter, James was linked to witch hysteria and steadily gained the reputation of a witch persecutor. According to many historians, James' attendance of the trials was the beginning of the revitalization of witch hysteria, which had been dying out over the last twenty years of English history. He gained the reputation of an obsessed king determined to find and persecute witches.
91 printed pages
Original publication


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