Witchfinders: A Seventeenth-Century English Tragedy
In the spring of 1645, at the height of the English Civil War, a minor gentleman from Essex named Matthew Hopkins initiated the most savage witch ... Show synopsis In the spring of 1645, at the height of the English Civil War, a minor gentleman from Essex named Matthew Hopkins initiated the most savage witch-hunt in English history. By the autumn of 1647 at least 250 East Anglian innocents -- most of them women -- had been captured, interrogated and hauled before the courts. More than a hundred were convicted, condemned and hanged. Their alleged crimes ranged from destroying property and inflicting fatal illnesses, to feeding animal familiars with blood and having sexual intercourse with the devil. Accompanied by John Stearne, a godly neighbour from his parish, the twenty-two-year-old Hopkins toured the eastern counties on horseback, meticulously extracting evidence of satanic pacts and dispatching suspects for trial. Hopkins fashioned himself into the 'Witch Finder General' although the torture techniques used had no justification in religion or law, nor was his campaign officially sanctioned. The witch-hunt was an extraordinary event, and would long be remembered as the poisonous fruit of religious extremism, grown wild in a political vacuum, never to be repeated.Witchfinders tells the true and terrible story of Matthew Hopkins and his horrifying crusade as witch-hunting fever gripped the country. Malcolm Gaskill uses his great story-telling talents to bring mid-seventeenth century alive.