Retrato do autor

Reginald Scot (–1599)

Autor(a) de A Discovery of Witchcraft

4+ Works 236 Membros 3 Críticas

About the Author

Includes the name: Reginald Scot

Obras por Reginald Scot

Associated Works

The Penguin Book of Witches (2014) — Contribuidor — 387 exemplares
A Lycanthropy Reader: Werewolves in Western Culture (1986) — Contribuidor — 158 exemplares


Conhecimento Comum

Data de nascimento
c. 1538
Data de falecimento



This is a collection of primary sources from the 16th century. I purchased this book some 20 years ago for a course I took and never read it. This read is part of my on-going (and quite successful) attempt to rid my shelves of old, unread books. This was a good read about what people thought concerning witches and witchcraft in England. Even in witchcraft, the double-standard for men vs. women was evident. For example, if a man slept with a woman (not his wife), then she was a witch and enticed him, over which he had no control. If a woman groaned in her sleep, that meant that an incubus spirit had sex with her while she slept and that she had bidden him do so through her dreams. Interesting to note that King James I banned this book as being irrelevant. 320 pages… (mais)
Tess_W | 2 outras críticas | Sep 17, 2023 |
Reginald Scot, who King James called "damnable", was notorious for denouncing witchcraft. He was also a man of faith but this made his arguments all the more effective and infuriating. While he believed that people can be "cooseners" or imposters, and that women were more vulnerable to superstitious suggestion, he placed the majority of the blame on the courts. He especially despised the Malleus Maleficarum and Bodin, attacking them directly. He also breaks down common biblical arguments, such as the Witch of Endor and the tale of Job. Since this is a primary source, I'll be sharing only some points.

- That these types of "witches" are not at all mentioned in the Bible, and those that say that a witch has divine power (i.e. controlling the weather) is "in heart a blasphemer, an idolator, and full of gross impiety." (Scot pulls no punches)

- That the testimonies of "condemned or infamous persons" is good and allowable in matters of witchcraft" but not so otherwise. (illegal procedures)

- "If more ridiculous or abominable crimes could have been invented, these poor women should have been charged with them." (against scapegoating)

- "The poor old witch is commonly unlearned, unwarned and unprovided...Christ did clearly remit Peter...therefore I see not but we may show compassion..."

-"But these [witches] being daunted with authorie...compelled by fear...are brought unto these absurd confessions" and "this is insufficient to take away a life." (against torture)

-That a witch can attack a king or "overthrowe an armie...I answer, that...princes...take unjust wars, using engines [just] as unlawful and devilish" (hypocrisy of kings)

- That "our minds and soules are spiritual things," so if a demon comes in human form with greater powers, "does the devils handiwork exceed that of God?"

- Women are condemned for lying with an incubus but if a man cheats "it were a good excuse to saie they were bewitched." (against double-standard)
… (mais)
asukamaxwell | 2 outras críticas | Sep 4, 2022 |
After just having read Philip Sidney’s Astrophel and Stella; a collection of love poetry written by a courtier to Queen Elizabeth, with its carefully chosen imagery and language that would appeal to the higher echelons of society, it was like taking a cold shower to read Scots book, which delves into the underbelly of Tudor England. Scots book was certainly not aimed at common people many of whom could not read, but it was aimed at the class of people that would have dealings with them, either professionally or through religion.

Reginald Scot published his discoverie of witchcraft in 1584. It was a book that purported to be against the practice of witches, but comes perilously close to being a textbook of witch-craft. Cornelius Agrippa had published his Occult Philosophy: Natural Magic some fifty years earlier, in which he had written details of arcane practices that he thought provided clues to the mysteries of life. Reginald Scot writes in similar detail with many additions from other works, but says that these are fables, old wives tales or complete rubbish written to influence gullible people. Scot was writing at the start of a phase of renewed persecutions against witches or wise women and it is clear in his view that the renewed drive against poor, simple, mostly elderly women was a campaign against some of the most vulnerable people in society.

Scot claims that his book is written to celebrate the glory and power of God, because all of the wonderful, dangerous, magical powers that witches are claimed to posses could not possibly exist because such powers can only be used and known by God. The power of God as detailed in the bible is the only supernatural power there is and it does not need the foolish ‘trumperie’ of magical charms, spells, and other paraphernalia that is associated with witches. Scot was a protestant reformer and he delights in equating the practices of witchcraft with the practices of the catholic church. He sees no difference between the two and goes on to say that the catholic church’s use of relics, and the mysticism of its services is similar to witchcraft in that it relies on the ignorance and naivety of people for its success.

The majority of Scots book is a recycling of, or translations from other sources. Particularly Jean Bodin’s Daemonomania and Malleus Maleficarum by Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Springer; he also uses many stories and examples from the Bible as well as classical literature. His method of working is to transcribe these items in some detail and then to dismiss them as nonsense or absurd or attempts to usurp the power of God. There are 26 volumes amounting to over 600 pages of modern text for those people who like to dwell in such matters, most of the time I skimmed, looking for relevance to life in Tudor England. Scot only gives a few examples of witchcraft practised in England, but there are more examples of stories from the continent.

The book covers: the power of witches; spells, transformations, charms, with a section that warns readers who are loathe to read bawdy or filthy stories to skip over that part. It covers the Cabala and the power words used by the Jews, it covers miracles and oracles, alchemy, conjuration, powers of the angels devils and spirits, and a long section on magic tricks and how they work. It ends with a strong refutation of most of what has gone before.

I suppose because the book is full of superstitions, of knavery, sharp practices and spiritualistic manifestations and it was extremely popular in Tudor England is comment enough on the society at that time. King James later ordered copies of the book to be burnt, but that was because of its fierce anti-catholic stance and his own belief that witchcraft was a problem in early seventeenth century England. A book to dip into perhaps, but most of it sounds preposterous to me and I think it will for the majority of readers today 2.5 stars.
… (mais)
2 vote
baswood | 2 outras críticas | Jan 8, 2019 |

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