ABSTRACT

Early modern demoniacs were diagnosed through a process of negotiation between patient and community. Possession knowledge, then, was locally generated, a function of the space in which it was produced. This article, though, turns to consider the related problem of how a contested possession—one where this dynamic seems to have broken down—was established for a national audience in print. It examines how the author of the 1593 The Most strange and admirable discoverie of the three witches of Warboys, an account of the possession of the five daughters of Robert Throckmorton, endeavored to fashion a credible relation to convince readers that the three witches recently executed for murder by witchcraft were also responsible for the bewitching of the Thockmorton girls. I argue that this was done in a process analogous to diagnosis in situ, with the author establishing for himself a reputable persona, and deploying the rhetorical technique of enargeia in order to craft a beguiling textual spectacle.

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