This book asks several deceptively simple questions—how and why did English witchcraft cases work in law, how were those cases proved, and what were the rules that included and excluded particular kinds of evidence? The published examples which Darr uses, derived entirely from printed accounts, are not new, but their deployment with these questions in mind certainly is. She also surveys, in parallel with the cases, the background of contemporary discourses around witchcraft and legal proofs. The bulk of the study is a detailed analysis of the kinds of tests, proofs, and other evidentiary material that was taken seriously in courts, as well as the debates about their reliability.

This represents an interesting step in English witchcraft studies. Because of the paucity of legal documentation surviving in England from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, much of the early work on witchcraft either relied on published debates or examined the bald...

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