With the death of the childless Queen Elizabeth I in 1603, the son of Mary Queen of Scots and the reigning King of Scotland became next in line for succession to the English throne
. On 11 July of that year the crowns of Scotland and England were united
as King James VI of Scotland became King James I of England. The Union of the Crowns
was made possible by the the fact that the James VI was protestant, married and had healthy children – heirs to the throne. The English were also comforted by the fact that the Scottish King was a scholar. Among other literary accomplishments, he had authored a number of books on witchcraft. Written in the Socratic form of a dialogue, Dæmonologie
presented a wide-ranging discussion of witchcraft, necromancy, possession, demons, were-wolves, fairies and ghosts.Believed to be the source for the witches Shakespeare's Macbeth
, James I explained that witches could "rayse stromes and tempestes in the aire, either upon land or sea, though not universally; but in such a particular place and prescribed bunds as God will permitte them so to trouble"
In Lancashire, men and beasts were supposed to languish under the charms of the Pendelwitches
who were put on trial in 1612
. Based largely on evidence given by children, twenty people, of which 16 were women, were found guilty of causing death or harm by witchcraft and were hanged.
The sensation produced by these trials was immense, and Thomas Potts, the clerk of the court, was directed by the judges of assize, Sir Edward Bromley and Sir James Altham to collect and publish the evidence and other documents connected with the trial, under the revision of the judges themselves. The resulting book The Wonderfull Discoverie of Witches in the Countie of Lancaster
"The discouerie of witchcraft, wherein the lewde dealing of witches and witchmongers is notablie detected, the knauerie of coniurors, the impietie of inchantors, the follie of soothsaiers, the impudent falshood of cousenors, the infidelitie of atheists, the pestilent practises of Pythonists, the curiositie of figurecasters, the vanitie of dreamers, the beggerlie art of Alcumystrie, the abhomination of idolatrie, the horrible art of poisoning, the vertue and power of naturall magike, and all the conueiances of Legierdemaine and iuggling are deciphered: and many other things opened, which haue long lien hidden,[xiv] howbeit verie necessarie to be known"
The recent discovery of a a 17th Century cottage
, complete with a cat skeleton, during a construction project in Lancashire, sheds new light on matter.
Stunned by the discovery, the United Utilities' project manager, said: "It's not often you come across a fairytale cottage complete with witch's cat."