Royal Witches: Witchcraft and the Nobility in Fifteenth-Century England

October 31, 2020
Royal Witches: Witchcraft and the Nobility in Fifteenth-Century England

The stories of four royal women, their lives intertwined byfamily and bound by persecution, unravel the history of witchcraftin fifteenth-century England.Until the mass hysteria of the seventeenth century, accusationsof witchcraft in England were rare. However, four royal women,related in family and in court ties—Joan of Navarre, EleanorCobham, Jacquetta of Luxembourg and Elizabeth Woodville—wereaccused of practicing witchcraft in order to kill or influence theking.Some of these women may have turned to the "dark arts" in orderto divine the future or obtain healing potions, but the purpose ofthe accusations was purely political. Despite their status, thesewomen were vulnerable because of their gender, as the men aroundthem moved them like pawns for political gains.In Royal Witches, Gemma Hollman explores the lives andthe cases of these so-called witches, placing them in thehistorical context of fifteenth-century England, a setting rifewith political upheaval and war. In a time when the line betweenscience and magic was blurred, these trials offer a tantalizinginsight into how malicious magic would be used and would latercause such mass hysteria in centuries to come.