The Discovery of Witchcraft

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Date: 1603

Region: Europe

Subject: Religious

Medium: Literature


Artist: Reginald Scott (c.1538-1599)

Confronting Bodies: King James I

Dates of Action: 1603

Location: England

Description of Artwork: The Discovery of Witchcraft, wherein the Lewde dealing of Witches and Witchmongers is notablie detected, in sixteen books … whereunto is added a Treatise upon the Nature and Substance of Spirits and Devils was written in 1584 against the belief in witches, to show that witchcraft did not exist. Part of its content exposes how (apparently miraculous) feats of magic were done, and the book is often deemed the first textbook on conjuring. Scott held that the prosecution of those accused of witchcraft was contrary to the dictates of reason as well as of religion, and he placed the responsibility at the door of the Roman Catholic Church.

The Incident: In 1586 a decree of the Star Chamber greatly tightened the censorship laws. On the accession of James I in 1603 all obtainable copies of The Discovery of Witchcraft... were burned.

Results of Incident: Remaining copies of The Discovery of Witchcraft are now rare.

Source: Banned Books 387 B.C. to 1978 A.D., by Anne Lyon Haight, and Chandler B. Grannis, R.R. Bowker Co, 1978; Wikipedia