The Yuletide festivities are well and truly over and shortly the folk of Swords and Spindles will be wending their way to schools near them. Take care good folk of how you doth disport yourselves. Do not be caught muttering to your cat or gathering herbs by moonlight. Malign your neighbours with caution lest you be accused of bewitching them.
Sir Francis is on the prowl in his guise as witchfinder. Thanks to Master Arthur, prop creator extraordinaire, he has new methods of ‘persuasion’ at his disposal; pretty they are not.
Swords and Spindles offer presentations and interactive sessions on seventeenth century witchcraft suitable for schools or adult groups. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, a wave of witchcraft accusations swept Europe and North America, creating an era that became known as ‘The Burning Time’. Few of our ancestors were directly involved in witchcraft trials, either as the accused or the accuser but all of our sixteenth and seventeenth century forbears lived in a world where there was an underlying belief in and fear of, witchcraft. In order to understand those ancestors, we need to be aware that ‘villagers were constantly engaged in contending with, or discussing, witches.’ (MacFarlane, Alan Witchcraft in Tudor and Stuart England: a regional and comparative study 1970 Routledge p.113). This was a climate in which mass hysteria could easily tip the balance and create an atmosphere where our ancestors and their neighbours would become caught up in witchcraft fever. Learn about this era and the sources that we can use to find more. Understand how to protect yourself from witchcraft and how confessions were extracted. What was the psychology behind the flurry of witchcraft accusations at this time? Would you have been accused of being a witch?