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

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

by Gemma Hollman


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The stories of four royal women, their lives intertwined by family and bound by persecution, unravel the history of witchcraft in fifteenth-century England.

Until the mass hysteria of the seventeenth century, accusations of witchcraft in England were rare. However, four royal women, related in family and in court ties—Joan of Navarre, Eleanor Cobham, Jacquetta of Luxembourg and Elizabeth Woodville—were accused of practicing witchcraft in order to kill or influence the king.

Some of these women may have turned to the “dark arts” in order to divine the future or obtain healing potions, but the purpose of the accusations was purely political. Despite their status, these women were vulnerable because of their gender, as the men around them moved them like pawns for political gains.

In Royal Witches, Gemma Hollman explores the lives and the cases of these so-called witches, placing them in the historical context of fifteenth-century England, a setting rife with political upheaval and war. In a time when the line between science and magic was blurred, these trials offer a tantalizing insight into how malicious magic would be used and would later cause such mass hysteria in centuries to come.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781643133324
Publisher: Pegasus Books
Publication date: 09/01/2020
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 131,081
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Gemma Hollman has a Master’s degree in Medieval History from the University of York. She runs the Just History Posts blog and Twitter account and has written for the British Numismatic Journal. She lives in Hertfordshire, England.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements 7

Author's Notes 9

Introduction 11

1 Magic in the Late Medieval Period 15

Joan of Navarre

2 Duchess of Brittany 23

3 Our Most Dear Mother 37

4 In the Most Evil and Terrible Manner Imaginable 59

Eleanor Cobham

5 A Very Noble Lady 89

6 From Mistress to Princess 107

7 The Duchess and the Witch of Eye 123

8 Alle Women May Beware By Me 135

Jacquetta of Luxembourg and Elizabeth Woodville

9 Lively, Beautiful and Gracious 159

10 From Woods to Rivers 179

11 A Common Noise of Witchcraft 203

12 The Mother, the Queen and the Mistress 233

13 A Royal Coven of Witches 271

Genealogical Tables 276

Notes 283

Bibliography 305

Index 315

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