Sexual and spiritual politics in the events of 1633–34 and <i>The Late Lancashire Witches</i>

Alison Findlay

in The Lancashire Witches

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print January 2003 | ISBN: 9780719062032
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781700150 | DOI:
Sexual and spiritual politics in the events of 1633–34 and The Late Lancashire Witches

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This chapter outlines the sexual and spiritual politics in the 1634 case and shows how it came to be adapted for the London stage after some of the victims were brought to London for questioning. The stories told against them were invented, but they were effective because they expressed common attitudes and drew on still-current memories of the events of 1612, fictions that were again circulated in the 1634 play. They were refashioned around themes such as disruptive women, transgressive sexual energy, and social inversion. Religious politics formed the background to the 1612 trials, but a generation later things had moved on. Not popery but Puritanism and the ritualistic high Anglicanism of the 1630s were the targets of its even-handed satire; and whilst the witches were still the object of real fears and fascinations, they were beginning to become figures of fun.

Keywords: transgressive sexual energy; spiritual politics; social inversion; disruptive women; London stage; sexual politics

Chapter.  9970 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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