Chapter

Counterfeit beggars, bogus cunning folk and bigamists

Tobias B. Hug

in Impostures in Early Modern England

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print February 2010 | ISBN: 9780719079849
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781702413 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7228/manchester/9780719079849.003.0002
Counterfeit beggars, bogus cunning folk and bigamists

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This chapter examines counterfeit beggars, bigamists and bogus cunning folk in early modern England. It argues that descriptions of false beggars and vagabonds from the late Middle Ages indicate a change in perception of the phenomenon and (re-)introduced motifs which can be found in representations throughout the early modern period. The chapter explains that cunning men and women were often labelled impostors, not because their claims were held irrational and superstitious, but because they had misused belief and trust in the real power of other practitioners. It also discusses the strategies of bigamists and polygamists inveigling their future bride or groom, and highlights the similarities among these types of people, suggesting that they all represented a threat to social order.

Keywords: counterfeit beggars; bogus cunning folk; bigamists; polygamists; England; social order

Chapter.  8353 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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