Matthew Hopkins, the notorious Witchfinder General, was born around 1620, but witchcraft hysteria had been around long before his short but bloody reign. James I and VI of Scotland was born in 1566, inheriting the throne as a baby. This documentary relates how the monarch himself, author of Daemonologie
, launched a war against witchcraft after becoming convinced that a storm had been raised by supernatural means to sink his ship and kill him as he crossed the North Sea with his new bride in May 1590.
James was so fascinated by this that he conducted some of the resulting interrogations himself.
While the torture and judicial murder of harmless women will be well known, perhaps not so well known is that some of these women did indeed practise a form of witchcraft, they were people who would today be regarded as faith healers, and harmless with it.
The documentary covers the Pendle Witch Trials of 1612, proceedings that were so notorious they even have their own dedicated website and domain
Matthew Hopkins gets a mention later, as does his book The Discovery Of Witches
The documentary also has a twist in its tale. Or perhaps that should be tail?
Related by various historians, The King's War On Witches
in the Channel 5 Revealed
series is currently on Demand 5
for those who can receive it. Otherwise watch out for it on YouTube.