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5. Torture and Confessions
About this Lecture
In this module, we think about the use of torture in the interrogation of those accused to witchcraft, focusing in particular on: (i) the limited extent to which 'torture' was permitted under English law; (ii) the more extensive use on torture on the continent; (iii) the different methods of torture used against those accused of witchcraft – the strappado, the rack, the iron chair, etc.; (iv) the effectiveness of torture in getting the accused to confess their crimes; and (v) why some people willingly confessed to witchcraft.
In this course, Professor Suzannah Lipscomb (University of Roehampton) explores the history of witchcraft and witch-hunting in Europe and the United States in the period 1450-1750. In the first module, we think about belief in witches and witchcraft. After that, we think about how and why mere belief in witchcraft turned into actual prosecutions (and executions) from the later 15th century onwards, before turning in the third module to consider where accusations of witch-craft actually came from. Under what circumstances might one accuse someone of being a witch? In the fourth module, we think about the extent to which the witch-trials of the period 1450-1750 were 'gendered', while in the fifth we think about the practice of using torture to extract 'confessions' from those accused of witchcraft. Finally, in the sixth module, we think about why witch trials came to an end when they did, and the extent to which belief in witchcraft and witch-hunting remains a reality today.
Professor Suzannah Lipscomb MA, MSt, DPhil (Oxon), F.R.Hist.S., FHEA, is an historian, author, broadcaster, and award-winning professor of history at the University of Roehampton. Her research focuses on the sixteenth century, both on English and French history. She works on Henry VIII and the early Tudor court, and is especially interested in the intersection of religious, gender, political, social, and psychological history. Her recent publications include The Voices of Nîmes: Women, Sex and Marriage in Reformation Languedoc (2019), Witchcraft, a Ladybird Expert book (2018) and The King is Dead: The Last Will and Testament of Henry VIII (2015).
Cite this Lecture
Lipscomb, S. (2021, February 26). Witchcraft and Witch-Trials, c. 1450-1750 - Torture and Confessions [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://www.massolit.io/courses/witchcraft-and-witch-trials-c-1450-1750/torture-and-confessions
Lipscomb, S. "Witchcraft and Witch-Trials, c. 1450-1750 – Torture and Confessions." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 26 Feb 2021, https://www.massolit.io/courses/witchcraft-and-witch-trials-c-1450-1750/torture-and-confessions