March 6, 2008
Demonology and Propaganda in Politics and the Church
The years following the English Reformation of the 16th century were an incredibly unstable time for Christianity. This was a time when Martin Luther brought about an ideological reform of Catholicism so spectacular, both the Catholics and Protestants were in a struggle to convince all hearts to follow what each thought of as the correct form of Christianity. Consequently, there was not an angle overlooked in this battle, including the subjects of demonic possession and witchcraft. Two denominations of Christianity with differing views on how to deal with these malevolent topics, led not only to a generally heightened public interest in these matters, but to further separation of the Church, as well as the public exploitation of the individuals involved; such as in the case of Anne Gunter. Some of this, seemingly, for the benefit of added credibility to the respective faiths and the politics with which they were attached.
The invention of the printing press had a large impact on the general awareness of witchcraft and demonic possession. It was the perfect medium for the strict sects within Catholicism, the Jesuits, and within Protestantism, the Puritans, to convey their messages concerning demonology (74). The first of these were very large, detailed works, such as: A Treatise Against Witchcraft, by Henry Holland, a Puritan divine (75). Although this tract was available to Brian Gunter during the time Anne fell ill, it is not likely one of the sources he consulted for ideas to fake Anne's bewitchment (77). There was, however, a boom of shorter pamphlets that explained certain witch-trials in great detail. The following pamphlet was definitely used by Brian Gunter as reference material to dupe the town of North Moreton: The most strange and admirable discoverie of the three Witches of Warboys arraigned, convicted and executed at the last Assizes at...
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