Elite and Popular Conceptions of Witchcraft

1038 WordsAug 7, 20065 Pages
Elite and Popular Perspectives of Witchcraft The elite perspective is the perspective of those in power. It may be the perspective of the monarchy but it may also be administrative/judicial or that of the church. Popular conceptions are those held by the common people. These two perspectives were not very distinctive because the elite and common people did not live completely separate lives from one another – there was some mixing of culture, and thus there were many similarities in the conceptions held. The main differences between the popular and elite beliefs were regarding the type of accusation of witchcraft: the common people tended to make accusations of maleficium whereas the elites made accusations based on diabolism.…show more content…
This clearly shows the difference between the elite and popular beliefs regarding witchcraft. The Daemonologie dialogue was written by King James who resided on both the thrones of Scotland and England and depicts the opinions of two people: one who does not believe in witchcraft and the other, a physician, who claims to have been a witch. Although this is a dialogue it is not a true event, but a story. James ' purpose in writing Daemonologie was to depict a non-believer and a witch in a conversation, to answer any questions that the non-believer may have had about witches in order to prove that witches do exist. Perhaps this is to answer questions that common non-believers would likely ask a believer. It is not really a useful source as it is merely the King 's opinion of the common people and not necessarily the true opinion of the common people at that time. Therefore any instances regarding witches in the King 's story can only be considered an elite belief as it is solely his opinion. Many of the acts associated with witches that are prevalent in the literature on this subject seem to be of a diabolical nature. The primary cause of this is that the elites had access to a literary medium which tended to leave behind sources that the historian can access in a more direct manner than the mainly oral traditions of popular culture (p. 61 course manual). These oral traditions were the primary means of conveyance for these

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