During the Elizabethan Era, many strange superstitions became common around Europe. Some of these are still evident in society today. Why do people think that black cats mean bad luck? Why do people say “God bless you,” after somebody sneezes? And what does this have to do with ghosts? During the Shakespearean time period, superstitions were caused by the creation of ghost stories, provoked greatly by plays, and were blamed for misfortune.
Witchcraft, the practice of magic with the use of spells, herbs, and satanic work, was fairly prominent in Elizabethan England. The Elizabethan Era reign lasted from 1558 to 1603, and was during Queen Elizabeth's reign. Witches and witchcraft were usually the target of blame during this time, because they were the outcasts. Witches, the Chelmsford Witch trials, and many superstitions are all based off of witchcraft.
The belief in witchcraft was a widespread epidemic in 16th century England. Elizabethans struggled to explain the cause of unnatural occurrences such as disease and famine due to a lack of scientific knowledge and consequently formed the belief that witches were a causation of such disasters. The witches were also accused of heresy and considered a threat to the ‘Christendom’. The victims of these accusations were often old impoverished women who were believed to have put charms and spells on people to control them. An example of this is the witches of Warboys trial (1593) in which a 76 year old woman, Alice, her husband, and daughter were accused of witchcraft by Jane the daughter of Robert Throckmorton. Subsequently a pamphlet named The Most
Many Elizabethan bedsides were haunted from “the terrors of the night”. Back then their ghosts were nothing like the pasty blobs we call ghosts now. Theirs were quite gruesome. Ghostly visitations were claimed to have been very unpleasant. Not only this, but they claimed it cast them into a state of spiritual confusion.
The Elizabethan Era is often referred to as the Golden Age of England (A Changing View...). The Elizabethan Era, named after Queen Elizabeth I, was a time of change and discovery (Elizabethan Superstitions). Elizabeth ruled in a time of religious turmoil; both the Catholics and Protestants fought to be the official religion of England. (Elizabethan World View). Many people throughout England struggled to find the “correct” religion (Elizabethan World View). Religion was changing and so did science. During the late 1500’s science began to evolve; new ideas, concepts, and beliefs were starting to emerge (A Changing View). Magic was considered to be very similar to science in this era. The belief in magical creatures served as the roots for
In the early period (16th-18th centuries), the mentality and way of thinking of people living there and their vision of the world was largely based on a strong belief in supernatural phenomena that directly affected their lives. It was widely believed both: in Divine Providence, the care of the angels, and in the
Over the years, society has created and recreated different ideas of what is considered socially acceptable and what customs to follow on a daily basis. These ideas are constantly changing and renewing themselves, making even last year’s behavioral habits seem crude. For instance, life in Elizabethan England contrasted with how life is now because people acted differently, dressed differently, spoke differently, and in a general, broader sense, they lived differently. Because people grow and change and learn from their previous mistakes, Elizabethan customs are practically obsolete due to their lack of effectiveness or rather the lack of need for them to continue.
Furthermore, Witches were commonplace all over the world with different stigmas and stereotypes attached to them from each respectful culture that contained them (Girard, 1986). It was not until the rise of the Catholic Church that witches soon became associated with black magic and the Devil, leading to mass prosecutions. In the Middle Ages there was a popular belief that demons walked the Earth, leaving disease and devastation in their wake. The church, feeling threatened by the ideologies of Witchcraft, decided to link the old Pagan religion with that of Satanism (Levack, 1987). By doing so, they were able to gather favor from the masses by taking advantage of the fear of the Devil by the public and using it to prosecute those who
There have even been reports of ghosts of historical figures as well. One of the most frequently reported dates back to the 16th century. Mother of Queen Elizabeth I and wife to King Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn was executed at the Tower of London in 1536 after being accused of witchcraft, treason, adultery and incest. There have been sightings of the woman's ghost reported at the tower and other locations such as her home, Hever Castle in Kent. (History.com)
Religion has become a cornerstone of the human experience incorporating itself into almost every aspect of modern life. It has brought understanding and security to billions in a world where both are usually sparse. But, religious conflict has been the source of countless wars, genocides, and overall repression. With thousands of different variations of religions around the world, these times of religious conflict caused each to withstand periods of difficulties allowing them to become what they are today. For example, the Catholic Church faced some of its most prominent changes in early modern Europe with the Reformation and the Age of Enlightenment. These periods of struggle sparked doubt towards the Church and led to one of the most perplexing times in the modern era: the witch craze. Upon the initial presentation of witchcraft, religious leaders began turning to their faith to distinguish between what was right and wrong in the eyes of God. It was quickly presumed to be from the hands of the devil, and that something had to be done with those afflicted by his charms. Spanning from the early fifteenth century to the late eighteenth century, tens of thousands of people across Europe and North America were prosecuted for witchcraft, many of whom were killed. Religious leaders amongst Catholicism and some of its religious denominations such as Protestantism and Puritanism feared the unknown that came with witchcraft and used their religious ideology to justify the
“Dorson explains that ‘providences issued from God and witchcrafts from the devil, and they marked the tide of battle between forces of Christ and the minions of Satan.’” They believed that everything was good or evil and all bad must be evil witchcraft.
At around ten o’clock at night, a young girl was laying in bed when all of a sudden someone started rubbing her cheek. She looked around and no one was there. Was this her imagination, or was someone there? Ghosts always make their presence known, just like the Ghost in the tragedy Hamlet written by William Shakespeare. Throughout the character of the Ghost of Hamlet’s father, Shakespeare portrays many Elizabethan beliefs on ghosts. Shakespeare creates the question: is the ghost good or bad? Many people have their own opinion on this question, but in this writer’s opinion, the Ghost of Hamlet’s father is a good ghost because throughout the tragedy the Ghost of Hamlet’s father never physically hurts anyone, instead he persuades Hamlet
Because of all the little knowledge in the Elizabethan Era, daily lives were impacted, people turned to unusual medical theories which also impacted their everyday lives, and turning points in medicine occur. Little was known about how to treat serious diseases. People turned to different ways to cure themselves based on the kind of sickness they had acquired.
The late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries were marked by political and religious instabilities in both France and Germany, mainly as the result of the Reformation. The political organisation of the Holy Roman Empire made it particularly vulnerable to conflict, as the result of a lack of political unity, there was no central authority actively enforcing power on the several territories that made up the Empire. Trials usually covered small areas and magistrates were relatively free to enforce the law as they pleased.1 The Reformation had particularly shaken the Empire. In a context of confessional state-building, local authorities were competing to impose their religion, either Catholic or Reformed, on their territory. The political conflicts which arose from the Reformation helped create an atmosphere of apprehension and fear that the Apocalypse was near. This made a conspiration of witches led by the Devil was plotting to undermine Christendom plausible to the public.2 Of course, these conflicts and fear did not create witchcraft prosecutions. Witchcraft beliefs had existed since centuries and witches had been tried before, but political and religious instabilities certainly fueled the paranoia of the people and made mass hysteria and panics possible. The existence of a demonic conspiration working against Christendom was supported and accounted for by demonologists, whose works were extremely popular and widely read by the