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George Gifford - A
Dialogue Concerning Witches and Witchcrafts
Paperback, xvii + 64pp.
Edited by S. F. Davies
'These witches, these evil favoured old witches do trouble me...'
George Gifford's Dialogue Concerning Witches and Witchcrafts is one of the earliest pieces of writing on witchcraft in English, and one of the most unique. Rather than relying on the more established continental demonology, Gifford incorporates everyday English folk beliefs, and what were presumably his own experiences of witchcraft trials as a priest in Maldon, Essex, into a tract that is both an exposition of commonly held beliefs, and a work of polemic intricately concerned with the practical needs of the preacher and his parish. Notable for being more liberal than many of his contemporaries, warning juries and the judiciary to be on their guard against the deceptions of the Devil, Gifford is nevertheless also eager to instigate more stringent laws against the practises of so-called 'cunning' folk, practitioners of ostensibly beneficial magic, who in Gifford's view also worked with the aid of the Devil. An exemplar of the Tudor prose dialogue, Gifford's Dialogue provides a fascinating insight into both English witchcraft beliefs at the end of the sixteenth century, and life in the parish for everyday Elizabethans.
This edition, in modern spelling, includes an introduction, bibliographical details of the Dialogue, explanatory notes, a full bibliography, and an index.
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