Witches: A Century of Murder (Documentary)


I found the documentary, “Witches: A Century of Murder” on Netflix.  It covered the witch trials in Great Britain and discussed some of the key players.  The two I found most interesting were King James and Matthew Hopkins.

King James published his book, “Demonology” in 1597 and it quickly become a popular guide for dealing with the perceived witch crisis.

King James studied naturalism and philosophy.  His book focused on how to determine if evidence was reliable and how to conduct rational arguments concerning the evidence.  He believed in witches and wanted to ensure the evil witches were punished.  However, he also wanted to protect the innocent people that may be accused of witchcraft.

Unfortunately, the people of his day were extremely superstitious and paranoid.  A book written by the king and proclaiming the reality of witches sent the population into a frenzy.  His book was used as an excuse to torture and murder countless innocent victims.

Another influential person during this time was Matthew Hopkins.  He was a self-proclaimed Witch Hunter General.  Matthew Hopkins traveled all around England to find, torture, and ensure the execution of witches.

The towns paid a fee to Hopkins for every witch that was executed.  Obviously, this payment method paved the way to a gross miscarriage of justice.

Matthew Hopkins was particularly brutal when touring his victims and the torture continued until the victim confessed or died.  Even those used to the common torture methods of the day were appalled by his behavior.

Eventually, the tide started to turn on Matthew Hopkins.  He was no longer seen as a godly man doing the Lord’s work, instead people realized he was an evil man out to make money.

Matthew Hopkins developed tubercles and died before being brought to trial, so he was never punished for his crimes.


10 thoughts on “Witches: A Century of Murder (Documentary)

  1. I’ve studied our dear Puritans of Massachusetts 1600’s. Devout in their Christian faith yet still bound by Medieval fears and superstitions. The Salem Witch Trials are such a dark chapter in that history but they tried ever so hard to keep evil out of their communities some became irrational in that effort. There are NT stories of Jesus casting out demons from people and OT stories of God’s wrath when Israelites allowed evil in their midst so seems the Puritans felt bound to protect themselves and to obey God’s apparent ordinances re ridding the Christian faith and their community of evil influence from witches. And Paul preached repeatedly that there would be those that would misrepresent Christ and would tempt them with lies and calls to misdirection. So I think they really tried to discern if people were witches but took time to realize the error of such thinking. These irrational and criminal persecutions are driven by fear.

    And the Puritans had so much to fear on a daily basis: possible invasion from the French, from the Spanish, from the Indians, God’s wrath, Satan’s machinations, and the demons and spirits that inhabited to forests in the night. Fear still drives society today resulting in persecution and mistrust of others by otherwise well meaning people.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting. How long did it take people to realize that Hopkins was just out for the money? Seems obvious to us, but, I guess when you are scared of something and someone can eliminate the threat, you’ll do just about anything and not really think about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ll share an excerpt from my book concerning these accusations.

    “While the Salem Witch Trials introduced the ‘new world’ to Spectral Evidence, it had already been used years earlier in England. It was introduced as a secular statute during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I in 1558. The statute stated that all who, “use, practice, or exercise any witchcraft, enchantment, charm or sorcery, whereby any person shall happen to be killed or destroyed…shall suffer pains of death. Some speculation exists concerning the initial cause of the witch trials however, there is no question as to the greed involved as a sustaining force and byproduct of the process. If an accused person confessed, he or she would lose their property to the church. For this reason, landowners were usually the prominent individuals accused of witchcraft and the majority were convicted (or confessed) due to a ‘preponderance’ of Spectral Evidence. This seems like “Cerca Trova” without evidence. Spectral evidence refers to a witness testimony that the accused person’s spirit or spectral shape appeared to him/her witness in a dream at the time the accused person’s physical body was at another location.”

    Sanctum of Shadows Volume III: Spiritus Occultus


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