The Discovery of Witches (Paperback)
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In The Discovery of Witches, Matthew Hopkins - the Witch Finder General of England during the early 1600s - details the process by which he found and captured suspected witches.
Hopkins' treatise is comprised of answers to various queries he had received by members of the public curious about his investigatory techniques in finding witches. This book answers a total of fourteen distinct queries, with replies ranging from a few sentences to a few paragraphs in length.
The book is an illustrative portrayal of society at the time, which was fervently given to superstitions about the powers of witchcraft. At three hundred women killed, the efforts of Hopkins and his assistant John Stearne were prolific: his tenure as Witch Finder General led to more executions by hanging than any other witch finder before or since.
Born to an apparently modest family, Hopkins rose to prominence as a young man. Using his inheritance to gain position as a gentleman, he rapidly gained favor within England's Royal Court, in which he demonstrated his knowledge of witches and their behaviors. He died aged no older than twenty-eight, likely of tuberculosis.
Accorded status as a famous figure, Hopkins encountered opposition to his witch finding. That his 'investigations' required scant evidence to secure death sentences greatly dismayed figures in the Church of England. Today, historians judge Hopkins as an evil man who opportunistically encouraged and took advantage of unfounded suspicions to advance his own reputation and fame.