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Witches: A Tale of Sorcery, Scandal and Seduction by [Borman, Tracy]
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Witches: A Tale of Sorcery, Scandal and Seduction Kindle Edition

3.9 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Product Description


"Gripping… Stirring witchcraft, politics and sexual perversity into the cauldron of a superstitious age, Tracy Borman seasons her brew with suggestions of poisoning and the black arts." (Iain Finlayson The Times)

"Tracy Borman has written a thorough and beautifully researched social history of the early 1600s, taking in everything from folk medicine to James I’s sex life." (Bella Bathurst Observer)

"Spellbinding" (Daily Telegraph)

"Tracy Borman has written a superb history of the witchcraze in early modern Europe focusing around this one case. Her book is enthralling and accurate… In many respects this is a triumph of popular historical writing." (David Wootton Guardian)

"A tantalising history... A panoramic survey of the witch craze that swept through Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries." (John Carey Sunday Times)

Book Description

A tale of bloody witchcraft, which led all the way to James I's right-hand man

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3977 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital (29 Aug. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00CQ1D9YU
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #54,083 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Halloween seemed a good time to read Tracy Borman's account of sorcery in early 17th century England. However, it did not put a spell on me.

The case of the Belvoir witches is discussed briefly by Catherine Bailey in The Secret Rooms: A castle filled with intrigue, a plotting duchess and a mysterious death. I hoped this would be a full account of the tragedy of Joan Flower and her daughters, Margaret and Phillipa. According to the author sources are richer for this case than most, because it involved nobility. She also claims to have uncovered a murderous conspiracy at the heart of the injustice.

In fact no records at all remain of the actual trial and really not much of anything else besides. Reliance is placed on a short anonymous pamphlet of 1620. Tracy Borman admits even this is sensationalist, confusing and contradictory; much of it is probably untrue.

This leaves a lot of space to fill between the book's covers. Some background on the period is essential, of course. There is some interesting stuff in this, too - the life of the Marquess of Buckingham makes for a good section. The author made me realize that at a time of widespread popular belief in magic , the "witches" themselves shared many of the assumptions of their persecutors.

However, of the Belvoir itself she has not got much to say - simply because not much is known. Her promised revelation of a murderous conspiracy is a big let down - speculation gone crazy.

As Hilda Lewis showed a long while back in The Witch and the Priest, there is a novel here, where standards of proof may be relaxed and imagined possibilities created. But you can't write a history book of "possiblies..maybes...we can speculates..could haves.."..
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I purchased this book expecting an unbiased and objective account of the Belvoir witches.Sadly, I was hugely disappointed. Although apparently well researched and written in a clear, accessible style, the author's limited knowledge of witchcraft becomes apparent, resulting in several errors. For example, Henry Holland's 'Treatise against witchcraft' was not the first work published in England, nor was it a pamphlet. Similarly, England did not have the highest proportion of female suspects. However, the worst aspect of the book is that despite the author's bold claim that the 'Machiavellian' George Villiers, then marquis of Buckingham, 'would mastermind a conspiracy that has remained hidden for centuries', no real evidence is provided to back up the claim that he arranged to have the earl of rutland's sickly youngest son done away with. Buckingham was accused of many crimes, and he and his family were derided and lampooned in numerous scurrilous ballads and poems, yet he was never accused of such a crime, nor were there even any rumours, despite being accused of poisoning King James I in 1625, along with his mother, the Countess of Buckingham and Prince Charles, later Charles I; a charge to which few reputable historians give any credence. The supposed evidence is purely circumstantial, and made to fit, presumably, to give more spice to the tale.
I cannot recommend this book, which I found sensationalist and prejudiced. If readers are interested in a work on witchcraft which is accurate and written without bias,then Malcom Gaskill's,'Witchfinder: A seventeenth century English Tragedy' is superb.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Tracy's book is as much about poverty as witchcraft, for the suffering of women often brought them to severe mental illness, when they needed charity not malice. Many were cold-bloodedly murdered, with full sanction of the state. Such a book does make one realise how lucky we are to live in more enlightened times, although we are not entirely out of the wood, for many recent events prove that fanaticism is not dead, and that horror gets ever nearer. Tracy's book teaches us never to glamorize history, for superstition was a pervasive killer; and no less a person that King James was a rabid, merciless witch-hunter. Her book is a historical horror: read once, and never forgotten. Recommended.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After reading her superb books on Henrietta Howard (mistress of George II), Elizabeth's Women (the women whose influence shaped Elizabeth I) and Matilda (the wife of William the Conqueror), I was fascinated by what would happen when Tracy Borman's brilliant and engaging writing style combined with the much darker theme of Witchcraft. The result doesn't disappoint in any way as Borman uses the story of the 'Belvoir Witches' - Joan, Margaret and Philippa Flower - as a window through which to examine the disturbing phenomenon of 'Witchcraft' during the seventeen century. As usual, Borman narrates the story brilliantly building suspense through the way in which the book moves back and forth between dealing with the detail of the Belvoir case and the issue of Witchcraft more generally. The evidence is meticulously presented and carefully examined with all Borman's skill for making the key characters involved really come alive in the mind of the reader. Once you start reading this book you will find it very difficult to put it down - truly 'history as it should be written' as Alison Weir said of 'Elizabeth's Women'. The versatility of Tracy Borman is quite extraordinary and it will be great to see what she turns her formidable mind to next!
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