To continue with the Halloween/Witches theme for October, I will be sharing Witch Hunt: A Century of Murder. This program is presented by Suzannah Lipscomb narrates program. There are scenes of violence and torture in this documentary. This documentary should be shown to older students.
Scotland is where the witch-hunting began. Queen Anne was coming to Scotland. She had just married King James and was sailing from Denmark to make her home in Scotland. However, the journey proved treacherous. One ship sunk and the ship Queen Anne was sailing on nearly capsized. She returned to Denmark. King James decided to go to Denmark to bring her back. Not only did he bring a bride back but he brought back something else.
At the time the Danes were influenced to hunt out witches. The church seemed to back this hunting wish idea. Witches were the devil’s handmaidens and bent on doing destruction. While in Denmark, King James came face to face with that reality. While he was in the Danish Court, two witches were arrested and put on trial. They confessed to causing the sea storm to kill the Scottish King and the new Scottish Queen. This shocked him however he carried on, bringing his new wife back to Scotland. He would have continued to carry on if it was not for David Seaton.
David Seaton was the deputy bailiff in a Scottish town. He caught his servant girl slipping out of his house late at night. Gilles Duncan was the young servant girl. She had suddenly acquired healing powers and had been sneaking out at night. He thought she had made a pact with the devil and was determined to prove it. She promised she was not a witch. However, Seaton tormented her into confessing. Her fingers were crushed. She refused to confess to being a witch even as her fingers were crushed. Seaton pressed further, tying ropes around her head to wrench it. She still did not confess to something she did not do.
She was not broken and Seaton hardened his torture. It was only when he discovered a mark on her neck did Gilles confessed. What about this mark that made her finally confess to witchcraft? Was it shame? No matter what, her confession was the first in Scottish history. She was brought to prison and kept there. She gave up eight names of wishes. One hundred supposed witches were arrested and tortured. Additionally, she confessed that her coven was in league with the Danish witches who wanted to kill King James. This was the case that made King James realize that there were witches in his kingdom and thus kicking off witch-hunting in Scotland. He became involved in the case.
Agnes Sampson was one of the “witches” arrested. She was a midwife. She was tortured. She confessed to witchcraft. She was brought to King James to be interrogated. She repeated the confession to King James. King James seemed skeptical at first. King James was a widely read king and was inspired by rationality and rational examination. He denounced her as a liar. However, she whispered something to King James that made him change his mind. It was enough to convince him to believe that she was a witch. Why did Agnes say this statement to the king? Did she want to scare him? Or was did she want to end her suffering?
King James ordered that her torture be ended as a result of this confession. Agnes Sampson was executed as a witch. Several other witches were executed as well. These were people scared out of their wits, who wanted to end their torture. They were garroted and burned to death. These executions were only the beginning…
Continue to watch Witch Hunt: A Century of Murder to learn more about witch-hunting. Learn how witch-hunting had the King’s stamp of approval. Learn how witch-hunting ended up in England as well.
You can access the YouTube Video here.
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