By Malcolm Gaskill
Crime and the legislations have now been studied via historians of early smooth England for greater than a new release. This booklet makes an attempt to arrive extra than most normal remedies of the topic, to discover the cultural contexts of law-breaking and legal prosecution, and to get better their hidden social meanings. It additionally examines intimately the crimes of witchcraft, coining--counterfeiting and coin-clipping--and homicide, as a way to exhibit new and critical insights into how the considering usual humans was once remodeled among 1550 and 1750.
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Extra resources for Crime and Mentalities in Early Modern England
24 Seventeenth-century commentators perpetuated the image. 25 Others lamented how small suspicions grew into frenzied campaigns, fuelled by what Thomas Ady called `the common hatred that all men do bear to a witch so that if any poor Creature hath the report of being a Witch they joyn their hand with the rest in persecuting blindly without due consideration'. 26 Stereotypes pervade cheap print too. 27 The same image appears in factual accounts. 28 Woodcut illustrations made the 22 23 25 26 27 28 Macfarlane, Witchcraft, p.
J. D. thesis, Cambridge University, 1994, ch. 1. 77 And yet, as the anthropologist Claude LeÂvi-Strauss insisted, `cultures encode properties by imagining their transgressions'; and because records of crimes, crises and con¯icts reveal dynamic interaction between governers and governed, they can also reveal society's core values. 79 With these ends in mind, at least three areas of crime deserve attention: ®rst, the use of religious ideology to communicate ideas about the law;80 secondly, discretionary legal judgements based on morality, and the need to balance local and central interests;81 and, ®nally, the extent to which the law served 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 Cf.
45±69. 104 The problem, then, is inherent in language, and the historian can offer more than resignation. 106 Between what is known for certain and what is not lies interpretation. Depositions and cheap print present problems as sources, and yet they are precisely the problems which are the occupational hazard of the historian. There are more reasons for optimism. Not only was a JP hearing evidence more likely to have behaved indifferently than manipulatively, but depositions were simply a means of putting evidence before a court and were rarely didactic.