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From Grindal to Whitgift

The Political Commitment of Reginald Scot
De Grindal à Whitgift: L’engagement politique de Reginald Scot
Pierre Kapitaniak

Résumés

On se souvient avant tout de La sorcellerie démystifiée de Reginald Scot pour son approche proto-anthropologique de la question de la sorcellerie, alors qu’on a tendance généralement à évacuer ou à minimiser son anticatholicisme. Et pourtant l’auteur participe pleinement à la vaste campagne de propagande anticatholique déclenchée par les missions jésuites du début des années 1580 et intensifiée par la nomination de John Whitgift à l’archevêché de Canterbury en 1583. Peter Elmer a récemment démontré que Scot fut chargé par Whitgift d’écrire un rapport sur activités des non-conformistes dans le Kent, ce qui invite à réexaminer La sorcellerie démystifiée non seulement à travers le prisme anticatholique mais aussi anti-puritain. Cependant, le traité de Scot montre très peu de traces d’un revirement si important positions doctrinales de son auteur qui, jusqu’à l’arrivée de Whitgift, semblait partager les vues d’Edmund Grindal en prônant la tolérance la liberté de prêche. Le présent article tentera de montrer la réponse se trouve dans les circonstances mêmes de la composition du traité, écrit entre 1582 et 1584.

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Texte intégral

Introduction

  • 1 Keith Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic, London, Penguin, 1971; Alan Macfarlane, Witchcraft (...)
  • 2 Leland L. Estes, “Reginald Scot and his Discoverie of Witchcraft: Religion and Science in the Oppos (...)
  • 3 Georg Modestin, “Le gentleman, la sorcière et le diable: Reginald Scot, un anthropologue social ava (...)
  • 4 Roland Littlewood, “Strange, Incredible and Impossible Things: The early Anthropology of Reginald S (...)
  • 5 Ibid., p. 358.
  • 6 Philip C. Almond, England’s First Demonologist: Reginald Scot and ’the Discoverie of Witchcraft’, L (...)

1In 1584, Reginald Scot published The Discoverie of Witchcraft, one of the first demonological treatises in the English tongue in which he adopted a radically sceptical position denouncing the witch-hunts which had plagued England for more than a decade. His basic argument was to deny any possible interaction between the spiritual and the material worlds, which in turn made impossible for witches to have commerce with devils and consequently denied the very existence of witchcraft. Instead, he argued that either witches were deluded by the devil’s sway on their minds and their wonders were mere illusions, or they counterfeited their powers using jugglers’ tricks and their feats were mere fraud. He was also the first to explain the mechanisms of witchcraft accusation by the social conditions of elderly, uneducated and often widowed women who struggled hard to make their living in their home villages. Scot’s defence of witches and his proto-anthropological approach to the question of witchcraft appealed to historians like Keith Thomas and Alan Macfarlane in the 1970s1 and it is still this “charity refused model” that his book is remembered for nowadays. Yet Scot’s arguments were not all that humanistic. The main reason why Scot vehemently attacked the witchmongers who indicted and burned witches was that he posited that this was a Catholic doctrine and activity, and as such had to be “discovered” to those who professed the true religion of the Gospels. Although Scot’s strong (and often verging on caricatural) anti-Catholicism can hardly pass unnoticed, this doctrinal dimension has often been minimised by scholars, long after the over-optimistic analysis by Thomas and Macfarlane. Leland L. Estes recognized the importance of Scot’s anti-Catholicism, but only when he tried to determine Scot’s doctrinal position which he finally described as Erasmian.2 Yet he turned out to be an exception and the following generation of historians did not follow his lead. There was simply no word about Catholicism in Georg Modestin’s article criticising Macfarlane’s interpretation.3 Roland Littlewood’s article mentioned Scot’s anti-Catholicism only in passing4, acknowledging “similarities between the rites of Catholic exorcism and the conjurations it claims to cure,”5 but he did not investigate this aspect any further. There may be several reasons for such a neglect: on the one hand, Thomas and Macfarlane’s thesis was still dominant enough to have those scholars primarily focus on the anthropological question if only to refute it; on the other hand, both Modestin and Littlewood had a very limited knowledge of Scot’s biography, content with repeating the unfounded opinions that had been passed on for decades. The general recognition of Scot’s radical providentialism made his anti-Catholicism a self-evident fact. Even the latest – and most comprehensive – contribution to Scot’s studies by Philip Almond tends to play down The Discoverie’s anti-Catholic dimension. Almond acknowledges Scot’s anti-Catholicism, but only as a characteristic trait of all Protestantism: “As for most of his Elizabethan Protestant contemporaries, to be Protestant was to be above all vehemently anti-Catholic and anti-clerical.”6 Consequently it does not seem to require any further examination, and Almond devotes but a few pages of his monograph to the question.

  • 7 P. Almond, op. cit., p. 191.

2The present paper intends to show that the precise moment of the composition of Scot’s treatise was shaped by a very complex political and religious context which cannot be reduced to mere Protestant anti-papist attitude. A few scholars have endeavoured to pin down Scot’s religious position a little more precisely than that of “radical Protestantism”. Estes saw Scot as an Erasmian, which in fact is not helpful to determine Scot’s Protestantism more specifically; Almond saw him as “driven by a theology of the Holy Spirit”,7 but his main argument rests on a long passage at the end of Scot’s treatise, which was actually translated verbatim from Josias Simmler thus blurring the authorial voice and what can be inferred from it about the author. David Wootton even tried to establish that Scot was a Familist, on the grounds of his being translated in the seventeenth century into Dutch by a Familist printer. Wootton stretched his point by arguing that our demonologist tried to disguise his sectarian views by attacking the very sect he was supposed to belong to:

  • 8 Reginald Scot, The Discoverie of Witchcraft, London, Henry Denham for William Brome, 1584, p. 539.

But although I abhorre that lewd interpretation of the familie of loue, and such other heretikes, as would reduce the whole Bible into allegories: yet (me thinkes) the creeping there is rather metaphoricallie or significatiuelie spoken, than literallie…8

3After situating the period during which Scot wrote his treatise, I will show how The Discoverie of Witchcraft fully participated in a vast campaign of anti-Catholic propaganda fuelled by the Jesuit missions of the early 1580s, Mary Stuart’s claims to the English throne and the growing threat of a Spanish military invasion. Yet beyond Scot’s anti-Catholicism, a few passages in his book reflect another, more recent stand towards non-conformists, which was only recently unearthed by Peter Elmer. The main point of my paper is that The Discoverie of Witchcraft was written during two main phases, and in the interval Scot and his entourage repositioned themselves in the new configuration of power caused by the appointment of a new archbishop of Canterbury.

The Circumstances of writing The Discoverie of Witchcraft

4The 1580s were by far the busiest period in Reginald Scot’s life. For several years he had invested all his time in Kent’s local business. In 1574, he published a successful manual on Hop-gardening and he later supervised the building of dikes to quell the floods of Romney marshes, a few miles from his home in Smeeth. In 1583 (while he was already writing The Discoverie) he spent much time in Dover where he played a major part in the building of a dam that would relieve the harbour from the excess of sand that obstructed its entrance. He worked there in association with his cousin Sir Thomas Scott and the mathematician Thomas Digges. In 1584, he published The Discoverie of Witchcraft and in 1587 he was entrusted with collecting subsidies for the Lathe of Shepway. Later that same year, he accompanied his cousin Thomas, charged by Parliament to raise troops to prevent the Spanish Armada from accosting the English shore and he served as captain near Dover. In 1589 came the crowning achievement of his career when he was elected to Parliament to represent New Romney.

Bodin’s Visit and Darcy’s Trial

  • 9  For the 1579 visit see Leonard F. Dean, “Bodin’s Methodus in England before 1625”, Studies in Phil (...)
  • 10  J. Bossy mentions that when Robert Persons sought Bodin’s support for pleading the Catholic cause, (...)
  • 11  J. Bodin, De dæmonomania magorum, transl. Lotarius Philoponus, Basel, Thomas Guarin, 1581.

5When in November 1581, the leading French intellectual Jean Bodin attended the retinue of the Duke of Anjou, come to resume the marriage negotiations with Elizabeth,9 he was given the opportunity to publicly address the Queen, in a speech that advocated political and religious tolerance.10 Whether he also spoke about witchcraft or not, one may safely bet that he had brought in his luggage a fresh copy of the Latin translation of his Démonomanie des Sorciers (1580), printed in Basel a few months before.11 Like his previous works, the Démonomanie soon found a wide readership and the first Englishman to mention it was one W.W. who wrote the record of the information of Ursley Kempe and her “accomplices” before the St Osyth trial in 1582, commissioned by the JP Brian Darcy in charge of the trial. The St Osyth trial was the largest witch-hunt in England by the time Scot was writing his book. Following the confession of Ursley Kempe, fourteen women were charged with diverse acts of witchcraft and bewitching to death, and two were hanged at the outcome of the trial. In the text, Darcy himself alludes to Bodin’s visit in the following terms:

  • 12  Philip Almond is the first to have identified Bodin in this passage from the interrogation of Eliz (...)

there is a man of great cunning and knoweledge come ouer lately vnto our Queenes Maiestie, which hath aduertised her what a companie and number of Witches be within Englande: whereupon I and other of her Iustices haue receiued Commission for the apprehending of as many as are within these limites, and they which doe confesse the truth of their doeings, they shall haue much fauour: but the other they shall bee burnt and hanged.12

  • 13  Out of the 17 books forming The Discoverie of Witchcraft (counting Discourse as the 17th), only bo (...)
  • 14  See the entry in the Stationers’ Register on 5 April: “licensed to [Thomas Dawson] under the hand (...)

6The most likely hypothesis is that Scot discovered Bodin’s work at the same time as the report on the St Osyth trial, or even thanks to the latter, and that he got his hand on a copy of the Démonomanie the reading of which filled him with indignation. Indeed Scot’s Discoverie is built on Bodin’s book as well as on Johann Weyer’s De Præstigis Dæmonum (1563) and long quotations from the two authors are present throughout the treatise.13 As W.W.’s pamphlet was published in April 1582,14 it is safe to assume that Scot did not start working on the Discoverie before that date.

Rebuilding Dover harbour

  • 15  Cf. Epistle to Thomas Scott: “For I being of your house, of your name, and of your bloud; my foot (...)
  • 16  Eric H. Ash, “‘A Perfect and an Absolute Work’: Expertise, Authority, and the Rebuilding of Dover (...)
  • 17  There are three letters from Thomas Scott to Walsingham: February 21, March 10 and March 24 (Scott (...)
  • 18  Raphael Holinshed, The Chronicles of England, Scotlande, and Irelande, London, At the Expenses of (...)

7But even then, Scot was not able to devote all his time to the book. Sir Thomas Scott – the cousin who accommodated and supported him15 – had been appointed superintendent of the construction works on the Dover harbour in August 1579, but until late 1582 no progress had been made. It is then that Sir Thomas and Reginald came with a new solution,16 and in February and March 1583, Digges and Thomas Scott wrote to Sir Francis Walsingham to support the new project.17 Reginald was finally sent to London to present the plans before the Privy Council.18 The effect of his visit was immediate – on 10 April 1583 the Romney workers were hired and finished the construction by late July. It is unlikely that Scot should have had much time for anything else during these summer months.

  • 19  R. Scot, Discoverie, p. 432.
  • 20  R. Scot, Discoverie, sig. Bir.

8It was only in August 1583, then, that Scot was able to resume his writing. The book was published with the date of 1584 on the title page, but without an entry in the Stationers’ Register. Nevertheless it is possible to determine the date of its composition more accurately according to clues left in the book itself. The allusion to the attempted assassination of William of Orange in 1582, and the lack of mention of the second and successful attempt on July 10, 1584 suggest that the manuscript was completed before that date.19 Another less accurate topical allusion confirms the summer period: Scot mentions Robert Browne’s flight to Scotland, and since the latter came back to England during the summer of 1584, the allusion must have been written before.20

9It may be inferred from this evidence that a first draft of the Discoverie was written between April 1582 and April 1583 and that it was then expanded, revised, and completed between August 1583 and the late spring of 1584.

Leicester’s faction and Militant Anti-Catholicism

  • 21  Brinsley Nicholson (ed.), The Discoverie of Witchcraft, by Reginald Scot,... Being a Reprint of th (...)

10Reginald Scot’s activities in the 1580s depict a man strongly involved in local circles under the wing of his cousin Sir Thomas Scott, the most powerful figure in Kent, if we are to trust Brinsley Nicholson’s anecdote according to which “Elizabeth refused the request made by Lord Buckhurst, or the Earl of Leicester, that Sir Thomas Scott should be ennobled, saying that he had already more influence in Kent than she had.”21

  • 22  Peter Elmer, Witchcraft, Witch-Hunting, and Politics in Early Modern England, Oxford, Oxford Unive (...)

11The three dedicatory epistles of the Discoverie bear out the importance of the local network. Scot’s four patrons are two judges and two clergymen, all living in Kent. The first epistle is addressed to Sir Roger Manwood (1524/5-1592), Justice of the Peace and renowned lawyer, specialised in the Cinque Ports legislation, and from 1578, Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer, that is the highest Equity judge in the realm. According to Peter Elmer, in the 1580s Manwood held an “almost proconsular sway”22 in Kent. As the second epistle is addressed to Sir Thomas Scot, the treatise is clearly placed under the protection of the two principal figures of the county, both of whom seem to have been perceived as second only to the Queen.

Leicester and Grindal

  • 23  Simon Adam mentions Leicester’s ties with the Scott family in the 1550s (ODNB).
  • 24  P. Elmer, op. cit., p. 25.

12As we have seen, Sir Francis Walsingham, Elizabeth’s spy-master, was also among the supervisors of the fortification works in Dover. Walsingham, who had been born in Kent, liked the company of fellow countrymen. Moreover, over the years he had woven close ties with one of the Queen’s favourites, sitting on the Privy Council, Robert Dudley, earl of Leicester (1532-1588) and it was around that figure that the Kentish circle seemed to revolve. Walsingham and Leicester got on well enough to join their families: in 1583, Walsingham’s daughter, Frances, married Philip Sidney, Leicester’s favourite nephew and in 1585, when Frances gave birth to her first daughter, named Elizabeth as a tribute to the Queen who accepted to be her godmother, her godfather was none other but Leicester. Reginald Scot was linked to this circle through his cousin Sir Thomas who in turn was related to and had regular contacts with Leicester. It is quite likely that during Mary’s reign, when Leicester had to get away from court and spent some time in Kent, he may have benefited from Sir Thomas’s hospitality.23 It can be further noted that Leicester’s local influence in Kent was increased by his charge of High Steward of the Archiepiscopal Liberties.24

  • 25  Sybil M. Jack, “Manwood, Sir Roger (1524/5–1592)”, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford (...)

13Thus Scot was not only a gentleman farmer deeply involved in the county’s local life, but also a minor actor in the political faction represented by the earl of Leicester, who opposed Elizabeth’s marriage to Anjou and advocated strong anti-Catholic positions within the Privy Council. A staunch protestant, Leicester protected many Kentish personalities: Sir Roger Manwood benefited both from Leicester’s and Walsingham’s patronage when in 1577 he was considered for the position of Chief Baron of the Exchequer.25 It was also Leicester who was behind the appointment of Edmund Grindal (1519-1583) as archbishop of Canterbury in 1575.

  • 26  Penelope Rundle, ‘Coldwell, John (c.1535–1596)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford U (...)

14The other two dedicatees of the Discoverie are both clergymen directly linked to Grindal thus extending a larger network around the earl of Leicester. Born in Faversham, John Coldwell (1535-1596) combined the career of a physician with that of a minister. He soon became a chaplain to Archbishop Matthew Parker and, as Penelope Rundle suggests, “perhaps also his personal physician”.26 After Parker died in 1575, he continued to serve his successor Edmund Grindal who installed him as dean of Rochester in 1581. As for William Redman (1541-1602), even if he had not been born in Kent, he was appointed as archdeacon of Canterbury by Grindal, after completing his theological studies in Cambridge. To these two clergymen a third one can be added, whom Scot mentions in the same epistle: “is it possible for a man to breake his fast with you at Rochester, and to dine that day at Durham with Maister Doctor Matthew?” Tobie (or Tobias) Matthew (c.1544-1628), a doctor in divinity, was among those who sent a petition to the Queen to obtain Grindal’s pardon in 1581.

Anti-Catholic propaganda

15Within the Privy Council Leicester and Walsingham represented the wing of protestant ideologues. Likewise, the men who belonged to their networks were staunch Calvinists and spared no efforts in defending their nation against the threats from Rome. That threat grew more concrete after 1570, when Pius V issued the “Regnans in excelsis” bull excommunicating Elizabeth and releasing her subjects from their allegiance to her. And immediate consequence was the Ridolphi Plot in 1571, which intended to assassinate the Queen and enthrone Mary Stuart. Although the bull was suspended in 1580 by Gregory XIII, the anti-Catholic context became particularly burning as the Jesuit missionaries Edmund Campion and Robert Persons set foot on English ground on the 24 June 1580. Because of its geographical proximity with the continent, Kent was very active in debunking crypto-Catholics and missionaries, and both Sir Thomas Scott and Sir Roger Manwood participated in several recusancy commissions.

  • 27  Stuart Clark, Witchcraft and Magic in Europe, Volume 4: The Period of the Witch Trials, Philadelph (...)

16The Discoverie of Witchcraft fully belonged in this militant context. Stuart Clark had previously observed about Johann Weyer that “many of the things witches were supposed to do were merely anti-Catholic transgressions – that is, things that no one but Catholics could take seriously”.27 When Scot takes up Weyer’s ideas, he does so in a country where more than two decades of legislation, action and writing against Roman Catholicism have left their mark on people’s minds. In the meantime, those anti-Catholic transgressions have turned into Catholic superstitions, which allow Scot to equate papism and witchcraft:

  • 28  R. Scot, Discoverie, bk. XV, chap. xxvi, p. 444.

So as you may understand, that the papists do not onlie by their doctrine, in bookes and sermons teach and publish conjurations, and the order thereof, whereby they may induce men to bestowe, or rather cast awaie their monie upon masses and suffrages for their soules; but they make it also a parcell of their sacrament of orders (of the which number a conjuror is one) and insert manie formes of conjurations into their divine service, and not onelie into their pontificals, but into their masse bookes; yea into the verie canon of the masse.28

  • 29  Francis Young, English Catholics and the Supernatural, 1553-1829, Farnham, Ashgate, 2013, p. 137-1 (...)

On the one hand the Catholic doctrine is presented as the origin of the conjurations; on the other it inserts conjurations into the liturgy. The argument becomes circular and thus papism can no longer be distinguished from witchcraft. Of course, Scot is not the first to equate the two and Francis Young recalls the example of Robert Persons who in 1582 complained about Catholics being accused of dealing with the Devil, even if the link seems essentially to have remained a rhetorical one.29

The connotations of “Discovery”

  • 30  OED 2.b. The OED quotes John Jewel (Def. Apol. Churche Eng. vi. xxiii. 753: “As wel for the discou (...)
  • 31  John Stubbes, The discouerie of a gaping gulf vvhereinto England is like to be swallovved by anoth (...)

17Moreover, to an Elizabethan reader the very title of The Discoverie of Witchcraft would have immediately sounded polemical, the term “discovery” bringing to mind recent associations with the pamphlet literature against Jesuits and Rome. Indeed this word seems to have crystallised the Elizabethans’ attitude towards Roman Catholics in the early 1580s. Although “discovery” had long been used in titles of books about geographical findings, it is only in 1567 that it first appeared in the acceptation of “The action of exposing or revealing something hidden or previously unseen or unknown; disclosure, revelation; exposition.”30 From 1579 on, the term “discovery” in its demystifying acceptation was suddenly and widely found in the titles of many pamphlets, most of which were related to religious controversies, especially (though not exclusively) about the Roman Catholic threat. We owe the first such title to John Stubbes, who published a diatribe against Elizabeth’s planned marriage to the French Catholic prince entitled The Discoverie of a Gaping gulf whereinto England is like to be swallowed by another French Marriage.31

  • 32  William Fulke, A retentiue, to stay good Christians, in true faith and religion, against the motiu (...)

18The sensationalist sound of it must have caught the public’s eye for when a few months later32 William Fulke published a long refutation of Papism, he chose to entitle his work A Discovery of the dangerous rock of the Popish church, a last minute choice, it would seem, since the entry in the Stationers’ Register mentioned “a confutacion” instead a “discovery”. Moreover, Fulke’s publication contained “A Catalogve of all svch Popish Bookes either avnsvvered, or to be aunswered, which beeinge written in the English tongue from beyond the seas, or secretly dispersed here in England”, listing 41 pamphlets none of which used the term “discovery”.

  • 33  Robert Persons, A discovery of J. Nic[h]o[l]ls minister, misreported a Jesuit, lately recanted in (...)
  • 34  Respectively Thomas Lupton, The Christian against the Jesuit Wherein the secret or nameless writer (...)

19The trend seems to have been confirmed by the repeated use of “discovery” in two controversies that had a common adversary in Roman Catholicism. The first one was triggered by the successive conversions of John Nicholls, a Somerset curate who left the Church of England for Rome in 1577, but then returned to England in 1580 and recanted his recent Catholicism. While in prison, John Nicholls wrote several propaganda pieces in 1581 which were then answered by the Jesuit polemicist Robert Persons, who used the term “discovery” to denounce a protestant mystification, denying that Nicholls had ever been a Jesuit.33 Thomas Lupton, whose works Scot quotes in his treatise, replied to Persons the following year quoting the latter’s title in his own, followed in 1583 by Dudley Fenner, one of the radical puritans prophesying in Kent, whose pamphlet was dedicated to Leicester.34

  • 35  William Charke, An answere to a seditious pamphlet lately cast abroade by a Jesuit, with a discoue (...)
  • 36  Anthony Munday, A discovery of Edmund Campion, and his confederates, their most horrible and trait (...)
  • 37  Gregory Martin, A discouerie of the manifold corruptions of the Holy Scriptures by the heretikes o (...)
  • 38  William Fulke, A defense of the sincere and true translations of the holie Scriptures into the Eng (...)

20The second controversy gathered momentum around the mission, trial and execution of the Jesuit missionary Edmund Campion, attacked early during his mission by William Charke in a pamphlet entitled A discovery of that blasphemous sect.35 Charke was later chosen to try and convert Campion while in prison but failed, and continued to fuel a polemical exchange with Robert Persons until 1583. In 1582, Anthony Munday contributed to the controversy choosing the same kind of title: A discovery of Edmund Campion, and his confederates.36 Furthermore, Thomas M. McCoog mentions about Gregory Martin “that On 13 February 1579 he informed Campion that he had nearly finished a manuscript on protestant corruption and abuse of scripture.” Gregory Martin was the author of a Catholic English translation of the Bible, and when his book was finally published in Rheims in 1582, it bore the title of A discouerie of the manifold corruptions of the Holy Scriptures by the heretikes of our daies,37 probably dictated by the recent vogue for the term and, incidentally, refuted again by William Fulke in 1583.38

  • 39  Q. Z., A Discovery of the treasons practised and attempted against the Queen’s Majesty and the rea (...)
  • 40  The troublesome reign of John King of England with the discovery of King Richard Cordelion’s base (...)
  • 41  Robert Greene, A notable discovery of cozenage, now daily practised by sundry lewd persons, called (...)

21It is therefore necessary to bear this semantic and rhetorical background in mind when one approaches the reception of The Discoverie of Witchcraft. The average Elizabethan reader would no doubt immediately associate the title of the treatise with the recent vogue of anti-Catholic writings, as he would that of a pamphlet on Throckmorton’s plot at about the same time.39 The trend persisted at least until the victory over the Spanish Armada in 1588 and it is only in the 1590s that this connotation of “discovery” gradually faded away. A symbolic turning point may be seen in the year 1591 with, on the one hand, the publication of an anonymous anti-Catholic play that inspired Shakespeare – The troublesome reign of John King of England with the discovery of King Richard Cordelion’s base son;40 and on the other Robert Greene’s series of witty texts describing London’s underworld initiated by A notable discovery of cozenage, now daily practised by sundry lewd persons, called connie-catchers, and cross-biters.41

From Grindal to Whitgift: a backlash on non-conformists

Growing anti-puritanism

  • 42  Marc Konnert, “The Family of Love and the Church of England”, Renaissance and Reformation, vol. 26 (...)

22The Catholics were not alone in arousing the Crown’s suspicion and once again Kent was an outpost. It was a traditionally rebellious county, and Presbyterians were strongly present even within Scot’s circles. It was the case of Edward Dering, a puritan preacher and Scot’s cousin, who visited John Field and Thomas Wilcox when they were imprisoned in 1572-1573. The two ministers had published An Admonition to the Parliament, a polemical text which had triggered a controversy notably with the bishop of Worcester, John Whitgift (1530-1604). The tensions between clerical authorities and non-conformist preachers had worsened during the 1570s and commissions were regularly set up to control preaching rights. Sir Thomas Scott was thus part of a parliamentary group which in February 1581 proposed a bill to suppress Familists.42

23When Edmund Grindal died on 6 July 1583, he had been in disgrace and far from office for several years for refusing to clamp down on non-conformists’ “prophesying”. On the 23 September he was succeeded by John Whitgift, whose opinions and policies were the antithesis of his predecessor. Where moderate Grindal tried to promote the Psuritan cause incurring the Queen’s wrath, Whitgift, who had remained in England under Mary, was already well known for his High Church opinions and for his hostility towards non-conformism.

  • 43  Patrick Collinson, The Elizabethan Puritan Movement, Oxford, Clarendon, 1967, p. 386.

24Whitgift’s appointment marks a turning point in the Crown’s religious policy as well as a redistribution of powers at the highest level. Grindal had benefited from Leicester’s protection, but from the onset Whitgift and Leicester did not get along. Although Whitgift informed Leicester that he intended to carry on a lenient attitude towards the puritans, his actions were soon to disprove his words. Whitgift did nothing to hide his hostility towards Leicester and when the latter left for the military campaign in the Netherlands, Whitgift managed to be appointed to the Privy Council, which was quite unusual for a member of the clergy, and was soon to be one of the reasons for the earl’s slow decline.43

25In the meantime, hardly a month after his appointment as Archbishop of Canterbury, Whitgift published a series of articles of faith aiming at bringing back into the Crown’s bosom all the recalcitrant preachers. One of those articles in particular provoked the ire of the non-conformists. It stipulated that the Book of Common Prayer and the hierarchy of bishops, priests and deacons were not contrary to the word of God and that the clergy was not allowed to use any other book for the service. In a sermon delivered at Saint Paul on 17 November 1583, Whitgift required all ministers to subscribe to his articles, raging against Papists and Anabaptists. It triggered the subscription crisis of 1583-1584, Whitgift’s attitude making him quite unpopular among the puritans as well as moderate non-conformists.

  • 44  Collinson, ibid., p. 258-9. On the relations between Whitgift and Kent, see Collinson, p. 140 & 18 (...)

26All over the kingdom, protest movements ensued and Sir Thomas Scott got immediately involved in the Kentish one. Early in 1584 he wrote a petition to the Privy Council. On 8 May 1584, leading a delegation of Kentish nobility he rode to London for an interview first with the Privy Council then with Whitgift. Among the men who joined him, many were also close acquaintances of Reginald’s: “Thomas Randolph and Nicholas Saintleger and members of ancient Kentish families, Woottons, Derings and Finches. Among them were the two brothers of Edward Dering, the famous preacher who had died eight years before, Thomas Wotton, his patron, and Henry Killigrew, whose wife had leant so heavily on Dering's spiritual counsel.”44 Years later Thomas Digges was to remember this upheaval with great sadness:

  • 45  Thomas Digges, Humble motives for association to maintain religion established published as an ant (...)

[…] when the Earl of Leicester lived, it went for current that all papists were traitors in action or affection. He was no sooner dead, but Sir Christopher Hatton […] bearing sway, Puritans were trounced and traduced as troublers of the state45

  • 46  Collinson, op. cit., p. 259.
  • 47  See P. Elmer, op. cit., p. 18-19. The report no longer exists but Elmer reconstructs its contents (...)
  • 48  Glyn Parry, The Arch-Conjuror of England, New Haven, Yale University Press, 2011, p. 208-9.
  • 49  Thanks to an exchange of letters between Abraham Fleming and Reginald Scot, we know that Reginald (...)
  • 50  P. Elmer, ibid.

Yet, when the interview with Whitgift was over and all the petitioners were leaving angry and ready to rebel, Sir Thomas was the only one to be persuaded by the Archbishop’s arguments.46 Peter Elmer has recently shown that the report on which Whitgift based his decision to clamp down on non-conformists had been prepared by none other than Reginald Scot.47 Glyn Parry concurs suggesting that Scot might have benefited from Whitgift’s protection in order to attack Leicester and Dee,48 when he inserted a letter he received from Thomas Elkes, another magician working for Leicester, as this letter is the only mention of the earl in the six hundred pages of Scot’s treatise. All this evidence suggests that both Reginald and Sir Thomas, who seem to have remained very close throughout their lives,49 hardened their positions towards non-conformists sometime during the months of transition between Grindal and Whitgift. Peter Elmer even remarks that Reginald’s Scot opponents later accused him of changing sides.50

The Repositioning of Scot’s network

  • 51  P. Clark, op. cit., p. 295.

27But Sir Thomas and Reginald were not alone to shift in their loyalties at Whitgift’s arrival. A closer look at Scot’s dedicatees betrays similar repositioning. William Redman, who had been appointed by Grindal, soon became one of Whitgift’s chaplains. Also owing his position to Grindal, John Coldwell carried on his career under Whitgift, finally earning the bishopric of Salisbury in 1591, thanks to the intervention of Lord Burghley, himself quite close to Roger Manwood,51 which could not have been achieved without ingratiating himself with the new archbishop. And if we are to trust Nicolas Gyer’s dedication, Scot remained close to Coldwell at least until 1592:

  • 52  Nicholas Gyer, English Phlebotomy, London, Andrew Mansell, 1592, sig. A5v.

I have thought your worship a meet person to dedicate this book unto, […] for that, thorow you when the same was first penned it passed the view and apportation of that right worshipful and wise man M. Doctor Coldwel, a pillar in this our age of that noble profession. I assure you I thought my self happy to have my little Latin examined by the direction of his judgement to whose worthy and famous faculty, the matters therein mentioned were most properly appertaining.52

  • 53  P. Elmer, op. cit., p. 19. See P. Clark, op. cit., p. 137.

As for Tobie Matthew who had officially supported Grindal in 1581, he became deacon of Durham on 3 September 1583, that is in the interim between Grindal’s death and Whitgift’s appointment. Peter Elmer has shown that Sir Roger Manwood supported Whitgift’s anti-puritan policy although previously he had expressed sympathy for the non-conformist cause.53

  • 54  Virgil, The Bucoliks of Publius Virgilius Maro, prince of all Latine poets; otherwise called his p (...)

28Scot may have been further influenced in his choice by Abraham Fleming who collaborated on The Discoverie of Witchcraft, translating the Latin and Greek poetical quotations and preparing the index of the book. Fleming seems to have shifted his allegiance even before the transition, in 1582, as his dedication to the translation of a dialogue by Jacobus Wittewronghelus was addressed to John Aylmer, bishop of London, known for his anti-puritan positions and often seen as a forerunner of Whitgift’s reforms towards conformity. In 1589 he dedicated the new edition of his translation of Virgil’s Eclogues augmented with a translation of the Georgics, directly to John Whitgift, barely a year after being ordained deacon and priest. It was perhaps to these favours that his epistle alluded when Fleming wrote of the “beneuolence and beneficence towards [him]” and of “goodnesse heeretofore most bountifully extended”.54

29If we bring together the chronology of this transition and Scot’s agenda, the end of the Dover fortifications coincided with Grindal’s death and Scot’s resuming of his treatise with the redistribution of powers triggered by Whitgift’s appointment. Which also means that Scot’s repositioning came too late to affect in depth the contents of The Discoverie, leaving only a few traces. This probably accounts for the absence of explicit attacks against Leicester and relatively few elements that reflect Scot’s altered position. One passage, though, overtly denounced non-conformists by lumping them together with Roman Catholics:

  • 55  R. Scot, Discoverie, 3rd epistle, sig. Bir.

Methinks these magicall physicians deale in the commonwelth, much like as a certeine kind of Cynicall people doo in the church, whose seuere saiengs are accompted among some such oracles, as may not be doubted of; who in stead of learning and authoritie (which they make contemptible) doo feed the people with their owne deuises and imaginations, which they prefer before all other diuinitie: and labouring to erect a church according to their owne fansies, wherein all order is condemned, and onelie their magicall words and curious directions aduanced, they would vtterlie ouerthrowe the true Church. And even as these inchanting Paracelsians abuse the people, leading them from the true order of physicke to their charmes: so doo these other (I saie) dissuade from hearkening to learning and obedience, and whisper in mens eares to teach them their frierlike traditions. And of this sect the cheefe author at this time is one Browne, a fugitiue, a meet couer for such a cup: as heretofore the Anabaptists, the Arrians, and the Franciscane friers55.

  • 56  P. Elmer, op. cit., p. 22.
  • 57  William Monter, Witchcraft and Magic in Europe, London, The Athlone Press, 2002, vol. 4, p. 19.
  • 58  See Leland L. Estes who remarks that Scot never goes as far as criticising the established order a (...)

30Scot adroitly combined two types of allusions and confirmed the fusion in the final list of sects which features non-conformists, Anabaptists and Franciscans. Peter Elmer notes that a similar rapprochement between Puritans and Anabaptists was used in May 1584 by Whitgift’s address to the Kentish petitioners.56 In so doing both Scot and Whitgift reflected a more general attitude observed by William Monter in Witchcraft and Magic in Europe, namely that the main problem in Europe in the sixteenth century was not witchcraft but Luther’s or Anabaptist heresy57 to which we may add this other heresy that the English were obsessed with, namely Roman Catholicism. Scot undeniably defended the established order and the “true” church, that is the one embodied by Elizabeth and consequently by Whitgift,58 but the fact that the passage is found in one of the dedicatory epistles suggests it was a late addition, as the paratext was certainly the finishing touch of the book.

Conclusion

31The Discoverie of Witchcraft is an overt anti-Catholic work that also contains a few traces of a last minute shift affecting the very last months of its composition. Those traces attacking non-conformists add up to the jibes on Catholics but are not exactly in tune with a more tolerant spirit expressed elsewhere. Supposedly, like many of his friends, Reginald Scot’s religious conformity allowed for sympathy towards those who professed equality between men. His undeniable shift in late 1583 seems not so much an opportunistic gesture as a way of distancing himself from movements that got more and more radical in the conflict. After all, the writings and actions of this enlightened Calvinist were all motivated by an egalitarian ideal, whether he offered the first English manual of hop-gardening, denounced the abuses of ill-intentioned judges and priests who plagued the weak and the poor, or demonstrated how humble Kentish workers managed to outdo the Crown’s greatest engineers.

32It also seems that Scot’s repositioning was quite obvious to his contemporaries, since his conformist views were taken up by later generations as representative of the High-Church throughout Elizabeth’s and James’s reigns. Scot’s ideas were thus quoted as mainstream attitude to be held, by authors like Samuel Harsnett or Edwards Jorden during the controversy that followed the series of exorcisms at the turn of the century.

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Notes

1 Keith Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic, London, Penguin, 1971; Alan Macfarlane, Witchcraft in Tudor and Stuart England: A Regional and Comparative Study, London, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1970.

2 Leland L. Estes, “Reginald Scot and his Discoverie of Witchcraft: Religion and Science in the Opposition to the European Witch Craze”, Church History, vol. 52, n°4, 1983, p. 446-447.

3 Georg Modestin, “Le gentleman, la sorcière et le diable: Reginald Scot, un anthropologue social avant la lettre?”, in Catherine Chêne, Martine Ostorero, Etienne Anheim (ed.), Le diable en procès : Démonologie et sorcellerie à la fin du Moyen Âge, Médiévales, n° 44, Presses Universitaires de Vincennes, 2003, p. 141-154.

4 Roland Littlewood, “Strange, Incredible and Impossible Things: The early Anthropology of Reginald Scot”, Transcultural Psychiatry, vol. 46, n° 2, 2009, p. 350.

5 Ibid., p. 358.

6 Philip C. Almond, England’s First Demonologist: Reginald Scot and ’the Discoverie of Witchcraft’, London, I. B. Tauris, 2015, p. 190.

7 P. Almond, op. cit., p. 191.

8 Reginald Scot, The Discoverie of Witchcraft, London, Henry Denham for William Brome, 1584, p. 539.

9  For the 1579 visit see Leonard F. Dean, “Bodin’s Methodus in England before 1625”, Studies in Philology, vol. 39, 1942, p. 160-1. Bodin travelled to England twice in 1581, once with the emissaries, and once with the Duke (John Bossy, “English Catholics and the French Marriage, 1577-1581”, Recusant History, vol. 5, 1959, note 40).

10  J. Bossy mentions that when Robert Persons sought Bodin’s support for pleading the Catholic cause, Bodin replied that he had come to talk of marriage not of religion (art. cit., p. 10).

11  J. Bodin, De dæmonomania magorum, transl. Lotarius Philoponus, Basel, Thomas Guarin, 1581.

12  Philip Almond is the first to have identified Bodin in this passage from the interrogation of Elizabeth Bennet on the 22 February 1582. W. W., True and just record, 1582, sig. B6v. Almond, England’s First Demonologist, op. cit., p. 18. As early as the epistle, W.W. quotes Bodin in the margin: “Bodinus in confutatione futilis opinionis Wieri; Lamias, lamiarumque Veneficia astruentis”.

13  Out of the 17 books forming The Discoverie of Witchcraft (counting Discourse as the 17th), only book VIII (on miracles) and book XIV (on alchemy) do not refer to Bodin.

14  See the entry in the Stationers’ Register on 5 April: “licensed to [Thomas Dawson] under the hand of master Dewce Th[e] Information of Certaine witches in Ozees in Essex” (A Transcript of the Register of the Company of Stationers of London, ed. Edward Arber, London, 1875, vol. 2, f° 188a).

15  Cf. Epistle to Thomas Scott: “For I being of your house, of your name, and of your bloud; my foot being under your table, my hand in your dish, or rather in your pursse…” (sig. [A6]r).

16  Eric H. Ash, “‘A Perfect and an Absolute Work’: Expertise, Authority, and the Rebuilding of Dover Harbor, 1579-1583”, Technology and Culture, vol. 41, n° 2, 2000, p. 258.

17  There are three letters from Thomas Scott to Walsingham: February 21, March 10 and March 24 (Scott, p. 200).

18  Raphael Holinshed, The Chronicles of England, Scotlande, and Irelande, London, At the Expenses of J. Harison, G. Bishop, R. Newberie, H. Denham, and T. Woodcocke, 1587, vol. 3, p. 1541.

19  R. Scot, Discoverie, p. 432.

20  R. Scot, Discoverie, sig. Bir.

21  Brinsley Nicholson (ed.), The Discoverie of Witchcraft, by Reginald Scot,... Being a Reprint of the 1st Edition Published in 1584, London, E. Stock, 1886, p. xii.

22  Peter Elmer, Witchcraft, Witch-Hunting, and Politics in Early Modern England, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2015, p. 19. See Peter Clark, English Provincial Society from the Reformation to the Revolution: Religion, Politics and Society in Kent 1500-1640, Hassocks, Harvester Press, 1977, p. 289.

23  Simon Adam mentions Leicester’s ties with the Scott family in the 1550s (ODNB).

24  P. Elmer, op. cit., p. 25.

25  Sybil M. Jack, “Manwood, Sir Roger (1524/5–1592)”, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 [http://www.oxforddnb.com.janus.biu.sorbonne.fr/view/article/18014, accessed 19 May 2016].

26  Penelope Rundle, ‘Coldwell, John (c.1535–1596)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2009 [http://www.oxforddnb.com.janus.biu.sorbonne.fr/view/article/5844, accessed 19 May 2016].

27  Stuart Clark, Witchcraft and Magic in Europe, Volume 4: The Period of the Witch Trials, Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002, p. 146.

28  R. Scot, Discoverie, bk. XV, chap. xxvi, p. 444.

29  Francis Young, English Catholics and the Supernatural, 1553-1829, Farnham, Ashgate, 2013, p. 137-140 and p. 15.

30  OED 2.b. The OED quotes John Jewel (Def. Apol. Churche Eng. vi. xxiii. 753: “As wel for the discouerie of so greate vntruthe, as also for the better satisfaction of the Reader, I haue thought it good ... to touche, [etc.].”) Incidentally one may wonder whether this does not partly correspond to another variant meaning of “discovery”: 1.c. “The action or fact of detecting a person, esp. one seeking to remain concealed or disguised, or one engaged in criminal or illicit activity; the action or fact of bringing such activity to light”, although the OED dates the first occurrence to 1592.

31  John Stubbes, The discouerie of a gaping gulf vvhereinto England is like to be swallovved by another French mariage, if the Lord forbid not the banes, by letting her Maiestie see the sin and punishment thereof, [London: Printed by H. Singleton for W. Page], Mense Augusti. Anno. 1579. Let it be noted that the same year, in a pamphlet entitled The displaying of an horrible secte of grosse and wicked heretiques, naming themselues the family of loue, John Rogers denounced the dangers of the Familists in similar terms using the word “discovery” as a synonym of “displaying” in his preface.

32  William Fulke, A retentiue, to stay good Christians, in true faith and religion, against the motiues of Richard Bristow Also a discouerie of the daungerous rocke of the popish Church, commended by Nicholas Sander D. of Diuinitie. Done by VVilliam Fulke Doctor of diuinitie, and Maister of Pembroke hall in Cambridge, Imprinted at London by Thomas Vautroullier for George Bishop, 1580. Although the date on the title page is 1580, the manuscript was entered in the Stationers’ Register on 9 February 1579/80.

33  Robert Persons, A discovery of J. Nic[h]o[l]ls minister, misreported a Jesuit, lately recanted in the Tower of London, Stonor Park [Pyrton], Greenstreet House Press, 1581.

34  Respectively Thomas Lupton, The Christian against the Jesuit Wherein the secret or nameless writer of a pernicious book, intituled A discovery of J. Nic[h]ol[l]s minister, London, Thomas Dawson for Thomas Woodcock, 1582; Dudley Fenner, An answer unto the confutation of John Nichol[l]s his recantation, London, John Wolfe for John Harrison and Thomas Mann, 1583. For Fenner’s connections see P. Clark, op. cit., p. 170.

35  William Charke, An answere to a seditious pamphlet lately cast abroade by a Jesuit, with a discouery of that blasphemous sect, London, Christopher Barker, 1580, reprinted as An answer to a seditious pamphlet lately cast abroad by a Jesuit containing ix. articles here inserted and set down at large, with a discovery of that blasphemous sect, 1581. The title page mention the date of 17 “Decembris” but the book was entered in the SR on the 20th. To this publication was appended a second text with a separate title page, being a translation of a Latin text by Christian Francke: A conference or Dialogue discoureing the sect of Iesuites: most profotable for all Christendome rightly to knowe their religion.

36  Anthony Munday, A discovery of Edmund Campion, and his confederates, their most horrible and traitorous practises, against her Majesty’s most royal person and the realm, London, John Charlewood for Edward White, 1582. Entered in the Stationers’ Register on 19 March 1581/2.

37  Gregory Martin, A discouerie of the manifold corruptions of the Holy Scriptures by the heretikes of our daies specially the English sectaries, and of their foule dealing herein, by partial & false translations to the aduantage of their heresies, in their English Bibles vsed and authorised since the time of schisme. By Gregory Martin one of the readers of diuinitie in the English College of Rhemes, Printed at Rhemes: By Iohn Fogny, 1582.

38  William Fulke, A defense of the sincere and true translations of the holie Scriptures into the English tong against the manifolde cauils, friuolous quarels, and impudent slaunders of Gregorie Martin, one of the readers of popish diuinitie in the trayterous Seminarie of Rhemes. By William Fvlke D. in Diuinitie, and M. of Pembroke haule in Cambridge. Wherevnto is added a briefe confutation of all such quarrels & cauils, as haue bene of late vttered by diuerse papistes in their English pamphlets, against the writings of the saide William Fvlke, At London: printed by Henrie Bynneman, 1583.

39  Q. Z., A Discovery of the treasons practised and attempted against the Queen’s Majesty and the realm, by Francis Throckmorton, London, C. Barker, 1584.

40  The troublesome reign of John King of England with the discovery of King Richard Cordelion’s base son, London, Sampson Clarke, 1591.

41  Robert Greene, A notable discovery of cozenage, now daily practised by sundry lewd persons, called connie-catchers, and cross-biters, London, John Wolfe, 1591.

42  Marc Konnert, “The Family of Love and the Church of England”, Renaissance and Reformation, vol. 26, n° 2, 1991, p. 161.

43  Patrick Collinson, The Elizabethan Puritan Movement, Oxford, Clarendon, 1967, p. 386.

44  Collinson, ibid., p. 258-9. On the relations between Whitgift and Kent, see Collinson, p. 140 & 189.

45  Thomas Digges, Humble motives for association to maintain religion established published as an antidote against the pestilent treatises of secular priests, London, [s.n.], 1601, p. 24-5, quoted by Collinson, op. cit., 1967, p. 388. Cf. also Peter Clark, op. cit., p. 173.

46  Collinson, op. cit., p. 259.

47  See P. Elmer, op. cit., p. 18-19. The report no longer exists but Elmer reconstructs its contents from reactions of his puritan opponents.

48  Glyn Parry, The Arch-Conjuror of England, New Haven, Yale University Press, 2011, p. 208-9.

49  Thanks to an exchange of letters between Abraham Fleming and Reginald Scot, we know that Reginald had written an epitaph for Thomas Scott when the latter died in 1594 (William E. Miller, “Abraham Fleming: Editor of Shakespeare’s Holinshed”, Texas Studies in Literature and Language, vol. 1, 1959-60, p. 93-4).

50  P. Elmer, ibid.

51  P. Clark, op. cit., p. 295.

52  Nicholas Gyer, English Phlebotomy, London, Andrew Mansell, 1592, sig. A5v.

53  P. Elmer, op. cit., p. 19. See P. Clark, op. cit., p. 137.

54  Virgil, The Bucoliks of Publius Virgilius Maro, prince of all Latine poets; otherwise called his pastoralls, or shepeherds meetings. Together with his Georgiks or ruralls, otherwise called his husbandrie, conteyning foure books. All newly translated into English verse by A.F., London, T[homas] O[rwin] for Thomas Woodcocke, 1589.

55  R. Scot, Discoverie, 3rd epistle, sig. Bir.

56  P. Elmer, op. cit., p. 22.

57  William Monter, Witchcraft and Magic in Europe, London, The Athlone Press, 2002, vol. 4, p. 19.

58  See Leland L. Estes who remarks that Scot never goes as far as criticising the established order and even proves “a firm supporter of the political and social hierarchy” (art. cit., p. 447).

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Référence électronique

Pierre Kapitaniak, « From Grindal to Whitgift », Études Épistémè [En ligne], 29 | 2016, mis en ligne le 11 juillet 2016, consulté le 24 novembre 2017. URL : http://episteme.revues.org/1263 ; DOI : 10.4000/episteme.1263

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Auteur

Pierre Kapitaniak

Pierre Kapitaniak is professor of early modern British civilisation at the University of Montpellier. He works on Elizabeth drama as well as on the conception, perception and representation of supernatural phenomena from XVIth to XVIIIth century. He has published Spectres, Ombres et fantômes : Discours et représentations dramatiques en Angleterre (Honoré Champion, 2008), and coedited Fictions du diable : démonologie et littérature (Droz, 2007). He translated into French and edited Thomas Middleton’s play The Witch/ La sorcière (Classiques Garnier, 2012). He is also currently working with Jean Migrenne on a long-term project of translating early modern demonological treatises, and already published James VI’s Démonologie (Jérôme Millon, 2010) and Reginald Scot’s La sorcellerie démystifiée (Millon, 2015). He is currently working on the trilogy demonological treatises by Daniel Defoe.

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