Norton moves beyond the immediate vicinity of Salem to demonstrate how the Indian wars on the Maine frontier in the last quarter of that century stunned the collective mindset of northeastern New England and convinced virtually everyone that they were in the devil's snare. But so interesting, and anyone who is curious about the Salem Witch Trials should check this out. Unfortunately, three teenage boys became the prime suspects: Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley. As the dates began to fill in I started to get a sense of how the crisis had developed over time. In her sober recitation of legal and historical detail, even the hysterical fits, ghastly visions, and physical manifestations of supernatural attack eventually begin to sound monotonous. Information about the legal system and the various courts that tried witchcraft cases can be found in the separate introductory essays by Richard B.
Her book is intricate and detailed. The idea of witchcraft seemed to be the only logical answer to the community. This is a comprehensive look at the Salem Witch trials of 1692 that has been meticulously researched and footnoted by an historian who specializes in colonial America. One could only imagine such an environment; surrounded in fear from the inside and out. In emphasizing the importance of religion as a contributor both to Salem Village's factionalism and to the witch hunt of 1692, I do not undervalue other approaches. This book is a dual-narrative of war and witchcraft, Norton's belief is that the Second Indian War laid the groundwork for the crisis to occur. Norton contends that this situation was different because the French and Indians were clearly winning the fight, burning villages and taking captives.
Was there some fungus or other natural phenomenon causing group hallucination? There are many secondary accounts of the early period of the outbreak. However this was still not a fun book to read. Because they wore black and listened to hard rock music, they were outcasts. She writes to say that the women were the major instigators and victims of a public show. At various historical archives I also pursued another line of inquiry, searching for letters from the period to find out what people wrote about the trials. This is not the normal analysis you hear about the Salem Witch Trials, but it definitely should be high on the list.
And the crime detail as a whole is purported to serve the moral purpose of warning readers against becoming victims themselves, rather than against criminal behavior. She explores the role of gossip and delves into the question of why women and girls under the age of twenty-five, who were the most active accusers and who would normally be ignored by male magistrates, were suddenly given absolute credence. For English sixteenth and seventeenth-century witch beliefs, see Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic; Thomas's book offers great insight into the Salem event. Fair warning: this is not an easy read. .
Suddenly, laws were being applied in ways that would have been unthinkable before the attacks. Months later,144 men, women, and children in Salem would be accused of witchcraft or some allegiance with the devil. Even this explanation does not seem to capture the true character of Defoe's relish for these scenes, however. But as far as learning about the witch trials and the events around it this is a good book. So it was no surprise to discover that the devil was not only attacking them in the form of French and Indians, but also attacking them through witches in their midst.
It is definitely worth the read. In our time, groups we had known about, and even helped to fund and create, Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, were suddenly declared supremely evil and the cause of all our fears. Norton's main contribution, outside of her careful detailing of the accusations, trials, and executions, is the weaving in of the Indian Wars that occurred in the decades just prior to the witch crisis, as Norton is attempting to explain why a few initial accusations of witchcraft not unusual at that time blew up into a full-blown crisis. Misspellings and bad grammar and all! In this climate of uncertainty and paranoia, the witch crisis blossomed. Her footnotes are generous and encompassing, and she helpfully indicates where her findings and primary source research conflict and correct previous interpretations. She makes it clear to point out that thirty-eight men were part of accused. After he finished speaking, the young minister withdrew a few steps from the group.
Jacinto truly proves to be a merciless killer when he stabs Conchita, the young woman who was in love with him until she learned of his other impious relationship. One of the most detailed accounts of the Salem Witch Trials I have ever read. These issues needed an explanation. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemly unchanged. Norton is also particularly attentive to the flow of gossip, which enables her to reconstruct the drift of certain accusations from town to town until they took deadly root in Salem. Rather, the events, motives, intrigue, and people are so vivid and complex, they would make for great entertainment, on par with Deadwood, The Tudors, and Game of Thrones, because she covers all of the different cultures and strata of society and weaves them into a flowing, interconnected narrative.
Most books about the trials tend to focus on social aspects of the accusers, the accused and the accusations; why certain people were accused and others not, why certain people confessed or refused to confess, why the most powerful people in the colony were so willing to believe that Satan could be thoroughly bent on the destruction of the Massachusetts colony. This is not the normal analysis you hear about the Salem Witch Trials, but it definitely should be high on the list. Although individual interpretations of the episode differed dramatically, all the existing books told the story in essentially the same way: as a series of legal proceedings examinations and trials of accused women. Norton also looks at how women under the age of twenty five, who would normally be ignored, were given credibility in the Salem Witchcraft trials. Pathologists have noticed that smallpox often inspired panic about malevolent forces. Norton says that accusations of witchcraft rarely resulted in a conviction before 1692. Award-winning historian Mary Beth Norton reexamines the Salem witch trials in this startlingly original, meticulously researched, and utterly riveting study.
The troops, however, proved a mixed blessing to local residents and stimulated great controversy, especially in Black Point. Norton argues that the frequent battles, clashes, massacres, and loses to Native Americans across northern and central New England triggered Salem's hysteria. But this whole subject is hard to diagnose because primary sources are scare and they all require a lot of interpretation. In what amounts to a very convincing political conspiracy theory, Norton suggests that the men presiding over the trials exploited the prevailing public fear and paranoia to divert attention away from their failure to protect the settlers on the northern frontier. Norton thinks that too much attention has been paid over the years to debating the accusers in the trial why did they do it, were they just purely faking it all, etc.
Specifically, the settlements northeast of Salem were engaged in ongoing, bloody warfare with the French and Indians during the trials, and they had been for years. Horrifyingly violent Indian attacks had all but emptied the northern frontier of settlers, and many traumatized refugees—including the main accusers of witches—had fled to communities like Salem. Feminists have illuminated the signs of misogyny in the accusations. I'm fully with her that the context must matter, to some extent, and probably has a lot to do with the willingness of the judges to convict and execute. Secondly, very few Native Americans were singled-out for accusation. Roach, The Salem Witch Trials, contains a great deal of useful biographical information about the accused as well as others involved in the Salem outbreak.