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  • Published: 29 August 2013
  • ISBN: 9781448163465
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 320


A Tale of Sorcery, Scandal and Seduction

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

September 1613.

In Belvoir Castle, the heir of one of England's great noble families falls suddenly and dangerously ill. His body is 'tormented' with violent convulsions. Within a few short weeks he will suffer an excruciating death. Soon the whole family will be stricken with the same terrifying symptoms. The second son, the last male of the line, will not survive.

It is said witches are to blame. And so the Earl of Rutland's sons will not be the last to die.

Witches traces the dramatic events which unfolded at one of England's oldest and most spectacular castles four hundred years ago. The case is among those which constitute the European witch craze of the 15th-18th centuries, when suspected witches were burned, hanged, or tortured by the thousand. Like those other cases, it is a tale of superstition, the darkest limits of the human imagination and, ultimately, injustice - a reminder of how paranoia and hysteria can create an environment in which nonconformism spells death. But as Tracy Borman reveals here, it is not quite typical. The most powerful and Machiavellian figure of the Jacobean court had a vested interest in events at Belvoir.He would mastermind a conspiracy that has remained hidden for centuries.

  • Published: 29 August 2013
  • ISBN: 9781448163465
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 320

About the author

Tracy Borman

Tracy Borman studied and taught history at the University of Hull and was awarded a PhD in 1997. She went on to a successful career in heritage, and is now Chief Executive of the Heritage Education Trust and interim Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces.

Tracy is the author of a number of highly acclaimed books, including Matilda: Queen of the Conqueror and Elizabeth’s Women, which was Book of the Week on Radio 4.She regularly appears on television and radio, and is a contributor to BBC History Magazine.Tracy gives public talks and lectures across the country on a wide range of subjects. She lives in Surrey with her daughter.

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Praise for Witches

Borman provides a fascinating account of the circumstances surrounding the case.

Amanda Foreman, Mail on Sunday

Moving and spirited.

Anne Somerset, Literary Review

A tantalising history... A panoramic survey of the witch craze that swept through Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries.

John Carey, Sunday Times


Thomas Quinn, Big Issue

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

This is an entertaining piece of research that brings back to life three women who had the misfortune to live during a period that was terrified of the unknown and sought to tame that fear by turning it into a handful of dust.

Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, Telegraph

As a work on the horrific treatment of witches throughout history, in particular the 16th and 17th centuries, it is shocking and illuminating.

Caroline Jowett, Scottish Daily Express

Fascinating history of witchcraft in England. An immensely readable and never less than gripping account of a society in flux and the women who suffered to enable its stability.

Sara Keating, Sunday Business Post

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


Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, Weekly Telegraph

This is history at its most disturbing, and yet also most interesting.

Steve Craggs, UK Regional Press

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 tells this strange, compelling and ultimately inconclusive story.

Diane Purkiss, Independent

Borman's enthusiasm and diligence keeps the history in place, while the central story, and the mysteries, lies and obfuscations that surround it, add a flavour of the detective novel.

Michael Noble, Starburst


Daily Telegraph

The interest here lies in the accurate and plausible portrait of a whole society, from top to bottom. The details are fascinating


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