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Travesties and Transgressions in Tudor and Stuart EnglandTales of Discord and Dissension$
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David Cressy

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198207818

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198207818.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 03 December 2021

Agnes Bowker's Cat: Childbirth, Seduction, Bestiality, and Lies

Agnes Bowker's Cat: Childbirth, Seduction, Bestiality, and Lies

(p.9) 1: Agnes Bowker's Cat: Childbirth, Seduction, Bestiality, and Lies
Travesties and Transgressions in Tudor and Stuart England

David. Cressy

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the claims and confusions that resulted from when a woman in Harborough, Leicestershire, in 1569 allegedly gave birth to a cat. It includes testimonies from midwives and market women, servants and shopkeepers, clerics and magistrates, and from the woman, Agnes Bowker, herself. The story troubled local officials to the extent that they referred it to higher authorities, the case eventually reaching the attention of Queen Elizabeth's Privy Council and the Bishop of London. One of the investigators of this incident declared that ‘there is nothing so secret it shall not be made open’, but even he was uncertain what actually to believe. The convolutions of the story raise challenging questions about credulity and credibility, and the processing of doubtful information.

Keywords:   Agnes Bowker, childbirth, seduction, bestiality, Leicestershire, Agnes Bowker's cat

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