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The Witches of Lorraine$
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Robin Briggs

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780198225829

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198225829.001.0001

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Close Readings: Themes and Variations

Close Readings: Themes and Variations

(p.92) 4 Close Readings: Themes and Variations
The Witches of Lorraine

Robin Briggs (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the problems in reading documents of witchcraft trials. It looks at the style and content of depositions, interrogations, and confessions, in order to probe the degree to which they can be regarded as reliable evidence, whether for events or for attitudes and beliefs. It argues that although the trial records provide historians with far the largest body of evidence, they are also full of hazards for the unwary investigator. Examples are presented to give a sense of the problems and the approaches that have been taken to them. They also cast light on a range of other issues, such as the identity and numbers of witnesses, the possible role of local elites, and the balance between rich and poor.

Keywords:   documents, witchcraft trials, trial records, witnesses

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