On Tuesday evening Miss Smith took 11 of our Sixth form historians to Guildford to listen to a talk by Dr Clive Holmes from Oxford University on "Why were English witches women?" The lecture was one of a series run by the Historical Association. The topic is outside of the history A level curriculum but our History students were keen to broaden their historical knowledge and to learn more about social history as opposed to the political and military history which tends to dominate A Level syllabi. The speaker was entertaining and captured our imagination with stories of the women accused and of those who were responsible for judging them; men such as Matthew Hopkins, the Witchfinder General. Dr Holmes admitted that it is difficult to answer the question why the vast majority of cases were levelled at women and predominantly old, poor women. He reasoned that in English folklore wise, old women had often been credited with healing powers akin to witchcraft but he blamed the intellectual elite, the theologians for demonising these women and for reinforcing a misogynistic view of women as dangerous instruments of Satan. The History Department will be offering further lectures in the next few months.
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