Jacobean people were very religious and god fearing. However, they also believed in the existence of witches and witchcraft. In fact, the concept of witchcraft prevailant during this period was influenced by beliefs of the people belonging to the Tudor dynasty period.
Witchcraft was and is still normally associated with evil or something demonic and the people practicing it are considered to have such dark powers. Jacobean people looked up the witches as a person who causes harms to others or who destroys property and causes menace. King James I strongly believed that witches and witchcraft existed.
Jacobean Views on Witchcraft
After coming to power, he brought into effect an Act which made witchcraft during Jacobean times an offence. Those who were found guilty of practicing witchcraft were either awarded death or their property was seized. King James I also wrote a treatise on witchcraft during his reign.
German woodcut depicting the Pope as a devil. Cross replaced by a curved pitchfork and a noose draped round it.
The common belief among the masses was that it was mainly women who practiced witchcraft. However, some sections also believed that men, although in smaller number were involved in the activity. People were generally scared of those who they believed were the practitioners of witchcraft. It is also true that the alleged men and women who were involved in the activity of witchcraft were hunted down and killed by people.
It was assumed that by doing so evil or bad things would be prevented. Torture was a common method adopted to extract confessions about the practice of witchcraft. These witches were even hanged to death as a means of punishment. In fact, the rate of persecution of the witches was extremely high during the Jacobean rule.
Witchcraft in Macbeth
The idea of the existence of witches was further boosted by popular Shakespearean play like Macbeth. Some people opined that witchcraft is nothing but a mere superstition which had developed into a strong belief because of the years of history wherein witchcraft was believed to have existed and it also provided for remedies to get rid of the so called witches.
Despite these views of a few people, it was a well accepted notion that witches existed and they carried out the witchcraft within their houses or at secret locations.