Witches: A Tale of Sorcery, Scandal and Seduction

Image supplied by Tracy Borman

Borman published Witches: A Tale of Sorcery, Scandal and Seduction in August 2013 and after reading a review of it in the Sunday Times during a lunch break I went out and bought it. As this book is about witch trials it is associated in my mind with October and Halloween. When looking out my seasonal books for display this one is always in the mix and always gets me in the mood for harvest.

In the UK we have a few famous witch trial stories, arguably the most famous being the North Berwick Witch Trail which Shakespeare adapted into Macbeth. But what of the Witches of Belvoir? I hadn’t heard much about this but the story is fascinating. The Belvoir Witches were a mother and her two daughters who were accused of using witchcraft to cause the deaths of the 6th Earl of Rutland’s two heirs in 1613, who’s seat is Belvoir Castle. What makes this story so compelling? Apart from the scandal involving a great aristocratic family the accused confessed! Not only did they confess they complained in court that the devil hadn’t come to rescue them. An open and shut case surely? Enter stage right, the Duke of Buckingham – a rascal of a man, the Duke wanted Rutlands daughter as his wife, going so far as to taint her honor. And with Rutland’s heirs dead, that would make the daughter the heir apparent. The Duke of Buckingham theory I believe is Borman’s interpretation. I know that in the 1600’s there was a high rate of infant/child mortality and perhaps the boys were never murdered at all. The first 200 pages of the book is a well-research history of the witch trail craze and I learned a lot I didn’t know before. As to whether I have been convinced that the Duke of Buckingham is the one to blame, my mind changes from day to day. It’s similar to King Richard the III murdering the princes in the tower. In both cases, there was something to gain by the boy’s deaths….. I guess I’ll have to wait for a body in the car park (or under the tower steps), so to speak. Regardless, Borman’s book is a favorite and after writing this, with the wind and rain howling on my living room window, its time for a blanket, Earl Grey and my well-read copy to come down of the bookshelf again!

Tracy Borman knows her stuff and has made a name for herself in the heritage world as she is a joint Cheif Curator of Historic Royal Palaces and Cheif Executive of the Heritage Education Trust. She has also published several other books such as Elizabeth’s Women: Hidden Story of the Virgin Queen and The King’s Witch. If you haven’t read her works I highly recommend that you do.

Author: Zoe Pollock

I love reading books and all things book related!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *