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The son of Mary Queen of Scots, known as James VI, King of Scotland (1567), and James I, King of England, Scotland and Ireland (1603). By the time James VI became James I of England, he was avidly interested in using scientific principles to prove or disprove witchcraft charges. James' interest in the efficacy of witches appears to have begun during the storms he encountered at sea while he sailed back from Denmark with his 15 year old wife Queen Anne. The captain of the ship blamed witches for the bad weather. James personally interrogated witches from the town of Trenton, including Gellis Duncane, Agnes Sampson (of Paddignton), Agnes Tompson (of Edinbrough), and Dr. Fian (an account featured in Newes From Scotland (1591)) Soon after, he wrote _Dmonologie_ (1597) while still in Scotland, a text which promoted the belief that female witches were the Devils students and servants; the Devil gave witches image magic, medicinal magic, and poisons with which to harm their enemies. In the Act of 1604, James I of England expanded the definition of witchcraft to include more specific crimes, and a more European understanding of maleficium; causing personal injury, the conjuration of spirits, and the use of corpses in magic became capital offenses. This new Act also divided the crime, creating first-degree and second-degree witchcraft. It is hard to know how much influence _Dmonologie_ had, although it was reprinted after James English coronation (1603), or how much influence the 1604 Witchcraft Act had. It would appear that once in print, these texts took on a life of their own, quite apart from the wishes of the King who invoked them. James' own interest in witchcraft soon faded; he would be key in exposing fraudulent witchcraft charges asserted by Anne Gunter in 1605, John Smith in 1616, and Katherine Malpas in 1621. The King also allegedly held somewhat of a mischievous side, encouraging an "imposture" in his court to call out the name of the knight Sir John, in order to get Sir John "to stamp with madness," and find himself unable to ever begin discourse with the King due to constant interruption.()
Wormald, Jenny. King James. Online: 2008 (Online Edition),
||King James I