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The Devils Disciples

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The Devils Disciples

King James II’s rise to power in the 1680s became an extremely turbulent time for all under his reign. This was primary due to Catholic versus Protestant relations. Unlike his brother Charles II, James II openly professed his Catholic beliefs and granted religious freedom to all. Aside from religious toleration, his appointing of Catholics to high government posts enraged the Protestant colonialists even more. One individual was Governor Andros. He wrongfully imposed taxes, took way self-governing systems, ended jury trials, and oppressed Puritan beliefs.

Peter Hoffer gives the reader an account of the Salem witch trials through the story of the Barbadian minister Parris, his daughter Betty, and his slave Tituba. In certain places, he eludes to mini-stories and small history explanations to help the reader better understand the Puritans way of thinking and Titunba’s African back round. Parris is called to Salem Town for a temporary position. However, through a town feud between two powerful Puritan families, Parris’ position soon becomes permanent. Like all small Puritan villages, Salem Town is a struggling Utopia. After James II leaves the throne, Governor Andros is murdered. The evasive Utopia, lost governor, struggling economy, cold winters, and deadly sicknesses that plague Salem Town put the residences faith to a test.

One might ask why the Puritans, a religious sect thought to be quite holy, should have the most witchery. Hoffer explains how the Puritans “holy” attitudes and beliefs are partially the cause of their problems. Each Puritan village is a highly structured and disciplined society. The goal of each of these settlements is to achieve Utopia or something close to it. They fail to reach anything close. Because of this, many Puritans blame their problems on outside forces. Although somewhat educated, they attribute any discrepancies as the Devil’s work. More often than not, the victims were women and the suspects were women, raving the possibility that witchery and accusations of witchery were the way the struggling Puritans coped with their situation. This in not to say the belief in witches came about during this time. The belief in witches was widespread long before the witch trials. In fact, the government recognized its presence by making “malefician” (bad magic) a felony. Witches were said to have certain meeting places, which were never actually seen, in which they held secret meetings and unholy rituals.

Although no one ever saw a real witch gathering, this superstition was a mainstream belief.
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