Monthly Archives: August 2012

To what extent were witchcraft accusations rooted in local anxiety over scarce economic resources?

Another guest article this week, this time by Niamh Brown, about witchcraft in England.

Witchcraft accusations in early modern England had a number of motivations; the common factor among them was the element of unrest within the local community.  This strife had a variety of potential causes; whilst scarce economic resources were certainly a contributing factor, this is by no means the only, or indeed the most important trigger for witchcraft accusations.   The crisis in gender relations believed by many historians to exist during the early modern period; social friction caused by the emergence of the middling sort and a new set of attitudes to the poor; or simply the disputes and enmities inevitable in smaller communities all played a part in prompting allegations of maleficium.  Beyond the immediate causes of witchcraft accusations, it is important to examine why these accusations had credibility; as Malcolm Gaskill argues, it is too easy to dismiss witchcraft accusations or confessions as the symptom of hysteria or mental illness.[1] Rather than accept this rather patronising view of early modern witch beliefs, it is important to place them in their context to find the root of why witchcraft was a feasible explanation for misfortune and why people confessed to this witchcraft, surprisingly often without pressure from external sources.

This essay will argue that local anxiety over scarce economic resources had only a small influence on witchcraft accusation. Rather, the key to explaining witchcraft accusations lies in existence and persistence of various mythologies pertaining to witchcraft throughout the social spectrum.  This allowed for a society with a belief in witchcraft which helped to provide a language through which the gender struggle, local disputes, social shifts and concerns over economic difficulty – in that order of precedence, beginning with the most important – could be expressed or explained.  Furthermore, these witch beliefs provided a means of power, both for accused and persecutor, which they might otherwise be denied; this explains why many of the reasons for allegations of witchcraft have their basis in some sort of power struggle, whether between gender, social class or individuals.

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Review of FightCamp 2012

A guest review of last weekend’s FightCamp 2012 event, written by Reinis Rinka from the Academy of Historical Arts.

Somehow it has happened that I’ve been entrusted with the writing of this review of Fight Camp 2012. I’ve no idea why your trusty bloggers decided to pull such a stunt, considering English isn’t my native language and this is my first time posting on EIS. As much as they knew, I could have been as eloquent as a foul-mouthed fifth grader. Luckily for you I’m slightly better than that and hopefully this review will do Fight Camp justice.

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Absolute Monarchy in the Early Modern Period

What Were the Strengths and Weaknesses of  ‘Absolute Monarchy’ as a Principle of Government in the Early Modern Period?

Throughout the early modern period, absolute monarchy was the standard method of government in the western world. One monarch, chosen usually by lineage and right of birth as opposed to election, would rule a set territory. This monarchy would be without ‘any limitations set down in a constitution.’[1] Amongst the most notable absolute monarchs of the early modern period are Joseph II, Frederick the Great, Catherine the Great and Louis XIV and although most historians claim that England never had an absolute monarchy both the Tudor dynasty and Charles I display many of the characteristics of an absolute monarchy.

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The defensive advantage, the Vor, and the master strikes

This week, I’m going to continue to develop some of the ideas that I talked about in my last two posts:

http://www.encasedinsteel.co.uk/2012/05/18/principles-and-the-book-of-martial-power/

http://www.encasedinsteel.co.uk/2012/06/22/rushing-forward-and-besieging/

Specifically, I’ll be talking about the ideas relate to the Vor. I’m also going to be discussing my ideas on how the master strikes fit in with those ideas. For a recent discussion on principles and their application to the master strikes, see Keith’s post about them:

http://www.encasedinsteel.co.uk/2012/07/13/principles-behind-the-master-strikes/

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Time Requirements in the Practice of Martial Arts

A question that I deal with on a regular basis in the Academy of Historical Arts is the issue of time requirements in the practice of our activities. The question is posed often by students, and also comes up every time the senior instructors discuss the syllabus from which our historical fencing programme is taught. I was also asked similar questions when I taught karate regularly, as people wanted to know how long I thought it might take them to reach whatever belt level.

In some ways I am very much against the notion of time requirements. However, in other ways I think that people do indeed need to put in time to achieve something worthwhile. This article will seek to look at the advantages and disadvantages of time requirements in the practice of martial arts, and in what ways such time requirements might manifest themselves.

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