Toward the end of the 1628 pamphlet A Briefe Description of the Notorious Life of Iohn Lambe, the pamphleteer describes the violence a crowd inflicts on John Lambe, a cunning man who dabbled in the dark arts. This violence, ultimately fatal, seems to be a response to Lambe's rape of an eleven-year-old child, a rape which he is convicted of but ultimately pardoned for. Earlier in his career, however, Lambe is indicted for using magic to disable the body of a gentleman as well as for invoking evil spirits. What connection exists between the charges against Lambe as a witch and magician and the charges against him as a rapist? This essay argues that long before Lambe gives those around him a basis for violence, he triggers anxieties about what he is, and that these anxieties play a role in the violence against him. The text of A Briefe Description demonstrates the way mechanisms of justice ultimately repeat—reenact and perform—versions of the crimes they seek to examine.
Wicked Mysteries and Notorious Conjurors: Magic, Rape, and Violence in Two Early Modern Pamphlets
Laura Levine; Wicked Mysteries and Notorious Conjurors: Magic, Rape, and Violence in Two Early Modern Pamphlets. Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 1 September 2021; 51 (3): 533–551. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10829636-9295058
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