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Supernatural and Superstitious Beliefs of Elizabethan England
Transcript of Supernatural and Superstitious Beliefs of Elizabethan England
Even the great Elizabethan dramatist William Shakespeare's play Hamlet features one of literature's most famous ghosts.
Ghosts were said to have died of horrible, violent circumstances.
The Elizabethan era was very violent, and saw many executions and premature deaths of women and men. Because of this Elizabethans were known to believe in ghosts.
Elizabethan Ghosts - these are the men and women who died violently during the life of Queen Elizabeth I and are said to have become ghosts:
The ghost of Sir Walter Raleigh.
In Windsor Castle, the Ghost of Queen Elizabeth I has been seen in the Royal Library.King Henry the VIII has been seen walking the hallways.
Tower of London Ghosts- these were five Tudor/Elizabethan women, all who were beheaded
Catherine Howard, stepmother of Queen Elizabeth.
The ghost of Anne Boleyn, murdered wife of Henry VIII and the mother of Queen Elizabeth I.
The brave old Countess of Salisbury
Lady Jane Grey who was Queen for nine days.
The Ghost of Jane Rochford. Examples of Elizabethan Superstitions Most Elizabethan households were fully stocked with strange superstitions and practices, such as:
horseshoes placed over a door to ward off evil spirits.
a bowl of cream would b e left out for the fairies every night.
a stock pile of charms were placed out to ward off ghosts and witches if they were to come,
astrological almanac on the table
Many beliefs in superstitions lead day to day activities, and gave importance to the most ordinary occurrence.
If an Elizabethan fell from his horse he would carefully note the day and hour of his unlucky fall.
If two friends were together and a child or animal came between them, it meant surely they would be going their separate ways.
Putting a shirt on wrong side out in the morning meant it was going to be a bad day.
Birds held superstition too; a chattering magpie meant a arrival of guests and a croaking raven was a n ominous warning that the bubonic plague was on its way.
Certain days on the month were advisable days for starting a journey, sowing crops, or even cutting fingernails. Background of Elizabethan Superstitions Elizabethan Witches During this time Elizabethans lacked the medical knowledge we do, so they blamed many unexplainable events as the work of witches.
Some events that made witches targets in the Elizabethan era were:
The bubonic plague.
Deaths caused by diseases
Deaths of animals.
White witches - provided help for people through knowledge of healing properties.
Black Witches- Practiced secret arts in order to do physical and practical harm to people.
In the Elizabethan era women were responsible for producing cures as part of their housekeeping, ''Wise women' used herbs for this purpose, they were common ingredients for brews and medical ointments. As the fear of witchcraft grew in Europe, the church included knowledge of herbs for cures part of their definition of witchcraft. Because of this mostly women were accused and charged with being witches.
Those who were accused of witchcraft were generally:
Single women or widows (many kept pets for company - their 'familiars')
There were also a number of superstitions revolving around witchcraft:
. Witches had the ability to fly using broomsticks.
Witches used a huge black pot or cauldron to make and brew their magic potions.
Witches had the ability to change into animal forms like cats, dogs, raven, etc. Religion and Elizabethan Superstition The Protestant Church was set on discouraging the beliefs in superstition and the supernatural. Bishops and village priests preached that belief in witches, fairies, ghosts, and influence of the stars was sinful, and the work of the Devil. But they were preaching to people that wouldn't listen. Even though it was a law, attending Protestant services on Sundays, people didn't go much.
The Catholic Church left the criteria unclear for distinguishing the difference between magic and religion and decided that their ways were worshipful and the other sinful. "Catholic" eventually became compared with superstition by the catholic church. Protestants called the sacraments as "plain devilry witchcraft and all that naught is."
Basically, the Protestant Church went against the Catholic Church saying that their traditions and rituals were superstitious.
People didn't engage in the disputes amongst these two beliefs, all they knew was the world was separated into good and evil. Good was to be embraced, and evil eliminated by whatever means including superstitious magic. Examples of Elizabethan Superstitions (cont..) It was believed that when you open your mouth to sneeze, you give the devil a chance to enter your body and bring about spiritual harm. Saying "bless you" allegedly stops the devils from entering since they thought that no demon could stay in a place that a Christian has blessed.
A pot stirred counter-clockwise brings bad luck to those who ate the contents and this also caused the spoilage of food.
The seventh son of the seventh son is believed to have supernatural powers.
It was also believed that if you touched a man about to be executed, if a cow breathed on you or if you spit into a fire, then you will have good luck. By Dominyque Guangorena Supernatural and Superstitious Beliefs Of Elizabethan England Superstitions are irrational beliefs. In England, during the Elizabethan era, there were also superstitions that they believed in, a handful of them actually still evident in our modern world.
The superstitions of this period dated back to the traditions and beliefs of much earlier times.
These superstitions were steeped in the beliefs of old magic and the mystical properties of animals and herbs.
These superstitions started from having trust in magic or chance.
Basically, the belief that an object, action, or circumstance can influence the outcome even though it is not related to the source of events.
False conception of cause, fear of the unknown and forces out of their control resulted in the Elizabethans' beliefs in superstitions.