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1. the rank, power, or position of a king or queen
a. royal persons collectively
b. one who belongs to the royal family
3. any quality characteristic of a monarch; kingliness or regal dignity
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

European royalty has been associated with witchcraft in various ways over the centuries. Most notably, England's King James I (while still James VI of Scotland) became the object of the North Berwick witches' magical malfeasance under the direction of Francis, Earl of Bothwell in 1590. This led to the king's great fear of witchcraft, which affected even his translation of the Christian Bible. He subsequently enacted the Witchcraft Act of 1604.

Much earlier than that, in the eleventh century, King Cnut had passed a law forbidding paganism, or "heathenism," and those who "worship heathen gods . . . (and) love witchcraft." Henry IV was informed that Lincolnshire was full of witches and sorcerers, and he ordered the bishop of that county to seek them out and imprison them. Henry VIII enacted a law against witchcraft, enchantments, and sorceries, although that was repealed by Edward VI in 1547.

Queen Elizabeth I's reign saw strong efforts to put onto the statute books severe penalties for witchcraft, sorcery, and conjuring in 1563. King Charles I was involved, to a small degree, with the witches of Lancashire in the mid-seventeenth century. During the reigns of Charles II and James II the courts were active in persecuting witchcraft, but none of this was directly connected to the throne. In 1736 George II finally repealed Charles I's Witchcraft Act.

Next to James I's involvement, the most notable royal-pagan connection was with Edward III and the Countess of Salisbury in 1344 and the founding of the Order of the Garter.

Margaret Murray proposed a theory of the divine king, in which she saw as ritual the deaths of King Osred of Northumbria in 792, King Edmund in 946, William Rufus in 1100, and various rulers of France, Scandinavia, and elsewhere. Although she presented interesting evidence for these and other possible divine victims, her theories are generally discounted.

The Witch Book: The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, Wicca, and Neo-paganism © 2002 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
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