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Witchcraft on the High Seas

King James and the North Berwick Witch Trials

By Carolyn Emerick

[Snip] It is known that King James met with Niels Hemmingsen, a Danish Lutheran theologian and expert on demonology. Hemmingsen had written a book on the topic in 1575. So while we can’t say for certain what the two discussed, it has been speculated that James adopted the notion of “the satanic pact” from Hemmingsen.

This is the idea that witches make a deal with a devil in return for power, a key belief of witch-hunters at the time (but one that is not believed by modern scholars to have had any reality in the actual practices of the accused).

James was fascinated by what he learned in Denmark. He must have felt that his eyes were opened to a whole new world of evil existing right under his nose all along. Always eager to learn new subjects, James apparently absorbed this knowledge hungrily.

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