Elizabethan Persecution

In 1566, during the reign of Elizabeth I, the aversion toward cats reaches new heights in England with the first series of trials due to witchcraft in Chelmsford, Essex (England). There were three accused women: Elizabeth Francis, Agnes (“mother”) Waterhouse and its daughter Joan. They were accused for having had communication with the devil through a spotted white cat, which was named “Satan”.

Agnes Waterhouse was considered guilty and was executed along with her cat.

In the following 20 years there were 150 trials for witchcraft only in the county of Essex.

A witch trial in Windsor in 1579 confessed having a demon in form of cat whom she fed daily with bread and milk mixed with her own blood.

In 1646 a woman explained to the jury that a witch had taught her that if she wanted someone to die she should pronounce a malediction, to prick a finger and to let the cat lick the blood.

In 1622, a Scottish witch, Isabel Gowdie, explained in a trial that she could transform into a cat and to recover her human form at will and even repeated the magic words that she used.

Judges and magistrates were predisposed to hear statements about cats that jumped through open windows, picked up catch bolts or did any kind of normal activity of a cat and to attribute them all kinds of evil and supernatural powers.

Once in a while cats where arrogated with more ambitious accomplishments. On the English locality of Leyland, Lancashire, there exist a legend in which the stones of the church had been taken there from whittle, at some kilometers of distance. They told that the devil would go there every night in the form of a cat to do this shore, stone by stone. Anyone who would try to interfere would die strangled.

Finally the constructors decided to build the church in the place elected by the devil.

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