The Pendle Witch Child

2011 ,    »  -   17 Comments
492
8.27
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Ratings: 8.27/10 from 143 users.
Storyline
The Pendle Witch Child

It's 1612 and a woman is in a courtroom. She's accused of killing three men through witchcraft. She's presented with a confession that she denies, then a girl is brought to testify against her. The girl bursts into tears as the woman screams at her desperately, and the woman is removed back to the dungeon.

Once the girl has her audience she jumps upon to a table and calmly denounces the woman as a witch. She's the woman's own daughter and she's nine years old. Jennet Device was a key witness in a trial that would lead to the execution of 10 people, including all members of her own family. But twenty years later, Jennet herself would come to be standing in the court charged with the same offense.

Jennet, a nine year old beggar, was part of a bigger story - of justicers, clerics, and physicians, even the king himself. Someone who would normally have been lost to history has lived on because of a chilling role in one of the most disturbing witch trials on record.

This is a story about fear, politics, religion, science and magic. But it's also about words and stories and just how powerful they can be. The two trials that shaped the life of this little girl are emblematic of a much bigger story - the transition between a pre-modern world and a supposed age of reason. And yet our fear of evil has never really gone away... neither, some say, has evil itself.

Fear of evil was endemic in England, four hundred years ago, when King James I was on the throne. James was living in fear of Catholic rebellion in the aftermath of the Gunpowder Plot. Recently arrived from Scotland he was on the throne in a strange land and some parts of his new kingdom were particularly troubling.

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17 Comments / User Reviews

  1. jonathon wisnoski

    Moral of the story, don't turn your back on little girls.

  2. dmxi

    "off with their heads,i say!"
    -the smirking one -

  3. bringmeredwine

    This was an interesting little history lesson.
    I enjoyed it.
    I'd heard of the Salem witch trials (have been to Salem), but never knew the tale of Jennet Device.

  4. Guest

    Ha!

    The name Emily seems to ring a bell on that one
    ;-p

  5. ~Oliver B Koslik Esq

    Its unfortunate to see the prevalence of that very same culture still alive and present in today's culture.

    Especially in the prevalence of such texts as The King James Bible. Whats even more disappointing, is that many people whom read and heed such texts, will never have the where with all, to actually investigate the authors (personal history), and their ideals.

    There are still remanence of witch hunts today. Especially in the mentalities of those whom have similar faith based beliefs, mentioned in this Doc. If you look close enough; in media, society and popular culture you can find examples such as COPS or AMW.
    As well as how the media "front pages" people caught for various crimes. Its all a propagation of how punitive the community (ie. GOD) can be, in its ultimate wisdom of "group think".

    I have written on the topic of "21st Century Witch Hunts". Where I explain how vigilantism (including Gang stalking [a.k.a. Community Mobbing]) as the fore front in such immoral & illegal practices.

    Great Documentary!
    Great Website!!!
    Many thx TDF!
    +1

  6. jaberwokky

    Odd little doc. Interesting how the story is framed as part of a climate of fear reaction in the aftermath of the gunpowder plot and how that parallels with recent events. Very telling when the King's physician confronts the woman with her dissected toad.

  7. MAllen Documentaires

    If only film was availbe back then.

  8. Horst Manure

    The yanks decide Russia had more Subs they they could see so spent millions trying to find out who Russia made their subs disappear some time later the experts decided that the amount of Subs USA could see was all Russia had, so even today people can get caught up in myths follow the leader.

  9. Jack1952

    I read the story of the boy and the two so-called witches when I was a little guy...around eleven or twelve years old. It was an introduction to a short biography of William Harvey. I had forgotten all about it until seeing this video. It was in a book of biographies about great men of science. That was fifty years ago. It brought an incredible sense of deja vu.

  10. Kansas Devil

    Superstition is a very powerful foe. If not for the constant assault of factual education, society would quickly fall prey to it's influence.

  11. ChefBryn

    i'd have been tortured and burnt at the stake if i were born in medieval times. Lets say i'm not a fan of religion

  12. Jo McKay

    ahh the convenience of hind-sight ... 200 years earlier, another famous witch/heretic is tried before a religious and secular court; 20 years later Joan D'arc is re-tried 'carefully' and posthumously. Carefully because there are still many powerful people in powerful positions who participated; these accusers must not be named or shamed (too big to jail don't you know). In Joan's re-trial her innocence is 'uncovered' and the promise of justice restored right? (Tho' her condemners stay free and she is still dead - the 'other' convenient hammer of the religious, "yes she is dead, but now she lives for eternity with GOD"- so basically we did her a favour, but I digress)... then from 1430's to child accusers of 1630's - 20 years on from the ambitious clerics trumped up trial, science and reason and common sense finally triumphs and the future for justice and freedom from wrongful incrimination looks bright - right? ... 60 years and cross the sea in a new land of fairness and freedom from persecution comes 'salem' and then...slavery...child labour...disenfranchisement of women, first peoples...the poor...disabled...immigrants...inequality rises...and rises...and rises. Is there more justice, more reason, more freedoms and rights today? (yes maybe, a very little improvement...and much better 'smoke n' mirrors). Best part of history is how clear the injustice appears...our challenge perhaps, is to look at our current affairs through the clearer glass of historic sight? Excellent and relevant doc.

  13. Jo McKay

    ...or go horse back 'riding' with 10 year old boys!

  14. truthseekah

    "Facts" are many times subjective or are blatant lies. The concept of "to the victors go the spoils" sheds some light on the manipulation of reality over the millennia.

  15. Sarah Beverly

    I really dislike how they say witches are bad, and cunning women are good. Witches are all good... And fyi... both are the same, witches!

  16. Richard Neva

    That description was so through that I do not have to watch this film, thanks!

  17. god

    crazy people caused this mentalist thinking,and you are the little girl. please think about what i say deeeeply.

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