Criminal procedures in early Seventeenth-Century Scotland: a medieval legacy? Pleading and proving in the case of Isobel Young, prosecuted for witchcraft (1629)
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date01/07/2028
Bourhis, Julien Jean-Paul
This thesis explores, through a fresh reading of the court proceedings of a witchcraft case, how the procedures that were used to deal with that crime in Scotland may affect our views on Scots criminal law in the early modern period. Witchcraft, it is argued in this thesis, was not as extraordinary as we have been led to believe. By showing that pleading and proving in the case of Isobel Young (1629) stood on a longer history of justice in Scotland and in Europe, the thesis invites us to regard the prosecution of Isobel Young as the recipient of procedures and a law of proof that had durably shaped the development of criminal law in the West since the High Middle Ages. Thus, the way witchcraft was handled at Scots law shared with other crimes a more common procedural ground, and drew on a longer historical tradition of dealing with crimes, than has been considered so far. By throwing light on the Young case, the thesis attempts to restore the place of Scottish witchcraft in the context of its time and to show how the study of these fascinating cases can enrich our knowledge of Scottish legal history.