Historical and literary contexts for the Skimmington: impotence and Samuel Butler’s "Hudibras"

Katritzky, M .A. (2014). Historical and literary contexts for the Skimmington: impotence and Samuel Butler’s "Hudibras". In: Sara F., Matthews-Grieco ed. Cuckoldry, Impotence and Adultery in Europe, 15th–17th Century. Visual Culture in Early Modernity. Farnham: Ashgate, pp. 59–84.

URL: http://www.ashgatepublishing.com/default.aspx?page...

Abstract

Magical impotence, the witchcraft crime on which that infamous witch-hunting tool of the inquisition the Malleus Maleficarum most insistently focuses, has left its mark on key works by several English playwrights, including Richard Brome and Thomas Heywood, Thomas Campion, Ben Jonson, Thomas Middleton, and Thomas Shadwell. What link can be found between the works of such playwrights, contemporary events such as court scandals, magical beliefs and medical lore? The Swiss-born physician, traveler and diarist Thomas Platter, who has left a rare record of a 1598 performance of Julius Caesar at London’s Globe Theatre, also wrote a detailed account of the practice and impact of magical impotence as he observed it in a trip through Languedoc. While such observations can help enhance our understanding of the theatrical transposition of cuckoldry and impotence, equally relevant is contemporary historical evidence (such as alleged cases of magically induced impotence in early modern London) and transnational influences on the early modern London stage.

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