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Church politics, sectarianism, and judicial terror: The Scottish witch-hunt, 1563 - 1736

Parashar Kulkarni and Steven Pfaff

Explorations in Economic History, 2022, vol. 84, issue C

Abstract: We examine a tumultuous period in Scottish history beginning from the Reformation in 1560 until a few years after the Revolution of 1688. During this period, the Crown repeatedly provoked political crises by attempting to impose an episcopal structure on the Church of Scotland. Using time series data of witch accusations, we find that the Scottish Presbyterians were substantially more active in persecuting alleged witches during periods when they were excluded from power. Although monopoly churches can be instruments of state-making and social order, our results show that the disciplinary instruments of an established church can be turned against the state. In polities divided by factional religious conflict the suppression of sectarian groups can lead them to impose religious discipline as a counterweight to state formation.

Keywords: Z120 cultural economics: Religion; N430 economic history: Government; War; Law; International relations; Regulation: Europe: Pre-1913 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1016/j.eeh.2022.101447

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