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Journal > Volumes > 44 (2013) / 1 (Spring)
Tanglost of Wales: Magic and Adultery in the Court of Chancery circa 1500
Kathleen Kamerick
University of Iowa

Around 1500 Bishop John Morgan of St. David’s diocese in Wales submitted a bill to court of Chancery accusing a Welsh woman named Tanglost of attempting to murder him by image magic and as the adulterous lover of Thomas Wyrriot, a gentleman of Pembrokeshire, whose wife Tanglost had likely murdered. This essay examines how Tanglost’s case illuminates the intersection of three significant tensions in late medieval Britain. First was the growing fear of women’s magic as a weapon aimed against the state and church; the second resulted from clerical efforts to enforce the canon law of marriage, especially in Wales where tradition allowed a wider range of sexual partnerships. The third stemmed from Henry VII’s efforts to secure Wales, where resistance to his rule remained. Opposition to Morgan, Henry’s appointee, looked suspiciously like opposition to Tudor rule. Far more than an indictment of a village witch, Tanglost’s case reveals powerful political and social currents of the early Tudor era.

Pages: 25 - 45