IT has become something of a tradition in contemporary scholarship about Reginald Scot's The Discoverie of Witchcraft, first published in 1584, that all copies of it were burned on the order of King James I of England on his accession to the English throne in 1603. Most modern scholars believe that the tradition cannot be traced further back than 1659, and consequently admit to some doubt about the veracity of this tradition. Thus, for example, in the entry on Scot in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, David Wootton writes, ‘It is often asserted that James ordered that all copies be burnt when he came to the English throne but there is no contemporary evidence to support this story.’1 Similarly, Malcolm Gaskill in his entry on James in the Encyclopedia...

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