The Major Works of John Cotta 

The Short Discovery (1612) and The Trial of Witchcraft (1616) 


This volume presents, for the first time, a critical edition of the works of the early modern English physician John Cotta. No mere country doctor, Cotta spoke out eloquently and courageously against what he saw as abuses in medicine and injustices in the prosecution of witchcraft. Read by important thinkers such as Robert Burton in England, and by colonial administrators in New England, Cotta helped shape two of the most important debates of his time. Included are the full texts of Cotta’s Short Discovery and The Trial of Witchcraft, both books painstakingly edited and annotated. Also included is a detailed introduction dealing with Cotta’s medical and religious contexts, his extensive learning and much more.

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Biographical Note
Todd H. J. Pettigrew, PhD (1998) University of Waterloo, is Associate Professor of English and Drama at Cape Breton University. He has pubished numerous articles on renaissance literature and culture and is the author of Shakespeare and the Practice of Physic (University of Delaware Press, 2007). Stephanie M. Pettigrew is a doctoral candidate in History at the University of New Brunswick. Jacques A. Bailly, PhD (1997) is Associate Professor of Classics at The University of Vermont. He is the author of The Socratic Theages: A Commentary (Olms Verlag, 2004).
Table of contents
Abbreviations Used in Notes

 1 An Early Modern English Physician
 2 Cotta and the Medical Landscape
 3 Cotta and Witchcraft
 4 Cotta’s Learning
 5 Cotta’s Style
 6 The Minor Works of John Cotta
 7 A Modern Edition
 8 Preparing the Edition

A Short Discovery of the Unobserved Dangers of Several Sorts of Ignorant and Unconsiderate Practicers of Physic in England

To the right honorable, right worshipful, and worthy gentlemen, my desired friends and deserving patients of Northamptonshire, honor, health and happiness of life
To the Reader

The First Book

1 The Introduction
2 Of the Empiric
3 Women, their custom and practice about the sick, common-visiting counselors, and commenders of medicines
4 Fugitives, workers of juggling wonders, quacksalvers
5 Surgeons
6 Apothecaries
7 Of Practicers by Spells
8 The explication of the true discovery of witchcraft in the sick, together with many and wondered instances of that kind
9 Wizards
10 Servants of Physician, Ministering Helpers

The Second Book

1 The Methodian Learned Deceiver or Heretic Physician
2 Of Beneficed Practicers
3 Of Astrologers, Ephemerides-masters
4 Of Conjectors by Urine
5 Of Travelers

The Third Book

1 The True Artist, His Right Description and Election
2 Of the Physician’s Education
3 Conclusion

The Trial of Witchcraft, Showing the True and Right Method of the Discovery, with a Confutation of Erroneous Ways

To the Right Honorable Sir Edward Coke, Knight, Lord Chief Justice of England and one of his Majesty’s most honorable Privy Council and to the rest of the honorable and worthy judges
To the Reader
1 Of natural knowledge and how it is solely acquired, either by sense or reason or by artificial and prudent conjection
2 That no knowledge can come unto man in any art or science, but by sense or reason, or likely and artificial conjecture, is proved by the science and knowledge of physic instead of all other arts and sciences
3 Whether witchcraft have any other ways or means of investigation than those before mentioned and what is the true investigation
4 Of the works of witches and devils
5 The works of the Devil by himself, solely wrought without the association of man
6 Works done by the Devil, with respect unto covenant with man
7 The works of the Devil or witches manifest to reason, or consequence of reason
8 Of divers kinds and manners, wherein sorcerers and witches receive knowledge from spirits
9 Of wizards and impostors, how they differ from witches
10 How men may by reason and nature be satisfied, concerning such as are indeed and truly bewitched
11 The production of the works of witches and sorcerers, unto the public seat and censure of justice
12 That witches and witchcraft may be discovered by probable reason and presumption
13 The confutation of divers erroneous ways unto the discovery of witches, vulgarly received and approved
14 The casting of witches into the water, scratching, beating, pinching, and drawing of blood of witches
15 The exploration of witches, by supernatural revelations in the bewitched, by signs and secret marks, declared by the bewitched to be in the body of the suspected witch, by the touch of the witch curing the touched bewitched
Appendix 1: Textual Notes
Appendix 2: A Biographical Glossary of Figures Important in Cotta’s Major Works
Those interested in the history of medicine, the history of witchcraft, or the history of early modern Europe, physicians, magic, law, theology, ethics, skepticism, case studies, especially in England, in particular.
Index Card
Collection Information