Presenter: Debra Parish (Confirmation milestone seminar)

Anna Trapnel achieved notoriety in her time as a visionary and prophet. Her visions and prophetic declarations, which were recorded and published, drew upon scriptural imagery and warned that all earthly powers would be torn down as Christ would return to rule over all. Trapnel was aware of the vulnerability of her prophetic status and that her utterances would draw opposition from those religious and political powers whose authority she questioned, and that she would be open to the accusation of witchcraft. This thesis examines Trapnel’s shifting public identity from prophet to witch within the context of English Civil war division and debate. It will argue that witchcraft language and accusations used against Trapnel, and other contemporary women who identified as prophets, must be situated in this context of division and power struggle where, it will be demonstrated, witchcraft discourse was used broadly, in a range of texts and debates, as a construct and strategy to discredit opponents and to exert political and religious power.