Counterfeit beggars, bogus cunning folk and bigamists
in Impostures in early modern England
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This chapter examines counterfeit beggars, bigamists and bogus cunning folk in early modern England. It argues that descriptions of false beggars and vagabonds from the late Middle Ages indicate a change in perception of the phenomenon and (re-)introduced motifs which can be found in representations throughout the early modern period. The chapter explains that cunning men and women were often labelled impostors, not because their claims were held irrational and superstitious, but because they had misused belief and trust in the real power of other practitioners. It also discusses the strategies of bigamists and polygamists inveigling their future bride or groom, and highlights the similarities among these types of people, suggesting that they all represented a threat to social order.

Impostures in early modern England

Representations and perceptions of fraudulent identities

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