The roots of the myth
This chapter argues that the remarkable success of the Observations owed much to the subtlety and skill with which its author tapped into a complex web of pre-existent ideas about the supernatural. Notions of the dog as a witch's attendant spirit, or ‘familiar’ – from the trial of Dame Alice Kyteler in 1324-5 right up until the trial of the Lancashire witches in 1634 - are discussed in depth, and particular attention is paid to the possibility that poodles and spaniels may have been regarded with an especially suspicious eye by contemporaries. The influence of a series of polemical works which were produced during 1641-42 – and particularly of the anti-puritan satires of John Taylor, the ‘water poet’ – on the author of the Observations is also explored. 
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