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Impostures in Early Modern EnglandRepresentations and Perceptions of Fraudulent Identities$
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Tobias B. Hug

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780719079849

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: July 2012

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719079849.001.0001

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Counterfeit beggars, bogus cunning folk and bigamists

Counterfeit beggars, bogus cunning folk and bigamists

Chapter:
(p.17) Chapter 1 Counterfeit beggars, bogus cunning folk and bigamists
Source:
Impostures in Early Modern England
Author(s):

Tobias B. Hug

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7228/manchester/9780719079849.003.0002

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.

Keywords:   counterfeit beggars, bogus cunning folk, bigamists, polygamists, England, social order

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