In 1590 James VI of Scotland got married. His wife was a Protestant princess. She had been raised in a Lutheran court. The dowry of £150,000 helped as did a hand full of islands including Orkney which Scotland already held but which now legally became Scottish rather than Scandinavian.
It began as a love story. James wrote to his fourteen year old bride and fell so in love with her that when bad weather prevented her from reaching Scotland, he himself took to the sea so that he could reach Anne who had arrived safely in Oslo rather than remain on a vessel which had almost foundered in the storm. Having been married the pair returned to Denmark where James developed an interest in witchcraft – he went on to write a text entitled Daemonologie.
The Danish minister of financed faced criticism for not properly outfitting the vessel.The Danish admiral responsible for conveying Anne to Norway rather than Edinburgh blamed a Copenhagen witch rather than bad weather or his own seafaring skills. The woman, Anna Koldings was the wife of a burgess with whom the admiral had quarrelled confessed to being a witch…under torture. It was an impressive story. Apparently the witch responsible for the storm has sent little devils in wheelbarrows across the sea. They then climbed up the keels of the fleet which was transporting Anne and caused the storm. In September 1590 she was burned to death. Eleven other women, including the wife of the burgomaster, were also executed because quite clearly transporting demons in empty barrows across the sea would require the efforts of more than one woman.
When James returned to Scotland his interest in the topic of witches was well and truly alight. The Kirk was delighted as they had been keen on the topic of witches for some considerable time. Now that the king was on board the way was clear to start the bonfires. In North Berwick a coven was unmasked and James was amazed when they repeated conversations that he had in Norway – the burnings began. The North Berwick trials ran for two years and more than seventy people were implicated.