Witchcraft and Demonic Possession in Early Modern England

Although accounts of witchcraft and demonic possession can be found from virtually all cultures around the world, in the wake of the Reformation and the European wars of religion in the fifteenth century, accusations of witchcraft and instances of demonic possession reached fever pitch. This was particularly the case in early modern England.

Philip Almond discusses such phenomena not by providing any “slick” answers which explain them in simple sociological terms, but by looking at the “familiar cultural script” that played out in most instances of possession, and by keeping in mind the broader social context in which accusations of witchcraft were made (including the “strategic interests” of many accusers).

This interview is a distillation of Professor Almond’s recent publications on religious history in early modern England, and also includes discussion of his newly released work: The Devil: A New Biography.

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