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How to Rule a Magical World: Europe, 1400–1700

Thursday, 27 October 2022, 4 – 5:30pm

How to Rule a Magical World: Europe, 1400-1700

Prof. Julian Goodare (University of Edinburgh) will deliver the keynote address of the "Demons: Good and Bad" interdisciplinary conference, organised by the School of Religion, Theology, and Peace Studies and funded by the Trinity Long Room Hub Research Incentive Scheme.

How could you rule a magical world – a world pervaded by supernatural powers? You would have to make sure that people didn’t use illicit supernatural powers in antisocial ways. In particular, you would have to make sure that they didn’t use illicit supernatural powers subversively, against your own authority. But your main strategy for ruling successfully would be to get the best and strongest supernatural powers onto your side, while regulating or repressing anything that might be evil or might get out of control.

In this lecture, Prof. Goodare will sketch the various types of magical or supernatural power that godly rulers sought to regulate in early modern Europe. He will discuss both the control of elite magic and the control of popular magic. The focus on power is important. Early modern courts and institutions could be sites for power struggles over magic. Official demonology insisted that all magic was bad unless the authorities sanctioned it – but official demonology, while hegemonic, was never uncontested, nor did it always penetrate into systems of local government. And there were alternative demonologies, both elite and popular, that engaged differently with the magical world, taking a broader view of the legitimacy of magical power. Finally, Prof. Goodare will offer a small contribution to the ‘disenchantment debate’ by glancing at the processes that eventually began to reduce the authorities’ fear of illicit supernatural power. The magical world was becoming easier to rule.

Julian Goodare is Emeritus Professor of History, University of Edinburgh. He is author of The European Witch-Hunt (2016). His recent edited books include Demonology and Witch-Hunting in Early Modern Europe (2020; co-edited with Rita Voltmer and Liv Helene Willumsen), The Supernatural in Early Modern Scotland (2020; co-edited with Martha McGill) and Scottish Witches and Witch-Hunters (2013; editor). He is director of the online Survey of Scottish Witchcraft.

Register here.

Campus LocationTrinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Institute
Accessibility: Yes
Room: Online
Event Category: Arts and Culture, Conferences, Lectures and Seminars
Type of Event: One-time event
Audience: Researchers, Faculty & Staff, Public
Cost: Free but registration is essential
Contact Name: Prof Hadromi-Allouche

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