Witchcraft and the Early Modern Satan


In the second of his talks on the Devil, author and journalist Gavin Baddeley discusses the post-medieval period – c1450-1700 – often referred to by historians as the Early Modern Era. But modernity was not to enjoy an easy birth, and fuelled by the black powder of new military technology and the black ink of the printing press, Europe was convulsed with barbaric violence. The worst of it manifested as religious conflict, where rival Christian denominations vied for spiritual dominance. In a world where the pious habitually tortured and butchered each other over details of holy doctrine, could there be any room, or indeed need, for a Prince of Darkness?

The answer, Gavin assures us, is yes. Countless people were brutalised and often burnt alive, accused of serving the Devil in the historical horror show, now frequently referred to as ‘the Witch Craze’. It claimed countless innocent lives, but just how many remains a point of contention, as does almost every other aspect of the Early Modern witch trials. Indeed the historiography – or history of the history of – witchcraft is almost as strange and fervid as the history of witchcraft itself. Witches have now been reinvented so many times, to suit so many causes, that they are now almost unrecognisable. In our talk, Gavin focuses on the oft overlooked Satanic aspect of the phenomenon, before examining some of the other colourful individuals accused of being in league with Lucifer, from pirates and perverts, to court magicians and conjurors.

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Gavin Baddeley is an author, journalist, and occult historian, whose works include LUCIFER RISING, SAUCY JACK, and THE GOSPEL OF FILTH. He’s worked for every major television network as a consultant or interviewee, and is in demand as a public speaker, addressing both academic and popular audiences on a broad range of topics, from vampirism in England, to the history of counterculture.

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