Religion, witchraft and heresy in Early Modern England
Time: 10:15 - 12:15
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
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What is the course about?
With reference to key events including the Reformation and the Civil Wars, we will examine how concepts of heresy and religious belief changed in the Early Modern Period. The first three sessions of this course will focus on shifting forms of orthodox religious belief, heresy and on the rise of religious dissenters such as the Anabaptists, the Quakers and itinerant preachers known as the Ranters. Although witch-hunting and witch trials were never as prevalent in England as in some other European countries, including neighbouring Scotland, belief in witches and witchcraft persisted, and in the second three sessions of the course we will consider Tudor legislation on witchcraft, the impact of James I, and superstition and witch-hunting during the Civil Wars.
This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.
What will we cover?
• The Reformation and changing concepts of heresy
• Orthodox religion, heresy & treason
• The Rise of the Puritans
• Anabaptists, Quakers, Ranters and Fifth Monarchy Men: the rise of religious dissent
• Freedom of conscience during the Protectorate & late Stuart eras
• Witchcraft in England, Scotland & wider Europe
• James VI & I, witchcraft & Daemonologie
• The case of the Pendle Witches
• Superstition, witchcraft & the Civil Wars
• The later Stuart era & the decline of witch-hunting.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
• Assess the impact of the Reformation on concepts of heresy and witchcraft
• Explain how heresy could be equated with treason
• Evaluate the reasons for the growth of Puritanism in England
• Assess the impact of religious dissenters on English religious life
• Define the concept of witchcraft in the Early Modern Period
• Explain the impact of James VI and I on witch-hunting in England
• Evaluate the ways in which people used religion, superstition and witch hunting during the Civil Wars
• Assess the reasons for the decline of witch-hunting in England and Wales.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
To have a very basic general knowledge of the Early Modern period is not mandatory but would be helpful as the topic is quite specialist, but this is an introductory course and no prior knowledge of the subject itself is required. Please note that the focus is on the social and political history of the topic, rather than on its cultural aspects.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
You will be taught online and class debates and discussions will be encouraged. Google Classroom will be available with optional reading to enhance your knowledge.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
No other costs. Please bring a pen and paper if you wish to take notes.