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Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies

Victoria University in the University of Toronto

The Devil in Society in Premodern Europe

568 pp / 2012 / Softcover / ISBN 978-0-7727-2124-2 / $49.95 (Price includes domestic and international shipping and applicable taxes) 568 pp / 2012 / Softcover / ISBN 978-0-7727-2124-2 / $49.95 (Price includes applicable taxes)

Edited by Richard Raiswell with Peter Dendle

To watch a short video in which co-editor Richard Raiswell discusses the genesis and major themes of The Devil in Society in Premodern Europe, please click here.

While theologians from Augustine and Gregory to Aquinas, Luther, and De Lancre struggled to determine the nature of the devil and the extent of his powers, the men and women of premodern Europe felt – and saw – the presence of the devil all around them. Theirs were societies and cultures in which the devil and his assorted crew of minions were ascribed real potency in the natural world. Treating the devil not as a reified theological entity but as a dynamic concept that was made and remade over the centuries according to cultural priorities and the exigencies of circumstance, the articles in this collection probe how the devil and demonism operated as explanatory categories that helped create and rationalise experience, thereby shaping the way people lived their lives and understood their place and role in the world.


“[E]xcellent contributions that combine fascinating case-studies with intelligent, productive thinking[….]”
— Stuart Clark, Renaissance and Reformation/Renaissance et Reformé 36/1 (2013), p. 190.


  • Richard Raiswell, “Introduction”

Part One: The Devil’s Identity

  • Audrey Meaney, “The Devil Can Seriously Damage your Health: Reflections on Anglo-Saxon Demonology”
  • Martin Chase, “Leviathan and the miðgarðsormr in Old Norse Christian Texts: An Attempt to Diabolize the World Serpent?”
  • David Ross Winter, “Preaching the Demonic Family in the West Country: An Account of the Devil and His Mother in an Early Thirteenth-Century Example Book from Llanthony Secunda Priory”

Part Two: Recognising the Devil

  • Andreea Marculescu, “Playing with Witches: Theology, History, and Performance in Jean Michel’s Mystère de la Passion
  • Gary K. Waite, “Demonizing Rhetoric, Reformation Heretics and the Witch Sabbaths: Anabaptists and Witches in Elite Discourse”
  • Jolanta N. Komornicka, “The Devil on Trial: The Changing Role of the Devil in the Trial by Ordeal”
  • Erika Gasser, “Samuel Harsnett, John Darrell, and the Use of Gender as an English Possession Propaganda Strategy”
  • Kirsten C. Uszkalo, “Embodied Spiritualities, Salacious Biographies, and the Hog-Faced Prophetical Witch”

Part Three: Physical and Cultural Spaces of the Demonic

  • Suzanne Scanlan, “The Devil in the Refectory: Bodies Imagined and the Oblates of Tor de’ Specchi in Quattrocento Rome”
  • Michael A. Ryan, “Nicolau Eymerich and Discerning the End of Days”
  • Pierre Kapitaniak, “The Devil Turned Go-Between: False Conjurations on the Jacobean Stage”
  • Richard Kieckhefer, “The Necromancer as Mountebank: Comic Elements in a Late Medieval Tragedy”
  • Peter A. Morton, “Lutheran Naturalism, Popular Magic, and the Devil”

Part Four: Control, Restraining and Adjuration

  • Sophie Lunn-Rockliffe, “Visualizing the Demonic: The Gadarene Exorcism in Early Christian Art and Literature”
  • Maria Tausiet, “The Rule of Satan as Seen by a Soldier: Prophecy and Millenarianism in the Spanish Golden Age”
  • Nadine Metzger, “Incubus as an Illness: Taming the Demonic by Medical Means in Late Antiquity and Beyond”
  • Guido Dall’Olio, “The Devil of Inquisitors, Demoniacs and Exorcists in Counter-Reformation Italy”
  • Richard Raiswell and Peter Dendle, “Epilogue: Inscribing the Devil in Cultural Contexts”


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568 pp / 2012 / Softcover / ISBN 978-0-7727-2124-2 / $49.95 (Price includes applicable taxes)

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