The Centre for the History of European Discourses was incorporated in the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities in August 2015.

The information in this website is therefore out of date but retained for archival and staff purposes.


Thursday August 15, 4pm
CCCS Seminar Room,
Level 4, Forgan Smith Building



The ‘Death’ of the Devil in Early Modern Thought


In 1550, it was as impossible not to believe in the Devil as not to believe in God. By the middle of the eighteenth century, intellectual conditions had changed sufficiently for at least some among the ‘literate’ elite, both religious and non-religious, to contemplate the non-existence of the Devil, or at the very least to question whether he any longer had a role in history, or could act in the world.   In this paper, Philip Almond explores the changing intellectual conditions that made possible the death of the Devil. He argues that the demise of demonology is the result not of the overcoming of religion by science, but of the conquest by one form of early modern ‘science’ by another. In so doing, he examines the decline of European demonology both as a result of changing understandings of ‘the natural’ and as the consequence of attacks on the ‘nature’ of spiritual beings. 


  Professor Philip Almond


Philip Almond is Professorial Research Fellow in the History of Religious Thought in the Centre for the History of European Discourses. He specialises in the history of religious thought in England from 1500 to 1800. He is the author of some eleven books. For the past decade he has focused on witchcraft and demonology in early modern England. His most recent books are Demonic Possession and Exorcism in Early Modern England (2004), The Witches of Warboys (2008), England’s First Demonologist: Reginald Scot & ‘The Discoverie of Witchcraft’ (2011) and The Lancashire Witches (2012). His latest book, The Devil: A New Biography,will be published in March 2014.

On this site

Go to top