SPIRITED THINKING SINCE 1888
Dominic Selwood

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October 04, 2018
In 1612, a judge condemned 10 people to death for witchcraft. Was one of them a recusant Catholic?
October 04, 2018
Witchcraft and magic have a strong hold over our collective imagination. These days, our interest is largely for entertainment, but four centuries ago things were very different. When Shakespeare conjured up the three witches in Macbeth (c 1606-7), his audience believed that the Devil’s votaries prowled the land. King James I (1603–25) even wrote a
October 04, 2018
Matthew Hopkins Hopkins became notorious in the 17th century as England’s most prolific witch-hunter. He grew up in Suffolk, where his father was a vicar, but by his mid-20s he had settled in Manningtree, Essex. He came to public attention there in 1645 when he gave evidence against a group of women he claimed had
August 30, 2018
Royal Books and Holy Bones by Eamon Duffy, Bloomsbury, £25 There are historians – and then there is Eamon Duffy. This book resoundingly demonstrates, yet again, why the veteran Cambridge professor is quite unlike the rest. From 1992’s The Stripping of the Altars to 2001’s The Voices of Morebath, Duffy has revelled in punching irreparable
December 14, 2017
The House of Tudor began its reign with a supreme act of violence: hacking King Richard III of England to death at Bosworth Field. Once on the throne, its members continued in the same vein, soaking the country in blood: unleashing 50 years of religious persecution that rumbled on long after their demise, fuelling a
October 26, 2017
Martin Luther was a theologian. If you read the Ninety-Five Theses he reputedly tacked up on the door of Wittenberg’s Schlosskirche in October 1517, it is clear his interest lay in the nature of sin, repentance, absolution, penance and salvation. Whatever else his wider agenda was – or became – his initial arguments were presented
October 26, 2017
Amid celebrations of the Reformation's 500th anniversary, we should remember the mass persecutions of 16thC England
October 27, 2016
To this day many believe that the Catholic Church refused to give people the Bible and religious instruction in English
October 27, 2016
When it comes to state violence, official justifications have always been paramount. Throughout history, savvy administrations have paid close attention to their messaging around the use of force and how it is perceived. This is not a modern phenomenon. William the Conqueror went to great lengths to dress up his invasion of Britain as a