Research Stream


Charlotte Rose Millar (2016)
The University of Queensland

Charles Zika
The University of Melbourne


The Devil is in the Pamphlets: Witchcraft and Emotion in Seventeenth-Century England

This project argues that English witchcraft was frequently imagined to be a diabolical crime and that witches' relationships with the Devil were defined by strong emotions such as anger, fear, malice, a desire for revenge, hatred, lust and love.

The Devil is in the Pamphlets: Witchcraft and Emotion in Seventeenth-Century England

The links between English witchcraft and the Devil have not been the subject of sustained historical analysis. This project represents the only study that systematically analyses the content of seventeenth-century English witchcraft pamphlets. It explores all forty-eight of these sources and suggests that English witchcraft was widely conceived of as an inherently diabolical crime. The project focuses on the emotional interactions between witches and devils and a witch’s supposed motivations for succumbing to Satan. It has two objectives: to suggest that the content of English witchcraft pamphlets challenges our understanding of English witchcraft as a purely malefic and non-diabolical crime, and to highlight how witchcraft narratives emphasised emotions as the driving force behind witchcraft acts and accusations. At its core, this project is about relationships between witches and devils.



Witchcraft, the Devil and Emotions in Early Modern England, Routledge, forthcoming 2017. ISBN: 978-1-4724-8549-6

Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles and Book Chapters

'Rebecca West’s Demonic Marriage: Exploring Emotions, Ritual and Women’s Agency in Seventeenth-Century England', Women’s History (formerly Women’s History Magazine), Spring 2016.

'Familiar Spirits' in Emotions in Early Modern Europe: An Introduction, ed. Susan Broomhall. In press with Routledge, expected publication date 2016.

'Over-Familiar Spirits: Seventeenth Century English Witches and Their Devils'.  In Unbridled Passions: Emotions in the History of Witchcraft, ed. Laura Kounine and Michael Ostling. In press with the Palgrave Series for Studies in the History of Emotions, expected publication date 2016.

“Sleeping with Devils: the Sexual Witch in Seventeenth-Century England” in Supernatural and Secular Power in Early Modern England, eds. Victoria Bladen and Marcus Harmes ('Forthcoming in 2015').  From the Ashgate reviewer: “It is something of a commonplace in witchcraft studies (although currently in the process of revision) that English demonology compared to Continental demonology was much less focused on the issue of sex with the Devil. With its thorough going analysis of 17th century witchcraft pamphlets, this essay establishes that English period in this century was highly sexualised. This essay should become a definitive piece on this issue. Ranking: Outstanding”

“The Witchcraft Confederacy” in A World Enchanted: Magic and the Margins, eds. Michael Pickering and Julie Davies, (Parkville: Melbourne Historical Journal Collective, 2014).

“Witchcraft and Deviant Sexuality: A Case Study of Dr Lambe” in The British World: Religion, Memory, Society, Culture, eds. Marcus Harmes, Lindsay Henderson, Barbara Harmes and Amy Antonio, (Toowoomba: University of Southern Queensland, 2012): 51-62.

The Witch’s Familiar in Sixteenth-Century England,” Melbourne Historical Journal 38 (2010): 119-136. This article was awarded the Don Yoder Prize for Religious Folklife by the American Folklore Society. It was also awarded the University of Melbourne History Fellows Prize.

Review Articles

Review: Willumsen, Liv Helene, Witches of the North: Scotland and Finland (Brill, 2013). Women’s History Review 23, 5 (2014).

Review: Stoyle, Mark, The Black Legend of Prince Rupert’s Dog: Witchcraft and Propaganda During the English Civil War, (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2011). Magic, Ritual and Witchcraft, 8.2 (2013).

Review: Holmberg, Eva Johanna, Jews in the Early Modern English Imagination: A Scattered Nation (Transculturalisms, 1400–1700), (Farnham, Ashgate, 2012), Parergon 29, 2 (2012).

Review: Broomhall, Susan and Jacqueline Van Gent, eds, Governing Masculinities in the Early Modern Period: Regulating Selves and Others (Women and Gender in the Early Modern World), Farnham, Ashgate, 2011, Parergon 29, 2 (2012)

Review: Phil Withington, The Vernacular Origins of some Powerful Ideas, (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2010), Parergon 28, 2 (2011)

Selected Papers

2014. "The Vengeance of Witches: Diabolical Justice in Early Modern England" at the Reading Early Modern Studies Conference at the University of Reading.

2014. "Witchcraft, the Devil and Popular Print in Seventeenth-Century England" as a guest speaker to the Sydney Medieval and Renaissance Group Seminar Series.

2014. "Rebecca West's Demonic Marriage: Exploring Emotions, Ritual and Power in Seventeenth-Century England" at Emotions, Ritual and Power, The University of Adelaide.

2013. "Sources of Fear and Objects of Disgust: Witches as Co-Conspirators in Early English Pamphlets" at the Sixteenth Century Society Conference, San Juan, Puerto Rico.

2013. "The Emotional Imperatives Behind the Witch's Pact", at the XI Gustav Vasa Seminar on Witchcraft, Magic and Popular Belief, The University of Jyvaskyla.

2013. "The Devil¹s Victims: Emotionally Vulnerable Witches in Seventeenth-Century England" at Sourcing Emotions in the Medieval and Early Modern World, The University of Western Australia.

2013. "Sleeping with Devils: The Sexual Witch in Seventeenth-Century England", at the 9th Biennial International Australian and New Zealand Association for Medieval and Early Modern Studies Conference at Monash University, Melbourne.

2012. "Popular Print and Public Perception in Early Modern England: Representing the Witches' Sabbath," at the Reading Early Modern Studies Conference at the University of Reading.

2012. ³ŒThe Ringleader of Witches¹: Dr. Lambe and Diabolical English Witchcraft² at Capturing Witches: Histories, Stories, Images. 400 Years after the Lancashire Witches at the University of Lancaster.

2012. "The Emotional Dynamics of Witches and their Devils", at the Biannual Meeting of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions, Adelaide.

2012. "Witchcraft, the Devil and Deviant Sexuality: A Case Study of Dr. Lambe" at The British World: Religion, Memory, Culture and Society at the University of Southern Queensland.

2012. "Witches and their Devils" as a to guest speaker the History Fellows Group, University of Melbourne.

2011. "The Witch¹s Familiar in Sixteenth-Century England" at the 8th Biennial International Australian and New Zealand Association for Medieval and Early Modern Studies Conference at the University of Otago, New Zealand.

2011. "Catholic, Protestant or Puritan? Witchcraft, Possession and Religious Confusion in Sixteenth-Century England," at Intellectual Conceptions of the Occult and the Decline of Magic: A Masterclass with Prof. Michael Hunter, The University of Melbourne.

2010. "Witchcraft, Catholicism and the Devil in Early Modern England," at the Early Modern Circle Seminar Series, The University of Melbourne.

Image: ‘The Wonderful discoverie of the Witchcrafts of Margaret and Phillip Flower.’ 1619. © The British Library Board, C.27.b.35