My review of The Cambridge History of Magic and Witchcraft in the West, edited by David J. Collins SJ, has just been published in vol. 3 issue 2 of The Journal of Jesuit Studies. This huge collection, which runs to 728 pages, is likely to become an authoritative text in the field and covers the entire chronological range of what could be considered ‘magic’ and ‘witchcraft’, from the ancient Near East to magic in contemporary paganism. The book features an impressive line-up of scholars, but its most important feature and what sets it apart from other texts in the field is the comprehensiveness of its chronological span – there are no gaps here, and the Enlightenment and the nineteenth century are treated alongside more well-studied periods such as antiquity, the Middle Ages and the Reformation era. This is a book that should be on the shelf of every historian of religion (if they can afford it…).
This morning I delivered a talk to the Ely and District branch of the University of the Third Age (U3A) on the Catholic prisoners in the Bishop’s Palace at Ely. This followed on from a previous U3A talk on the history of the Bishop’s Palace, in which I noted that a separate talk would be required to explain the story of the Catholic prisoners. Since then my article on the subject has appeared in Recusant History/British Catholic History, so I was able to give a great deal more detail on the most famous of the prisoners: Sir Thomas Tresham, Edward Throckmorton, George Cotton and William Catesby.
The full text of my talk is available to read here.