Lecture on ‘Magic in English Political History’ at Birkbeck

Yesterday evening I delivered a lecture entitled ‘Magic in English Political History’ at Birkbeck, University of London, as part of the series Renaissance: Concepts and Issues, at the kind invitation of Dr Stephen Clucas. The lecture focussed on the intersection between political history and occult traditions in medieval England, examining both the positive and negative portrayal of occult traditions in politics. I have previously written on the role of magic as a political accusation in England, but in this talk I went beyond that narrow focus to look at the origins of the politicisation of magic in the twelfth century through the figure of Merlin, and the succession of real individuals who assumed (or were perceived to assume) the mantle of Merlin as magical royal advisers throughout history. I also drew links between the medieval and early modern evidence and the contemporary phenomenon of magical acts performed against President Trump in the USA.

I am grateful to Stephen Clucas for inviting me to deliver the lecture and to the students for the stimulating discussion afterwards.

One reply on “Lecture on ‘Magic in English Political History’ at Birkbeck”

It sounds very interesting Dr Young, and I would have liked to have attended the lecture. Will there be any more masses at Oxborough Hall or AGM’s– now that you are no longer secretary, as it was so beautiful to be there in that Holy place so full of the History of our wonderful Catholic Faith.
Recusancy is fascinating and reveals the tenacity and determination of those who could not give up this Faith under Christ Himself who was Leader of us all.
I do hope you are well and your family, and thank you for writing to me and others !
Jo Sparkes

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