Publication day is finally here for my book Magic in Merlin’s Realm: A History of Occult Politics in Britain, which is a complete history of the entanglement of politics and magic in Britain’s history. The book has been a long time in the making; I wrote a first draft as long ago as 2017, a project arising from my earlier book Magic as a Political Crime in Medieval and Early Modern England.
The new book is, I hope, a major contribution to British political history, because its aim is to transform our perception of the importance of belief in magic to politics. In much the same way as we now accept that religious belief played a major role in political decision-making in the past, so Magic in Merlin’s Realm argues that political decision-making in the Middle Ages and beyond cannot be truly understood without reference to people’s belief in occult forces.
As Dr Frank Klaassen has observed, ‘the evidence presented by [Francis Young] unequivocally demonstrates that politics in pre-modern Britain cannot be fully understood without some attention to the notion and practice of magic and the occult sciences in general such as alchemy and astrology. The author has also brought together a tremendous amount of scholarship in this volume which is commendable in its own right