The Politics Of Pandaemonium – Jonathan Barry

Head of School and Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Exeter. Jonathan lectures on provincial society and culture in England from 1500 to 1840 and on religious and medical history, including the history of witchcraft with particular emphasis on Bristol and the South West.

Radical history seeks to recover the perspective of the losers in history. Two prominent examples of these in the seventeenth century would be those accused of witchcraft and those executed for rebellion, such as the Monmouth rebels of 1685. What are we to make, then, of the case of the Bovet family of the Somerset/Devon border? They were prominent republicans in the 1640s and 1650s, plotters against the Stuart regime, and active Monmouth rebels, with their two leading members executed at the Bloody Assizes in 1685. Yet they were also active in trials of witches and one of them wrote a demonology, published in 1684. This talk will attempt to show that the Bovet’s demonology, though no doubt reflecting genuine fears, was also a subversive text, extending the family’s anti-royalist campaign, and staking their claim to an important place in local society against the restored establishment.

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