The History of Witchcraft

Witches didn't exist, and yet thousands of people were executed for the crime of witchcraft. Why? The belief in magic and witchcraft has existed in every recorded human culture; this podcast looks at how people explained the inexplicable, turned random acts of nature into conscious acts of mortal or supernatural beings, and how desperate communities took revenge against the suspected perpetrators.

Society & Culture
045 - Wittenberg to Witches
I chat with Wittenberg to Westphalia's Ben Jacobs about witch trials, copyright law, and memes!
34 min
044 - Early Modern English Witchcraft with Prof...
I speak with Darren Oldridge, Professor of Early Modern History at the University of Worcester
37 min
Extra - Sound Education Experience
My account of my time in Boston, at Harvard and BU, for Sound Education
19 min
Bonus - What's it like to make a History Podcas...
I have a chat with Brandon from Dead Ideas about the business of podcasting
41 min
Introducing Pax Britannica
A Podcast History of the British Empire
5 min
043 - Salem, Massachusetts
Why did the colony of Massachusetts explode into a witch panic in 1592?
33 min
042 - Witchcraft in Russia with Prof. Valerie K...
An Interview with Prof. Kivelson of the University of Michigan
47 min
041 - Halloween - From Pagan, to Christian, to ...
Ancient Human Sacrifice | Christian Veneration | Bargain-bin Costumes
46 min
040 - The Pilgrims
The first English colonists make their mark on the New World
26 min
039 - A War of Words
Witchcraft and early Christianity in the Latin West
31 min
038 - The Wroth of Woden
Anglo-Saxon Paganism meets Christianity
33 min
037 - Suffer Not a Witch to Live
Early Christianity in the eastern Roman Empire
25 min
036 - Burn to Ashes
The Downfall and Death of the Witchfinder General
32 min
035 - A Magazine of Scandal
Parliament starts to become concerned over the 'Witchfinder General'
25 min
034 - The Witchfinder General
Old grudges and fears come to the fore in Essex, as word spreads that witch-finders roam
32 min
033 - Satan's Kingdom Divided
The Witchfinder-General is born
35 min
032 - Never a Cross Left
The Witchfinder General, Matthew Hopkins, did not exist in a vacuum.
33 min
031 - It's Treason, then.
We also look at the simmering discontent among elements of the English population to the limited prosecutions of witches, spearheaded by the Stuart court.
29 min
030 - The Lynching of John Lambe
This week, we have a shorter episode while I brush up on my Civil War knowledge. Doctor John Lambe was the personal magician of the Duke of Buckingham, a favourite of James and an ally of Charles. Yet, the reputation of Dr Lambe was so poor that even...
17 min
029 - By the Sword of the Magistrate
In today's episode we see the tide turn on the English witch trials. By the end of his reign, James is unwilling to entertain the more ludicrous accusations and his heir, Charles I, continues this approach. Puritanism, the new bogeyman of the Anglican...
34 min
XXVIII - The Burning of Prospero
At the great Council of Nikaea, an issue that threatened to split an empire apart was finally settled. Yet, when one of the Emperor's own sons rejects the decision, his brother is dispatched at the head of a Legion to bring his errant son to heel and...
33 min
027 - A Wonderful Discovery
Today we look at the political intentions behind the pamphlet, the Wonderful Discovery of Witches in the County of Lancaster, and how it was purposefully written to match the published opinions of James I. We further examine how James began to regret...
30 min
026 - Demon Women and Foul Devices
Was James VI and I truly the witch-hunting, demon-studying zealot that he has traditionally been seen as? Today we take a look at the court of King James, and hear about the trials that dotted his early reign.   This episode primarily makes use...
30 min
025 - Gunpowder, Treason, and Plot
James Stuart begins his reign in England
25 min
024 - Fair is Foul, and Foul is Fair
Shakespeare | Macbeth | Joan of Arc
43 min
023 - Ten Thousand Hells
Drama is perhaps one of the most recognisable products of the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras. This week, we look at two of the more famous plays from this period which use the supernatural in their narratives; Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus,...
23 min
022 - Fairies, Demons, and a Cat called Satan
This week, we hear about the witch beliefs commonly held by your common or garden peasant in Elizabethan and early Stuart England. The priority for your average Joe was the ability of witches to effect the physical world, and how they could help or...
30 min
021 - Gloriana? I Hardly Knew Her!
Elizabeth Tudor | Puritans | Legal Changes
41 min
020 - Witchcraft in Tudor England
Henry VIII | Poisoning | Prophecy
21 min
019 - The Eternal City and the Evil Eye
The Roman Empire | The Evil Eye | Stone Penises
33 min
018 - Halloween - From Pagan, to Christian, to ...
Ancient Human Sacrifice | Christian Veneration | Bargain-bin Costumes
45 min
017 - Poisoners, Soul-Drawers, and Mathematicians
Ancient Greece | Divine Sorcerers | Mathematical Wizards
41 min
016 - The Legacy of the Magi
Ahriman, Zoroastrianism, and the Persian Empires
30 min
015 - The Sorcerers of the Pharaohs
Ancient Babylon, Assyria, and Pharaonic Egypt are the topics of today's episode
24 min
014 - The Scattering of the Knights Templar
England, Portugal, and Cyprus - How did each ruler treat their newly-criminalised Templars?
29 min
013 - The Crushing of the Knights Templar
The Iron King of France set's his sights on the rich and powerful Templar Knights, and nothing will stop him
42 min
012 - The Rise of the Knights Templar
A band of knights conceived to protect pilgrims became a rich and powerful entity in the space of just a few years...
29 min
011 - Mountaintop Madness
The Republic of Geneva, Calvin, and how a witch trial created a country
38 min
010 - The Wisest Fool in Christendom
The last great Scottish trial under the reign of James Stuart
27 min
009 - The Devil's Greatest Enemy
The North Berwick Witch Hunt | The Exile of Earl Bothwell | Newes from Scotland
47 min
008 - The Cradle King
The bloodsoaked early years of James VI's reign
23 min
007 - To Kill a King
James VI of Scotland had one hell of a tough time getting married...
14 min
006 - The Synagogue of Satan
What was the Witches' Sabbat, and why was everyone so obsessed with it? Also, Debunking Dunking!
21 min
005 - "I Have Forgiven the Devil"
The Würzburg witch hunts were the deadliest in all of Germany
23 min
004 - Reigns of Terror
Two of the deadliest witch panics in all of European history were the ones held at Fulda and Bamberg
32 min
003 - Heartland of the Witch Craze
The Holy Roman Empire was a hotbed of witch panics in this period. In this episode we take a look at two very different trials
34 min
002 - A Century of Fire
What caused the deadly witch hunts of the early modern period?
36 min
001 - The Hammer of the Witches
Henricus Institoris does a spot of witch hunting
38 min