Satan and the Scots: The Devil in Post-Reformation Scotland, c.1560-1700 (Hardback) book cover

Satan and the Scots

The Devil in Post-Reformation Scotland, c.1560-1700

By Michelle D. Brock

© 2016 – Routledge

248 pages

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About the Book

Frequent discussions of Satan from the pulpit, in the courtroom, in print, in self-writings, and on the streets rendered the Devil an immediate and assumed presence in early modern Scotland. For some, especially those engaged in political struggle, this produced a unifying effect by providing a proximate enemy for communities to rally around. For others, the Reformed Protestant emphasis on the relationship between sin and Satan caused them to suspect, much to their horror, that their own depraved hearts placed them in league with the Devil. Exploring what it meant to live in a world in which Satan’s presence was believed to be, and indeed, perceived to be, ubiquitous, this book recreates the role of the Devil in the mental worlds of the Scottish people from the Reformation through the early eighteenth century. In so doing it is both the first history of the Devil in Scotland and a case study of the profound ways that beliefs about evil can change lives and shape whole societies. Building upon recent scholarship on demonology and witchcraft, this study contributes to and advances this body of literature in three important ways. First, it moves beyond establishing what people believed about the Devil to explore what these beliefs actually did- how they shaped the piety, politics, lived experiences, and identities of Scots from across the social spectrum. Second, while many previous studies of the Devil remain confined to national borders, this project situates Scottish demonic belief within the confluence of British, Atlantic, and European religious thought. Third, this book engages with long-running debates about Protestantism and the ’disenchantment of the world’, suggesting that Reformed theology, through its dogged emphasis on human depravity, eroded any rigid divide between the supernatural evil of Satan and the natural wickedness of men and women. This erosion was borne out not only in pages of treatises and sermons, but in the lives of Scots of all sorts. Ultimately, this study suggests that post-Reformation beliefs about the Devil profoundly influenced the experiences and identities of the Scottish people through the creation of a shared cultural conversation about evil and human nature.

Table of Contents

Introduction; Reforming the devil; From the pulpit; A constant adversary; Internalizing the demonic; Wicked words and demonic belief; The devil as master; Satan on the streets; Conclusion: of monsters and men; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author

Michelle D. Brock is an Assistant Professor of History at Washington and Lee University, where she teaches courses on British and early modern European history. She received her Ph.D from the University of Texas at Austin.

About the Series

St Andrews Studies in Reformation History

With the publication of its 100th book in 2012, the St Andrews Studies in Reformation Studies series celebrated an impressive publishing achievement. Since its establishment in 1995 the series has consistently offered high-quality, innovative and thought-provoking research in the field of early modern religious history. By encouraging authors to adopt a broad and inclusive interpretation of ’Reformation’, the resultant publications have done much to help shape current interdisciplinary interpretations of early-modern religion, expanding attention far beyond narrow theological concerns. Each title within the series has added to a body of international research showing how the ripples of the Reformation spread to virtually every corner of European society, both Protestant and Catholic, and often beyond. From family life, education, literature, music, art and philosophy, to political theory, international relations, economics, colonial ventures, science and military matters, there were few aspects of life that remained untouched in some way by the spirit of religious reform. As well as widening conceptions of the Reformation, the series has for the last fifteen years provided a publishing outlet for work, much of it by new and up-and-coming scholars who might otherwise have struggled to find an international platform for their work. Alongside these monographs, a complementary selection of edited volumes, critical editions of important primary sources, bibliographical studies and new translations of influential Reformation works previously unavailable to English speaking scholars, adds further depth to the topic. By offering this rich mix of approaches and topics, the St Andrews series continues to offer scholars an unparalleled platform for the publication of international scholarship in a dynamic and often controversial area of historical study.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HIS037040
HISTORY / Modern / 17th Century
REL070000
RELIGION / Christianity / General