Tudor History: Witchcraft and the Supernatural with Dr. Elizabeth Norton

Tudor History: Witchcraft and the Supernatural with Dr. Elizabeth Norton


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The Tudor Dynasty captures the imagination like no other period in English history. This series of talks led by British historian Dr. Elizabeth Norton will examine the world of the Tudors – and the many wives of the notorious King Henry VIII – with each week’s standalone lecture looking at a particular topic or theme.

On August 22, 1485, an obscure Welsh nobleman named Henry Tudor surprised everyone by winning the throne of England on the battlefield at Bosworth Field. Taking the throne as Henry VII, he would be the first of five Tudor monarchs, who would rule England for 118 years. Following him was his son, the infamous Henry VIII with his six long-suffering wives, as well as his three grandchildren, Edward VI, ‘Bloody’ Mary Tudor, and Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen.

This series of lectures will look at the lives of these key family members and their prodigy, and contextualize their stories' impact on the modern monarchy.

The Tudors lived in an age where scientific knowledge was rudimentary, with the supernatural viewed as a part of daily life. Using specific examples, we will look at cases of prophetesses and holy women, as well as the connection between belief in ghosts and Purgatory. On the other end of the spectrum, belief in witchcraft and demonic possession was increasingly rife in Tudor England, with Henry VIII making witchcraft a felony for the first time.

Led by Dr. Elizabeth Norton, a Britain historian and expert on the Tudor dynasty, this conversation will explore the impact of the supernatural on society in England and Scotland and consider what this says about the way in which individuals perceived the world. Using specific examples will consider who was likely to be accused of supernatural agency and whether this was always a negative for individuals. At the same time, we will also consider changing belief in the supernatural in the context of the Protestant Reformation. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of the ways in which the supernatural was understood and used in the Tudor period.

Dr. Elizabeth Norton is a British historian, specializing in the Tudor period. She has degrees from both Oxford and Cambridge universities and King's College London. She is the author of twelve books, including 'The Hidden Lives of Tudor Women', 'The Temptation of Elizabeth Tudor' and biographies of four of Henry VIII's wives. 

This conversation is suitable for all ages.

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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