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The Decline of Magic – Britain in the Enlightenment - Yale Scholarship Online
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The Decline of Magic: Britain in the Enlightenment

Michael Hunter


In early modern Britain, belief in prophecies, omens, ghosts, apparitions and fairies was commonplace. Among both educated and ordinary people the absolute existence of a spiritual world was taken for granted. Yet in the eighteenth century such certainties were swept away. Credit for this great change is usually given to science — and in particular to the scientists of the Royal Society. But is this justified? This book argues that those pioneering the change in attitude were not scientists but freethinkers. While some scientists defended the reality of supernatural phenomena, these sceptical ... More

Keywords: early modern Britain, prophecies, omens, ghosts, apparitions, fairies, spiritual world, freethinkers, supernatural phenomena, magic

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2020 Print ISBN-13: 9780300243581
Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2020 DOI:10.12987/yale/9780300243581.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Michael Hunter, author
University of London