Policing a World of Wonder: The Roman Inquisition and Learned Magic


Friday 7 June 2019, 6.30PM

Speaker(s): Dr Neil Tarrant (CREMS Research Associate)

CREMS Festival of Ideas Lecture

This talk will describe how early modern Catholics understood the world around them. It will explain that there was a far richer explanatory repertoire for observed events and effects. They were seeking to comprehend a world that obeyed regular natural laws, but in which it was also essential to accept the active intervention of God, but also angels and demons. Contemporaries were seeking to determine which wonders occurred naturally, which could be produced by man through skilled application of his/her knowledge of the laws of nature, which were produced by angels and demons and which by God alone. These discussions were played out in the tribunals of the Inquisition when questions were raised about the work of natural magicians. These discussions sought to determine the boundaries between heretical witchcraft and legitimate scientific and technological ideas and practice. Not only reputations but lives depended on their outcome.

Image: Galilei before the inquisition. Painting by Joseph-Nicolas Robert-Fleury | Photo: Wikimedia Commons


Location: Bowland Auditorium, Berrick Saul Building

Admission: Ticketed. Information to follow.

Email: crems-enquiries@york.ac.uk