United Kingdom, Leeds

Heretics, Witches and Conspirators: A History of Fear, 1500-1750

when 22 July 2019 - 2 August 2019
language English
duration 2 weeks
credits 5 EC
fee GBP 1770

Who or what did the British really fear in the Early Modern period? Most students will be familiar the notorious witch-hunts that spread across Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, but few will have fully grasped the beliefs, perceptions and anxieties that led neighbours to persecute each other, children to accuse parents, or the ways in which other identities – Catholics, Jews, Vagrants, even ‘Actors’ and ‘Egyptians’ – were perceived to threaten or undermine the order of society. This course will allow you to diagnose the causes for cultures of suspicion and persecution, and open a route to understanding the logic behind it. We will look at the details of the alleged magic, heresy, cursing and plotting that these ‘criminals’ were accused of, as well as analyse the cases where voices of toleration were heard.

The course will allow students to get to grips with the actual writings circulating about these groups at the time across Britain and Europe, with particular attention to trials of ‘witches’ and ‘heretics’ within Yorkshire and Lancashire, including a visit to Pendle Hill and the surrounding area where Pendle witches lived.

Please note, the Leeds International Summer School runs for four weeks (30 June - 29 July 2018) and comprises two modules, each lasting two weeks. As well as this module you must take another module in order to attend LISS for the full four weeks.

Course leader

Hannah Coates

Target group

Undergraduate/Bachelor students

Course aim

At the end of this module students will have gained:

- an understanding of Early Modern Elite writing;
- heresy, witchcraft and social transgression;
- familiarity with the rhetoric and concerns of Early Modern sermons, theological treatises, political writings and legislation;
- insight into the popular cultures of toleration and persecution on local, regional and national contexts;
- an introduction to the historiography of concepts such as tolerance, persecution, charity, neighbourliness and conversion;Survey and critique of the historiography of early modern culture and religion.

Credits info

5 EC
The module is worth 10 Leeds credits = 5 ECTS. You can transfer the credits earned back to your home degree subject to approval.

Fee info

GBP 1770: Includes tuition, accommodation, breakfast and lunch, Monday - Friday, academic field trip, weekend cultural excursions, social programme and premium gym membership.


Santander scholarships worth £500 are available for students with good academic standing to help pay your fees. You can apply as part of your application to LISS.