Historical Novel Society: Oxford 2016 Part Deux
The first workshop I attended was Beyond the Temporal, about the influences of the spirit world throughout history presented by Karen Maitland, Essie Fox, Antoinette May and Mary Sharratt.
The history of humankind has gone hand in hand with many beliefs in the supernatural and this has been reflected in much of the fiction that has been written over the years.
The supernatural was a big part of life in Medieval Times. All around there is evidence of this from carvings, drawings and writings of Jesus, the Saints and various angels, demons and mythical creatures. Even declaring a disbelief in werewolves and vampires was considered heretical (as the Church couldn’t make money out of you to get rid of them). Despite the massive influence the Church had in people’s lives folklore was still used by people to rid themselves of bad luck that brought disasters like plague and famine.
In Ancient Rome much religion and superstition came from Greece. There was a god, goddess or deity for pretty much everything and offerings were left in the hope fortunes would increase.
The Early Modern period from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment saw an explosion in witch hunts and hysteria across Europe, arriving in England in 1603 with the ascension of James VI of Scotland to the English throne. This was bad news for wise women who used many charms and potions to assist with various ailments and the power of curses was something to be feared.
The Victorian Age saw a Cult of Death and interest in the afterlife in what was a time of great change and advancement. Part of this came from the high mortality rate in the cities and the death of Prince Albert that sent Queen Victoria into mourning for forty years. There was the rise of Spiritualism and the hope that it would be possible to communicate with the dead.