Strange Histories is an exploration of some of the most extraordinary beliefs that existed in the late Middle Ages through to the end of the seventeenth century. Presenting serious accounts of the appearance of angels and demons, sea monsters and dragons within European and North American history, this book moves away from "present-centred thinking" and instead places such events firmly within their social and cultural context. By doing so, it offers a new way of understanding the world in which dragons and witches were fact rather than fiction, and presents these riveting phenomena as part of an entirely rational thought process for the time in which they existed.

This new edition has been fully updated in light of recent research. It contains a new guide to further reading as well as a selection of pictures that bring its themes to life. From ghosts to witches, to pigs on trial for murder, the book uses a range of different case studies to provide fascinating insights into the world-view of a vanished age. It is essential reading for all students of early modern history.


chapter 1|22 pages


Strange worlds

chapter 2|22 pages

Angels on a pinhead

chapter 3|16 pages

They hang horses, don’t they?

chapter 4|21 pages

The roaming dead

chapter 5|22 pages

“A shipwreck of souls”

Understanding witchcraft

chapter 6|15 pages

Werewolves and flying witches

chapter 7|21 pages

Raptures and forbidden words

chapter 8|19 pages

Suffering saints

chapter 9|16 pages

The case for killing heretics

chapter 10|11 pages


The edge of wonder