The fiend in the fog : a history of Satan in early modern Scotland
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This dissertation, the first comprehensive study of Satan in early modern Scotland, attempts to recreate the role of the devil in the mental worlds of Scots from the beginning of the Scottish Reformation in 1560 through the early eighteenth century. In doing so, I address three interrelated questions. First, what did Scottish men and women believe about the devil? Second, how did their demonic beliefs inform culture, individual and communal identities, and lived experience in Scotland? Last, how did Scottish demonic belief compare and relate to British, Atlantic, and European demonologies? This dissertation demonstrates that Scots of all sorts were involved in the creation of a varied but shared spectrum of demonic belief that was profoundly and consistently influenced by the theology and practice of Reformed Protestantism. Ultimately, belief in the devil produced a dynamic cultural dialogue about good, evil, and the self through which these Scots constructed individual and communal identities. Throughout the early modern period, Scottish religious, social, and political turmoil combined with the introduction of Reformed Protestant theology and an increased concern for the Apocalypse to provoke a re-evaluation of demonology. Historians have often assumed that ordinary people were uninterested in or unaware of these evolving ideas about Satan, due to both their illiteracy and their focus on the basic struggle to make ends meet. By investigating a wide array of sources, such as court records, diaries, and sermons, my dissertation unearths the demonological ideas not just of elites, but also of ordinary men and women whose beliefs about Satan have long been presumed unrecoverable. This dissertation thus demonstrates that elite and uneducated Scots alike engaged in a complex exchange of beliefs about the devil that reshaped Scottish demonology and engendered new ways of believing and behaving for Scots of all sorts.