WE were delighted to welcome Dr Francis Young back to King’s to host our Round Table Lecture Society talk on November 16th.
Dr Young, who was our Head of Sixth Form for several years, spoke to students and staff about his latest book project, ‘Merlin’s Realm’, which explores examples of magic in British Politics and History.
Dr Young specialises in the history of religion and belief. He is the author, editor or co-author of 18 books! Dr Young is interested in how history illuminates the nature of belief and in the intersections between religion, folklore, magic and other forms of supernatural belief.
Colin Currie, Head of History at King’s Ely Senior, said: “Dr Young took us on an erudite and captivating tour of British History from the early Middle Ages to the Second World War, highlighting examples of belief in magic and the supernatural at the heart of British Politics. From William the Conqueror’s attempt to use the powers of a local witch to take Ely from Hereward the Wake in 1071, to Helen Duncan, the last British person to be arrested under the 1735 Witchcraft Act, we heard a number of fascinating stories.
“It was also particularly interesting to hear how belief in magic has often become more pronounced when the socio-political order has frayed or broken down, such as during the Civil War. Indeed, Dr Young made the interesting observation that the desire to find explanations for current issues and phenomena outside of the realms of mainstream science and discourse has something of the belief in magic to it – giving the destruction of 5G masts as potential spreaders of COVID-19 as an example.
“We would like to thank Dr Young for his time and we look forward to welcoming him back to King’s again soon to speak to us about one of his next projects…”