Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Beliefs and the Dead in Reformation England$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Peter Marshall

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780198207733

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198207733.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use (for details see www.oxfordscholarship.com/page/privacy-policy).date: 12 December 2018

The Disorderly Dead: Ghosts and their Meanings in Reformation England

The Disorderly Dead: Ghosts and their Meanings in Reformation England

(p.232) 6 The Disorderly Dead: Ghosts and their Meanings in Reformation England
Beliefs and the Dead in Reformation England


Oxford University Press

This chapter sifts a mass of scattered evidence to elucidate official and popular belief about ghosts. Protestant authorities denounced belief in ghosts as a superstitious by-product of belief in purgatory, but had to account for the continuing propensity of people to see them after the Catholic teaching had been suppressed. They concluded that such apparitions were either frauds or delusions of the devil, though they might, just occasionally, be angels — a dilemma played out in Hamlet. At the level of popular belief, ghost stories evolved to take on aspects of the Protestant critique, but remained vibrantly traditional in other ways. The chapter demonstrates that even in condemning ghosts, educated writers were much influenced by popular assumptions, and that neither Catholic nor Protestant elites could resist deploying ghost stories for providential purposes.

Keywords:   ghosts, purgatory, devil, angels, Hamlet, popular belief, providence

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .