Early Europeans believed in spirits with the ability to morph into different forms. Theatrical magic is used to recreate medieval times when fallen angels were a real fear.
Possession Process (02:31)
Medieval people believed demons could enter the body as a vapor. Historians use an actress to explain how this was thought to happen through food.
Demon Possession (02:40)
An actress recreates symptoms recorded from contemporary events. Mental and physical illnesses like epilepsy were most likely responsible.
Truth Behind Exorcism (06:05)
Possessed people were known as demoniacs. In 1585, fifteen year old Sarah Williams was thought to be possessed. Protestants and Catholics were at war in defense of their respective faiths.
Some medieval people actively looked for demons in order to harness their power. Textbooks contained detailed instructions for magic.
Dark Magic Spell (03:37)
The most famous prosecution for necromancy was of Eleanor Duchess of Gloucester in 1441. She was imprisoned for life. Priests performed ceremonies to summon demons.
Fairies were once terrifying creatures. Fake photos taken in 1917 became a media sensation.
Origin of Fairy Beliefs (02:36)
In ancient times, nymphs were thought to be human sized. This idea came from Romans. This changed during Victorian times. Theatrical special effects evoke medieval feelings.
Medieval feared their children being abducted by fairies. Women performed protective ceremonies to prevent this. Physical or mental abnormalities created suspicion.
Changeling Tests (04:45)
In medieval times, parents of an abnormal child could conduct tests to determine whether their child had been abducted and replaced. Many babies were burned to death.
Bridget Cleary (03:40)
In 1895, a woman was killed by her husband because he believed her to be a fairy changeling.
Bridget Cleary's Death (04:26)
Cleary's husband fed her a potion after she fell ill. A fire test showed she was not a changeling. Her husband killed her when she refused to eat.
Modern Views of Fantasy Creatures (01:25)
Attitudes about the spirit world have changed over the last 200 years. Evil demons and fairies are no longer thought to roam the earth tormenting humans.
On the Next Episode... (00:23)
Watch a preview of the upcoming episode of "Gods and Monsters" about magic medicine.
Credits: Demons and Spirits: Tony Robinson's Gods and Monsters (00:42)
Credits: Demons and Spirits: Tony Robinson's Gods and Monsters
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