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Talking with Angels and Demons in Scandinavia 1500-1800 (completed)

The project focuses on how Scandinavian popular culture in the post-Reformation era dealt with angels and demons. A main perspective is how notions of angels and demons express past values, norms and forms of communication. Angels and demons were not distant and exotic, but helped to explain and interpret reality for many people.

Death of Saint Theodora and visions of spiritual trials. Russian hand-made lubok.

About the project

Angels and demons was something that learned theology and philosophy had been concerned about for centuries. In the 1500s, scholarly perceptions of these creatures were considered obvious even among people in general. However, the Lutheran Reformation in Scandinavia questioned some of these notions: Could really the Devil affect human life, and did angelic messages come directly from God? Many people had no doubt about the answer to these questions. They had met with angels who told them that the Day of Judgement was near, that sinners should repent, or that it was the rich who would end up in hell. And some even tried to solve their problems in life by concluding a pact with the Devil himself. These were phenomena that existed throughout Scandinavia, and this project will look at how they were described, interpreted and used through three centuries.


The project will result in a book that

  • Describes how the Scandinavians met and communicated with angels and demons in the period 1500-1800
  • Throws new light on Scandinavian popular religiosity in the period
  • Analyses the expressions of religion in broader cultural contexts
Published May 3, 2010 10:56 AM - Last modified May 7, 2014 9:50 AM


Arne Bugge Amundsen
+47-22857629, +47-92244774