The following review was published in Seventeenth-Century News ,  Vol.70, Nos. 1&2, pp. 33.37.
Mark Knights. The Devil in Disguise. Deception, Delusion, and Fanaticism in the Early English Enlightenment. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. xxi + 279 pp. $55.00. Review by KARIN SUSAN FESTER, UNIVERSITY OF WALES, TRINITY SAINT DAVID.
Mark Knights in his extraordinary work challenges the commonly held assumption that the English Enlightenment began among the intellectual elite during the seventeenth century. According to Knights the English Enlightenment had its roots in the dynamics of local and personal struggles. The Cowper and Stout families, and the local Quaker community in Hertford, England are the focus of this historical account set against the background of the two British revolutions. The book is structured around three dramatic trials: Spencer Cowper’s murder trial , the prosecution of Henry Sacheverell , and Jane Wenham . Revolutionary change is the essence of this book as it recapitulates the local tragedy, conflict, and political and religious resistance—catalysts—which all eventually influenced the broader political, social and moral cultures of England during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.
Knights supports his micro-historical analysis with original manuscripts, judicial records, images, meticulous notes and references. Throughout the work the author also builds on the political ideas expressed by various writers and philosophers of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. […] READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE
By Karin Susan Fester (c) 2012