This is a highly original study of possession by demons and their exorcism, which was rife in early modern times, focussing on the place where they were most prevalent, France.
Catholics at the time believed that the devil was present everywhere, in the rise of the heretics, in the activities of witches, and even in the bodies of the pious young women. The rite of exorcism was intended to heal the possessed and show the power of the church - but it generated as many problems as it resolved. Possessed nuns endured frequently violent exorcisms, exorcists were suspected of conjuring devils, and possession itself came to be seen as a form of holiness, elevating several women to the status of living saints.
Sarah Ferber offers a challenging study of one of the most intriguing phenomena of early modern Europe; looking also at the present day, it argues that early modern conflicts over the devil still carry an unexpected force and significance for western Christianity.