This compelling book from Mark Stoyle sets out to uncover the true history of Boy, the canine companion of Charles I’s famous nephew, Prince Rupert. Like his master, Boy was held to possess dark powers and was elevated to celebrity status as a ‘dog-witch’ during the English Civil War of 1642-46. Many scholars have remarked upon the fantastical rumours which circulated about Prince Rupert and his dog, but no-one has investigated the source of these rumours, or explored how the supernatural element of the prince’s public image developed over time. In this book, Mark Stoyle recounts the occult stories which centred upon Prince Rupert and his dog. He shows how those stories grew out of, and contributed to, the changing pattern of witch-belief in England during the Civil War. Shortlisted for the Folklore Society’s Katharine Briggs Award 2012.
Mark Stoyle is Professor of Early Modern History at the University of Southampton. He specialises in early modern British history, with particular research interests in the 'British crisis' of the 1640s; cultural, ethnic and religious identity in Wales and Cornwall between 1450 and 1700; and popular memory of the English Civil War from 1660 to the present day. Books include 'Loyalty and Locality: Popular Allegiance in Devon during the English Civil War' (University of Exeter Press, 1994), 'From Deliverance to Destruction: Rebellion and Civil War in an English City' (UEP, 1996), 'West Britons: Cornish Identities and the Early Modern British State' (UEP, 2002) and 'Circled with Stone: Exeter’s City Walls 1485-1660' (UEP, 2003).
A cross-over book, appealing as it should to those who are obsessed by witchcraft and those who are keen followers of civil war studies
Martyn Bennett, Nottingham Trent University
This deconstruction/reconstruction of a seventeenth century political legend is highly readable and interesting. It shows a welcome attempt to incorporate folklore research into historiography.
Folklore Society’s Katharine Briggs Award 2012 judges
Stoyle’s analysis is masterful ...a book that is immensely readable, and also worth reading.
Times Higher Education
Stoyle's analysis brings an entirely new perspective to sources that have too often been used only to add atmosphere to historical narratives. Stoyle sifts myth from reality to make some compelling suggestions about both the real Boy and the politics of witchcraft within the propaganda battles of the English Civil Wars.
Meticulously researched, persuasive and thoroughly enjoyable... [it] transcends the realm of biography ... and presents a radical new framework for viewing the mass persecution of witches in 1645-47.
The Seventeenth Century, 29.2
Mark Stoyle’s entertaining and thorough detective work pieces together the various religious, cultural and political elements that coalesced to form Rupert’s demonic reputation.
EHR, CXXIX. 540