Prepare for tricks, treats, and time travel! In honor of Halloween, we’re traveling back to the mid-seventeenth century to investigate a case of demonic possession and the practice of exorcism in New France.
Mairi Cowan, an Associate Professor of History at the University of Toronto, Mississauga, joins us to investigate the life of a young French woman named Barbe Hallay and her demonic possession. Cowan is the author of The Possession of Barbe Hallay: Diabolical Arts and Daily Life in Early Canada.
About the Show
Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.
It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.
Ben Franklin’s World is a production of the Omohundro Institute.
Mairi Cowan, an Associate Professor of History at the University of Toronto, Mississauga, joins us to investigate the life of a young French woman named Barbe Hallay and her demonic possession and exorcism.
Using details from her book The Possession of Barbe Hallay: Diabolical Arts and Daily Life in Early Canada, Mairi reveals the layout of Quebec City in 1660 and what it looked and sounded like; Catholicism in early New France and how it was practiced; And, the case of Barbe Hallay and her demonic possession.
What You’ll Discover
- New France and Québec City in 1660
- Life, sights, and smells of colonial Québec City
- The religious life of Québec in 1660
- Religion and spiritualism in 17th-century Québec
- Witchcraft in New France
- Barbe Hallay and her voyage to New France
- Migration patterns to New France
- New France demographics
- Marriage in New France
- Barbe Hallay’s demonic possession
- Reactions to Hallay’s possession
- Witchcraft and Barbe Hallay’s possession
- Suspected witch Daniel Vuil
- Courts in seventeenth-century Québec City
- Daniel Vuil’s fate
- Barbe Hallay’s behavior after Vuil’s execution
- The work of ending demonic possession
- Healthcare in early modern New France
- Exorcism of Barbe Hallay
- Barbe Hallay’s life after possession
- Historical perspective on Barbe Hallay’s possession
Links to People, Places, and Publications
- Mairi Cowen
- Mairi on Twitter
- Allan Greer
- Catherine Desbarats
- Richard White, The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650-1815
- Brian Levack, The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe
- Omohundro Institute
- Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
- Hannah Farber, Underwriters of the United States: How Insurance Shaped the American Founding(Use 01BFW to save 40 percent)
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Time Warp Question
In your opinion, what might have happened if more individuals had shown signs of demonic possession alongside Barbe? Do you think 1660-Québec would have seen a witch hunt like the one we see in Salem, Massachusetts in the 1690s?
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