Here is an excerpt from Moldenhauer’s introduction:
While this edition of Spalding’s Elizabethan Demonology will speak for itself concerning the period of Queen Elizabeth’s reign from 1558–1603, a few notes are appropriate concerning her time, and also the time in which Spalding wrote. For when the Protestant Reformation came in 1517 with Martin Luther and his Ninety-Five Theses, the world of Roman Catholic saints and custom was thrown into public debate. This was at a time still fearful of plagues, the children’s song “Ring around the Rosey” about burning the fallen bodies of plague victims, and even the term “God Bless You” after sneezing was said to ward of evil spirits. The Devil was thought to be very much alive and active in the the period leading up to the Elizabethan era, and it is against this backdrop of religious turmoil and demonic superstition that Shakespeare produced some of the great scenes of witchcraft, fairies, ghosts and fright from the Elizabethan Era and their notions of demonic forces that Spalding explores. Some two-hundred years later, Spalding lived at a time with its own set of superstitions surrounding demonic forces, where headless train conductors became the modern version of headless horsemen. The 19th century of Spalding had a rich tradition of spiritualism, full of stories of ghosts and haunts, captured by spirit photography for the first time, and of seances, with a spirit medium contacting and speaking with the dead. The backdrop of Spalding’s writing on demonology becomes a reaction to the controlled discourse characteristic of the Victorian Era on such tabboo matters: sexuality, demonology, or the horrors of witch trials. Each were spoken of, but only in a measured way in polite company.