Jan Machielsen
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Contact Details:
New College
Oxford, OX1 3BN
United Kingdom

e-mail address

Research Teaching Employment Education Awards Publications Conferences


I successfully defended my DPhil on the life and writings of the Flemish-Spanish Jesuit Martin Delrio (1551-1608) in January 2011. From January to December 2011, I was a Departmental Lecturer in Early Modern European History at Balliol College, Oxford. I was a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow from 1 January 2012 to 30 September 2013. On 1 October 2013, I took up the position of Departmental Lecturer in Early Modern European History at New College, Oxford, replacing Dr David Parrott during his Leverhulme-funded research leave.

My doctorate and first monograph explored the life and works of the Jesuit Martin Delrio (17 May 1551 - 19 October 1608). Martin Delrio is best-known for his Disquisitiones Magicae (1599-1600), an influential book on demonology and superstition which was reprinted as late as 1755. Delrio’s life story has never been written. My dissertation is based on research conducted in 10 different countries. Using previously unknown letters and documents and drawing on Martin Delrio's many different writings I show that the Disquisitiones and its author have been misunderstood. Martin Delrio was an editor of classical texts and an active member of the Republic of Letters. The Disquisitiones was the work of a humanist who never even met, let alone prosecuted, a witch. I show that Martin Delrio wrote his book to carve out a scholarly reputation for himself. The Disquisitiones bears witness to the social and scientific status witchcraft theory attained at the turn of the seventeenth century.


At Oxford I have taught undergraduate courses on witchcraft history, early modern science, and the Conquest of the Americas, as well as a number of methodological and historiographical subjects. I have also given undergraduate lectures on many aspects of the history of witchcraft, the discovery of the New World, and early modern education.


Oct. 2013–Sep. 2016 Departmental Lecturer in Early Modern European History
New College, Oxford
Jan. 2012–Sep. 2013 British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship
Balliol College, Oxford
Jan.–Dec. 2011 Departmental Lecturer in Early Modern European History
Balliol College, Oxford
Oct.–Dec. 2010 Graduate Teaching Assistant in Early Modern History
Oriel College, Oxford


  • Monographs
  • Edited Volumes
  • Articles
    • ‘The Rise and Fall of Seneca Tragicus, c. 1365–1593’, The Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes LXXVII (2014): 61–85.
    • ‘The Lion, the Witch, and the King: Thomas Stapleton’s Apologia pro Rege Catholico Philippo II (1592)’, English Historical Review CXXIX (2014): 19–46.
    • ‘Friendship and Religion in the Republic of Letters: The Return of Justus Lipsius to Catholicism (1591)’, Renaissance Studies 27/2 (2013): 161–82.
    • ‘Thinking with Montaigne: Evidence, Scepticism and Meaning in Early Modern Demonology’, French History 25/4 (2011): 427–52.
    • ‘How (not) to Get Published: The Plantin Press in the 1590s’, Dutch Crossing 34/2 (2010): 99–114.
    • with Jeanine De Landtsheer, ‘Recommending Lipsius: Letter from Martinus Antonius Delrio to Leonardus Lessius’, Lias 34/2 (2008): 271–82.
  • Book Chapters
    • ‘The Counter Reformation’ in Philip Ford, Jan Bloemendal, and Charles Fantazzi, eds, Brill's Encyclopaedia of the Neo-Latin World (2 vols, Leiden: Brill, 2014), vol. 1, pp. 759–73.
    • ‘Bodin in the Netherlands’, in Howell A. Lloyd, ed., The Reception of Bodin (Leiden: Brill, 2013), pp. 157–92.
    • ‘Heretical Saints and Textual Discernment: The Polemical Origins of the Acta Sanctorum’, in Clare Copeland and Jan Machielsen, eds, Angels of Light? Sanctity and the Discernment of Spirits in the Early Modern Period (Leiden: Brill, 2013), pp. 103–41.
  • Biographical Entries
    • Entry on Martin Delrio (1551–1608) on Leiden University’s Dutch Revolt website (in Dutch).
    • ‘Pierre De Lancre (1556–1631)’, in L. Foisneau, ed., Dictionnaire des philosophes français du 17e siècle (Paris, forthcoming).
  • Reviews
    • Review of Mary Laven et al., eds, ‘The Ashgate Research Companion to the Counter-Reformation’, Innes Review 65/2: 177–80.
    • Review of Kimberly Lynn, ‘Between Court and Confessional: The Politics of Spanish Inquisitors’, European History Quarterly 44/4 (2014): 744–46.
    • Review of Arlette Jouanna, ‘The St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre: The Mysteries of a Crime of State’, European History Quarterly 44/3 (2014): 546–48.
    • Review of Brian P. Levack, ed., ‘The Oxford Handbook of Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe and Colonial America’, English Historical Review CXXIX (2014): 946–49.
    • Review of Emily Michelson et al., eds, ‘A Linking of Heaven and Earth: Studies in Religious and Cultural History in Honor of Carlos M. N. Eire’, The Journal of Ecclesiastical History 65/2 (2014): 425–27.
    • Review of Kate van Liere et al., eds, ‘Sacred History: Uses of the Christian Past in the Renaissance World’, English Historical Review CXXIIX (2013): 1560–62.
    • Review of Mark Somos, ‘Secularisation and the Leiden Circle’, English Historical Review CXXIIX (2013): 682–84.
    • Review of Thomas McCoog, ‘The Society of Jesus in Ireland, Scotland, and England, 1589–1597: Building the Faith of Saint Peter upon the King of Spain’s Monarchy’, The Innes Review 2012 (62/1), 270-72.
    • Review (in English) of Vera Hoorens, ‘Een ketterse arts voor de heksen: Jan Wier (1515–1588)’, Dutch Crossing 36/3 (2012): 279–81.
    • Review (in English) of Renilde Vervoort, ‘“Vrouwen op den besem en derghelijck ghespoock”: Pieter Bruegel en de traditie van hekserijvoorstellingen in de Nederlanden tussen 1450 en 1700’; and Guido Marnef, ed., ‘Tovenaars, heksen en een miraculeus beeld: De omgang met het bovennatuurlijke in het hertogdom Brabant (16de-17de eeuw)’, The Low Countries Historical Review.
    • Review of Judith Pollmann, ‘Catholic Identity and the Revolt of the Netherlands, 1520–1635’, The English Historical Review CXXVII (2012): 168–69.
    • Review of Oscar Gelderblom, ed., ‘The Political Economy of the Dutch Republic’, The Sixteenth Century Journal 41/4 (2010): 1136–37.
    • Review of Hiro Hirai, ed., ‘Cornelius Gemma: Cosmology, Medicine and Natural Philosophy in Renaissance Louvain’, The Sixteenth Century Journal 41/3 (2010): 933–34.
    • Review of John Newton and Jo Bath (eds), "Witchcraft and the Act of 1604", The Sixteenth Century Journal 41/1 (2010): 190–91.
    • Review of Chris Mackay (transl.), "The Malleus Maleficarum"; and Gerhild Scholz Williams (transl.), "On the Inconstancy of Witches", Journal of the Oxford University History Society 6 (2009).


2007 – Jan. 2011 DPhil in History
University of Oxford; Lady Margaret Hall (2007–2010) / Oriel College (2010–11)
Thesis Title
: Demons and Letters: Aspects of the life and works of Martin Delrio, 1551–1608
: Mr Robin Briggs
May 2010 / June 2009 Summer School Institut d’histoire de la Réformation, University of Geneva
Course (2010) : ‘Guerres de religion, la religion face à la guerre’
Course (2009) : ‘La médiation du sacré au XVIe siècle’
Jan.–April 2009 Visiting Student Research Collaborator (VSRC)
Princeton University
Supervisor : Prof. Anthony Grafton
2006–2007 MSt in Historical Research (Distinction)
University of Oxford; Lady Margaret Hall
Supervisor : Mr Robin Briggs
Examiner : Prof. Howard Hotson
2005–2006 MA in European History and Civilisation (With Merit)
Leiden University (joint MA with the University of Oxford and the Université de Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne)
Supervisor : Prof. Judith Pollmann
Jan.–March 2006 Visiting Student
Université de Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne
2002–2005 BA in Humanities and Social Sciences (Cum Laude)
Maastricht University (liberal arts degree with a focus on history and political science)
July–Nov. 2004 Visiting Student University of Queensland

Awards, Fellowships,& Scholarships

2010–2011 Royal Historical Society Marshall Fellowship (six months)
Royal Historical Society / Institute for Historical Research
2006–2010 Scatcherd European Scholarship
International Office, University of Oxford
2007–2010 Doctoral Award (EU/fees-only)
Arts & Humanities Research Council
2009–2010 Vice-Chancellors’ Fund
University of Oxford
2008–2009 Fulbright Scholarship
Netherlands-American Fulbright Commission
2007–2008 Jex-Blake Scholarship
Lady Margaret Hall

Travel & Conference Grants

September 2013 OUP/John Fell Fund (for the organisation of a one-day workshop)
University of Oxford
May 2011 OUP/John Fell Fund (grant for the organisation of a two-day symposium)
University of Oxford
May 2010 Isaiah Berlin Fund for Italian Studies (for archival research in Rome)
University of Oxford
March–April 2010 Abraham & Henrietta Brettschneider Cornell Award Fund
Cornell University
2009–2010 SRS Study Fellowship (for archival research in Munich and Graz)
Society for Renaissance Studies
August 2009 Scaliger Fellowship
Leiden University Library
July 2009 Conference Bursary (to attend a conference on Jean Bodin)
Society for the Study of French History
May 2009 / March 2008 Visiting Scholar
Royal Netherlands Institute, Rome (KNIR)

Conference Organization

21 September 2013 A Textual Reformation? Catholicism after Trent / TORCH, Oxford
One-day workshop.
20-21 May 2011 ‘Angels of Light? Sanctity and Discernment of Spirit in the Early Modern Period’ / Balliol College, Oxford
Two-day symposium, organised with Dr Clare Copeland.
27 June 2008 ‘On the Fringes of Science? Natural knowledge and its practitioners in Early Modern Europe, 1450–1650’ / All Souls College, Oxford
One-day graduate symposium, organised with Ms Valentina Pugliano.

Conference & Seminar Papers

January 2015 Early Modern Seminar / Warwick
Paper : ‘A Textual Reformation? Towards an Intellectual History of the Counter-Reformation’
December 2014 Early Modern World Seminar / Oxford
Paper : ‘The Anatomy of a Witch-Hunt? Pierre de Lancre and the Pays de Labourd (1605–1617)’
September 2014Reformation Studies Colloquium, Cambridge
Paper : ‘Reality and Fantasy in.the Past and Present: The Witches of the Pays de Labourd (1605–1617)’
May 2014Oberseminar / Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich
Paper : ‘Vigilance against Witches and One’s Inner Demons: Pierre de Lancre’s Tableau de l’inconstance des mauvais anges et demons (1612)’
April 2014 Citizens, Economists, Emperors, Clerics: The Making of Europe ? / Europaeum Graduate Workshop, Oxford
Paper : ‘The Christian Roots of Europe? History and Historiography from an Early Modernist Perspective’
March 2014Renaissance Society of America Conference ? New York
Paper : ‘Divination or Emendation? Philology and the Defence of Tradition after Trent’
February 2014 The Reception of Josephus Seminar / Exeter College, Oxford
Paper : ‘Jewish Entanglements: The Ancient Essenes and the Catholic Defence of Monasticism’
October 2013 Sixteenth Century Society Conference / San Juan, Puerto Rico
Paper : ‘Scepticism and the Supernatural: The Demonologies of Martin Delrio and Friedrich Spee’
September 2012Reformations Studies Colloquium / University of Durham
Paper : ‘Demons in a World of Learning’
May 2012 Religious Lives: Catholic Culture in the Early Modern World / St Edmund Hall, Oxford
Paper : ‘Jesuit Hagiography and the Problem of Obedience: The Vita of Martin Delrio (1609)’
February 2012 Scientific and Other Mentalities in Early Modern Europe / All Souls College, Oxford
Paper : ‘Demonology as Textual Scholarship: The Success and Failure of Martin Delrio's Disquisitiones Magicae (1599–1600)’
January 2011 Neuere Forschungen zur Kulturgeschichte Kolloquium / University of Saarbrücken
Paper : ‘Truth and Lies: (Re-)constructing the Worldview of Martin Delrio (1551–1608)’
November 2010 Director’s Seminar / Institute for Historical Research, London
Paper : ‘Classical Texts and Humanist Self-fashioning: Martin Delrio’s Adversaria (1576)’
October 2010 Early Modern European History Seminar / History Faculty, Oxford
Paper : ‘How to Talk about Family: Martin Delrio’s Memoirs on the Dutch Revolt (1576–78)’
May 2010 Crossing Frontiers: Belief in Magic and Witch-Hunting as Culture Transfer / German Historical Institute, Paris
Paper : ‘“Marvellously Consistent throughout Europe and across All Ages”: The Nature of Evidence in Martin Delrio's Disquisitiones Magicae (1599–1600)’
May 2010 Conference in Honour of Robin Briggs / New College, Oxford
Paper : ‘A Tale of Two Cousins: Martin Delrio and Michel de Montaigne’
April 2010 History Seminar / Cornell University
Paper : ‘Elizabeth Regina: A Witch in Flemish Eyes?’
October 2009 Low Countries Seminar / Institute for Historical Research, London
Paper : ‘Justifying the Indefensible? Defending the rule of Don Juan of Austria (1576–1578)’
May 2009 Sixteenth Century Society Conference / Geneva
Paper : ‘Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Justus Lipsius and His Relationship with Martin Delrio and Joseph Scaliger’
March 2009 Renaissance Society of America Conference / UCLA, Getty Museum
Paper : ‘War Continued by Other Means: Learned Polemics and the Dutch Revolt’
March 2009 Princeton University Center for the History of the Book and Media
Paper : ‘How (not) to Get Published: The Plantin Press in the 1590s’
January 2009 Princeton-Harvard Graduate Conference / Princeton University
Paper : ‘“Between the Jaws of Barking Dogs and the Bellowing of Lions”: Martin Delrio and Justus Lipsius’s return to Catholicism’
November 2008 Early Modern Philosophy and the Scientific Imagination Seminar (EMPHASIS) / Senate House, University of London
Paper : ‘Demonology 101? Magic and the University of Leuven’
April 2008 Reformation Studies Colloquium / University of York
Paper : ‘Demonology and the Dutch Revolt’

© Jan Machielsen; Last Updated: 23 June 2015.