Magic in the Middle Ages

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Cambridge University Press, 1989 - Australia - 219 pages
This textbook deals with magic, both natural and demonic, within the broad context of medieval culture. Covering the years c. 500 to 1500, with a chapter on antiquity, it invesigates the way magic relates to the many other cultural forms of the time, such as religion and science, literature and art. The book begins with a full discussion of the social history of magic and of the ways in which magical beliefs borrowed from a diversity of cultures. Thereafter, within a wider study of the growth and development of the phenomenon, the author shows how magic served as a point of contact between the popular and elite classes, how the reality of beliefs is reflected in the fiction witchcraft led to changes in the law. The chapter on medieval literature, and how the permagicalsecution of magic and er on necromancy is the most original, based largely on unpublished manuscripts and arguing for a new interpretation of the material. Adopting an interdisciplinary approach Professor Kieckhefer has taken magic from its cultural isolation and placed it firmly at the crossroads of medieval culture, as a focal point for our understanding of many other aspects of medieval history.

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About the author (1989)

Richard Kieckhefer is Professor of Religion and History at Northwestern University and an acknowledged expert on medieval magic and witchcraft. His publications include European Witch Trials: Their Foundations in Popular and Learned Culture, 1300-1500 (1976), Repression of Heresy in Medieval Germany (1979), Unquiet Souls: Fourteenth-Century Saints and Their Religious Milieu (1984), and Magic in the Middle Ages (1990).

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