Magic in Medieval Manuscripts
Magic existed in diverse forms in the Middle Ages, from simple charms to complex and subversive demonic magic. Its negative characteristics were defined by theologians who sought to isolate undesirable rituals and beliefs, but there were also many who believed that the condemned texts and practices were valuable and compatible with orthodox piety.
Magic in Medieval Manuscripts explores the place of magic in the medieval world and the contradictory responses it evoked, through an exploration of images and texts in British Library manuscripts. These range from representations of the magician, wise-woman and witch, to charms against lightning, wax images for inciting love, and diagrams to find treasure. Most elaborate of all the magical practices are rituals for communicating with and commanding spirits. Whether expressions of piety, ambition, or daring, these rituals reveal a medieval fascination with the points of contact between this world and the celestial and infernal realms.