How was magic practised in medieval times? How did it relate to the diverse beliefs and practices that characterised this fascinating period?. How was magic practiced in medieval times? How did it relate to the diverse beliefs and practices that characterized this fascinating period? Richard Kieckhefer. ‘Richard Kieckhefer offers a panoramic view of a very diverse set of problems in his cogently organised and revealing book imaginative and stimulating ‘.

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Along the way the evolution of the Witch stereotype is tracked, with its explicit anti-Christian connotations. Magic had strong connections with healing, at all levels from midwives to physiciansand the preparation of medicines often involved taboos, sympathetic magic, and attention to heavenly bodies.

Richard Kieckhefer is Mwgic of Religion and History at Northwestern University and an acknowledged expert on medieval magic and witchcraft. We kieckheer evidence of this from as far back as antiquity with fictional literature as well as non-fictional writings. The in-house reform coincided with the actual 16th Century Reformation and is seen as a broad effort at reform, and the notion of superstition is a key cog in this movement. Black and white illustrations though. One significant contribution was the association of magic with women; another was the persistent strand of Christian thought that considered all magic demonic in contrast to widespread classical sentiment that magic was bad only when used to evil ends, or when it posed a threat to the social order.

Also how attitudes towards it changed over time – well worth a read! Eurocentric, but this is excusable as it is a slim volume.

My library Help Advanced Book Search. It’s still the best overall treatment of its topic. Towards the end of the Middle Ages much effort was put towards reforming the Catholic Church and to rid it from superstitious practices, and it was during this time that a misogynistic view began to fully emerge of magic and its practitioners. The chapter is really good and contains lots of information about how it was practiced, the mentality of the necromancer, and also how it was portrayed in the exemplas.


Oct 30, Christopher Plaisance rated it it was amazing Shelves: Kieckhefer approaches also several instances of Middle Age literature ‘romances’ and, still, the question lingers on: The former was believed to middls use of natural but occult hidden powers within nature and was essentially a branch of science, whilst the latter involved demons, whether implicitly or explicitly, and was heavily connected with religion.

His publications include European Wges Trials: To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. A lot of pages are spent on classical roots, influences to and from literature, and particularly the differences in perception between ‘natural’ and ‘demonic’ magic over the years.

Well, I have to do this for my first History assignment so I might as well try this before going on to write the actual assignment. Jul agds, Sonya rated it really liked it. Covering the years c.

Magic in the Middle Ages (Richard Kieckhefer) – book review

Homer’s Odysseus had to face the enchantments cast by Circe on his companions transformed into pigs in her island; to which Odysseus countered with a protecting magical herb provided by Hermes. Kieckhefer provides an interesting and easy-to-read look at what constituted “magic” in the Middle Ages, how it differed from religion, and how those views i over time.

Nov 05, Richard rated it it was amazing. Trivia About Magic in the Midd His publications include European Witch Trials: The chapter progresses through various topics such as charms, amulets and talismans, sorcery, divination and popular astrology, and trickery.

In midle, one of the more interesting things one could take away from this book is how much magic and the mystical arts were largely the preserve of churchmen and elites who wanted to preserve its status as a special thing that only they got to do!


Entertaining and easy to read.

Be the first to ask a question about Magic in the Middle Ages. Discusses the classical sources — Roman, Greek, Jewish — down to the fictional portrayal An intensive treatment of the subject drawing on a lot of primary sources. Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account. Refresh and try again.

How did it relate to the diverse beliefs and practices that characterized this fascinating period?

So too does this chapter chart the journey away from the common tradition into a much more learned type of magic, middke available to a section of society who are fully literate. He examines its relation to religion, science, philosophy, art, literature and politics before introducing us to the different types of magic that were used, the kinds of people who practised magic, and the reasoning behind their beliefs.

Want to Read saving…. In the Norse Sagas, words were the main source of magic, but in the romances gems play a much more prominent role, as do potions, herbs and artefacts with marvellous properties. We see further difference in the role played by magic in the Arthurian Legends because it becomes much more symbolic and is often portrayed as a catalyst for psychological change or betterment.

Divination and popular astrology were also part of the tradition, as was “performative” magic that used trickery and sleight of hand for entertainment.

Magic in the Middle Ages

Account Options Sign in. Mar 17, Lauren Albert rated it it was amazing Shelves: Very revealing book about magic in general.

This was a bit of background reading for my dissertation, which is on very specific bits of magic in particular Irish texts.

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