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Magic in the Middle Ages
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  • 23 b/w illus.
  • Page extent: 240 pages
  • Size: 216 x 138 mm
  • Weight: 0.31 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 133.4/3/0940902
  • Dewey version: 21
  • LC Classification: BF1593 .K53 2000
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Magic--Europe--History

Library of Congress Record



 (ISBN-13: 9780521785761 | ISBN-10: 0521785766)

DOI: 10.2277/0521785766

Replaced by 9781107431829

 (Stock level updated: 17:00 GMT, 30 November 2015)



How was magic practised in medieval times? How did it relate to the diverse beliefs and practices that characterised this fascinating period? In Magic in the Middle Ages Richard Kieckhefer surveys the growth and development of magic in medieval times. 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. In addition, he shows how magic served as a point of contact between the popular and elite classes, how the reality of magical beliefs is reflected in the fiction of medieval literature, and how the persecution of magic and witchcraft led to changes in the law. This 2000 book places magic at the crossroads of medieval culture, shedding light on many other aspects of life in the middle ages.

• First, and very readable, interdisciplinary study of magic in the Middle Ages • Clear and lively account of various types of magic, both natural ('White') and demonic ('Black'), of attitudes to their existence, and to ways of using them • Excellent sales of book in Cambridge Medieval Textbooks series: should attract wide general readership outside series and sell very well


List of illustrations; Preface; 1. Introduction: magic as a crossroads; 2. The classical inheritance; 3. The twilight of paganism: magic in Norse and Irish culture; 4. The common tradition of medieval magic; 5. The romance of magic in courtly culture; 6. Arabic learning and the occult sciences; 7. Necromancy in the clerical underworld; 8. Prohibition, condemnation, and prosecution; Further reading; Index.


'Richard Kieckhefer offers a panoramic view of a very diverse set of problems in his cogently organised and revealing book … imaginative and stimulating …'. Journal of Medieval History

'… a readable and lively book, whose particular strengths are its confidence and clarity in defining different sorts of magical activities, and the sharp illustrative details … he deserves congratulations.' History

'The range of primary texts, often quoted from manuscript, and the coverage of secondary literature, in many languages, are impressive features. This is a valuable survey which few will read without learning something new.' The Times Higher Education Supplement

'… stands out amid the many speculative efforts which preceded it; it can be highly recommended as a concise and authoritative history of medieval magic.' Ambix

'This book can be highly recommended.' Medical History

' … an excellent introduction to an interesting and expanding subject.' BBC History Magazine

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