Magic in the Middle Ages: Sources (HIH3266)

30 credits

This course explores how medieval people thought about magic and the magical practices that they used.  It takes a long chronological sweep, from the period of conversion to Christianity in the early Middle Ages to the development of new ideas about witchcraft in the fifteenth century.  The course will examine the key changes which took place during the period, including the Church’s efforts to Christianise popular practices; the impact of new magical texts which circulated in Europe from the twelfth century onwards; intellectual debates about what magic was and how it worked; and the rising number of trials of magical practitioners. It will also examine how these factors contributed to the invention of a new crime, witchcraft, and the first witch trials.  This Sources module will bring together a wide range of evidence, including religious treatises, academic theology, magical texts, works of literature and trial records to examine both the reality of medieval magic and perceptions of it, while the co-requisite Context module (HIH 3267) will place this evidence in its social and cultural context, and analyse the key debates in modern historiography.