Magic in the Middle Ages: Context (HIH3267)

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 Context module will focus on the social and cultural context of medieval magic and analyse the debates in modern historiography surrounding these issues, while the co-requisite Sources module (HIH 3266) will provide close focus on the sources available for the study of medieval magic.