European Magic and Witchcraft: A Reader

Edited by Martha Rampton

© 2018

Magic, witches, and demons have drawn interest and fear throughout human history. In this comprehensive primary source reader, Martha Rampton traces the history of our fascination with magic and witchcraft from the first through to the seventeenth century. In over 80 readings presented chronologically, Rampton demonstrates how understandings of and reactions toward magic changed and developed over time, and how these ideas were influenced by various factors such as religion, science, and law. The wide-ranging texts emphasize social history and include early Merovingian law codes, the Picatrix, Lombard’s Sentences, The Golden Legend, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. By presenting a full spectrum of source types including hagiography, law codes, literature, and handbooks, this collection provides readers with a broad view of how magic was understood through the medieval and early modern eras.

Rampton’s introduction to the volume is a passionate appeal to students to use tolerance, imagination, and empathy when travelling back in time. The introductions to individual readings are deliberately minimal, providing just enough context so that students can hear medieval voices for themselves.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Series: Readings in Medieval Civilizations and Cultures
  • Division: Higher Education
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 480 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.0in x 9.0in
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SKU# HE000629

  • PUBLISHED MAY 2018
    From: $49.95
    ISBN 9781442634206
  • PUBLISHED MAY 2018
    From: $100.00
    ISBN 9781442634213
  • AVAILABLE JUN 2018
    From: $39.95

Quick Overview

Magic, witches, and demons have drawn interest and fear throughout human history. In this comprehensive primary source reader, Martha Rampton traces the history of our fascination with magic and witchcraft from the first through to the seventeenth century.

European Magic and Witchcraft: A Reader

Edited by Martha Rampton

© 2018

Magic, witches, and demons have drawn interest and fear throughout human history. In this comprehensive primary source reader, Martha Rampton traces the history of our fascination with magic and witchcraft from the first through to the seventeenth century. In over 80 readings presented chronologically, Rampton demonstrates how understandings of and reactions toward magic changed and developed over time, and how these ideas were influenced by various factors such as religion, science, and law. The wide-ranging texts emphasize social history and include early Merovingian law codes, the Picatrix, Lombard’s Sentences, The Golden Legend, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. By presenting a full spectrum of source types including hagiography, law codes, literature, and handbooks, this collection provides readers with a broad view of how magic was understood through the medieval and early modern eras.

Rampton’s introduction to the volume is a passionate appeal to students to use tolerance, imagination, and empathy when travelling back in time. The introductions to individual readings are deliberately minimal, providing just enough context so that students can hear medieval voices for themselves.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Series: Readings in Medieval Civilizations and Cultures
  • Division: Higher Education
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 480 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.0in x 9.0in
  • Reviews

    "A stupendous contribution to an already outstanding series of thematic primary source readers. Gripping selections from theological, legal, literary, artistic, and, of course, magical sources demonstrate the many ways people have conceived of and reacted to the occult and supernatural. This reader will be indispensable for all students of the history of premodern European magic and witchcraft."


    Michael A. Ryan, University of New Mexico

    "Anyone seeking an anthology of magic and witchcraft sources that spans the full temporal range from antiquity to the early modern period need look no further. The well-considered study questions that appear at the end of each reading make this collection perfect for the classroom."


    David Porreca, University of Waterloo
  • Author Information

    Martha Rampton is Professor of History at Pacific University. She concentrates on the early medieval period with an emphasis on social history and the activities and roles of women. She is the founder and director of the Pacific University Center for Gender Equality.
  • Table of contents

    Chapter One: Late Classical and Early Christian Archetypes

    1. Moses and Aaron Challenge the Pharaoh’s Magicians
    2. The Pythoness Brings the Dead to Life: The Witch of Endor
    3. Odysseus and Circe the Sorceress
    4. Medea: The Classical Witch
    5. Erictho: Divination Through the Dead
    6. Simon Magus: Money for Miracles
    7. Goddess Diana of the Ephesians Bests the Apostle Paul
    8. Hecate and the Chaldean Oracles
    9. Justin Martyr and the Fallen Angels
    10. The Apostle Peter Bests Simon Magus
    11. Anthony of the Desert Combats Demons
    12. Curse Tables and Binding Spells
    13. Saint Martin battles with Pagans and Demons
    14. Demons and the City of God: Augustine

    Chapter Two: Traffic with Demons

    1. Three Merovingian Laws Against Malicious Magic
    2. Caesarius of Arles Preaches Against Magic and Paganism
    3. Continuity in Magic Spells
    4. A Warning to the Peasants of the Evils of Trafficking with Demons
    5. Sorcery in Gregory of Tours’s Sixth-Century Gaul
    6. Patrick Battles Pagan Magicians
    7. Early Medieval Sainthood and Demons: Saint Radegund
    8. Isidore of Seville Defines Magic: Etymologies
    9. Penance for Sins of Magic
    10. A Demoniac in Early Medieval England: Bede

    Chapter Three: Demons Cut Down to Size

    1. An Eighth-Century List of Pagan Practices
    2. Paganism of the Saxons
    3. Beowulf Fights the Demons, Grendel and his Mother
    4. Weather Magic and Agobard of Lyon
    5. Carolingian Catalogue of Magical Acts: Council of Paris
    6. On the Magic Arts: Hrabanus Maurus
    7. Magic in the Court of Louis the Pious: Paschasius Radbertus
    8. The Devil of Kempton and the Villager
    9. Marriage and Magic: The Divorce of Lothar
    10. Loosed Women and Night Flight
    11. Anglo-Saxon Healing Cures and Charms: Leechbook of Bald
    12. Anglo-Saxon Sermon Against Augury: Aelfric of Eynsham
    13. Prayer to Mother Earth and other Charms
    14. An Eleventh-Century Penitential: Burchard of Worms

    Chapter Four: High Middle Ages—Many Threads

    1. Evil Angels: Lombard’s Sentences
    2. Divination and the Court: The Policraticus
    3. Lanval and the Fairy Queen: Marie de France
    4  The Gentle Werewolf: Marie de France
    5. Guide for the Perplexed – Jewish Magic and Maimonides
    6. Weather Well and Magic Ring: Chretien de Troyes
    7. Norse Magic: Saga of the Volsungs
    8. Magic as a Cautionary Tale: Caesarius of Heisterbach
    9. Picatrix: Arabic Magic
    10. Astronomy: Natural Magic or Necromancy—Albert the Great
    11. The Golden Legend: Saints and Devils
    12. Heresy versus Sorcery
    13. A New Kind of Devil: Thomas Aquinas

    Chapter Five: Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries—Diabolism 

    1. A Priest Dupes his Friend with a Promise of Magic: The Decameron
    2. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
    3. Key to Occult Mysteries of Solomon
    4. Clerical Magic – A Handbook
    5. A Warning to the People of Siena to Expunge Witches from the City
    6. Trial of Joan of Arc
    7. Witch Beliefs Coalesce: Formicarius
    8. The Ordinal of Alchemy
    9. Natural Magic and Renaissance Humanism: Oration on the Dignity of Man
    10. Pope Innocent VIII Empowers the Inquisitors
    11. The Witch Hammer
    12. Letter of Approbation of the Malleus Maleficarum

    Chapter Six: Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries—The Full Fury of the Witch Hunts

    1. Defending the Harvest: The Cult of the Benandanti
    2. In Praise of Natural Magic: Cornelius Agrippa
    3. Martin Luther’s Devil
    4. Papists, Popedom, and Witchery: John Calvin
    5. A Voice of Skepticism from the Medical Profession: Johann Weyer
    6. Witch Persecutions in Trier
    7. Charms, Tricks, and Day-to-Day Sorcery
    8. Demon Mania in France: Jean Bodin
    9. Mechanics of Torture
    10. King James and the Witches of North Berwick Church: “News from Scotland”
    11. Skepticism and a Forced Recantation
    12. Demonology—King James I of England
    13. Witch Panic in Bonn
    14. Shakespeare’s Witches: Macbeth
    15. A Jacobean Comedy
    16. The Witches’ Sabbat
    17. Persecution of the Burgomaster of Bamberg
    18. The Witches of Würzberg
    19. In Defense of the Accused
    20. The Demonic Possession of the Nuns of Loudun
    21. England’s Witch Finder General