Christopher Plaisance's Reviews > Magic in the Middle Ages

Magic in the Middle Ages by Richard Kieckhefer
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's review
Nov 11, 11

bookshelves: western-esotericism, history
Read from November 03 to 11, 2011

In this volume Kieckhefer presents a clear and concise description of Medieval magic which, by means of illustrations throughout from exemplars of period texts manages to effect a presentation of magic's history as it was present in various sectors of Medieval society. Of particular interest to me was his exploration of the so-called “clerical underworld” as the fountainhead of Medieval necromancy. This fascinated me both in that it was this group who was at once responsible for the semantic alteration of the term “necromancy” to mean demonic evocation and for the adaption of clerical exorcisms into the evocative rites of the Medieval grimoire tradition. Overall, as an introduction to the phenomenon of Medieval magic, Kieckhefer's text provides a sound overview which can, perhaps, only be seriously faulted for relying a bit too much on secondary sources—something which makes the investigation of the magicians themselves more difficult for researchers.
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