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From sortilegio to diabolical sorcery: theological and canonistic developments from Lombard and Gratian to Inquisitorial handbooks

Page, V. (2021) From sortilegio to diabolical sorcery: theological and canonistic developments from Lombard and Gratian to Inquisitorial handbooks. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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To link to this item DOI: 10.48683/1926.00115163


The aim of this thesis is to explore the role of theology in the changing perceptions of magic throughout the medieval period and to demonstrate that this laid the foundations for the later emergence of the witchcraft stereotype. The way in which magic was perceived by various authorities in the medieval period has been addressed in a wide range of modern literature. The role of theological texts and commentaries in these changes has been largely overlooked, however. This thesis thus seeks to make a new contribution by tracing developments from Peter Lombard’s twelfth century Sententiarum through its commentaries in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The Malleus maleficarum is utilised as the end point of this study and as representative of the understanding of demonic magic in fifteenth-century Europe. This study demonstrates that theology provides many significant developments regarding the medieval understanding of magic between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries. It explains that Lombard’s Sententiarum, drawing from the Church Fathers, describes magic as an entirely demonic construct which could not be utilising any other source of power. This idea was built on by the theological commentaries, resulting in the concept of the demonic pact as a fundamental element of magic. Similarly, it is shown that that the range of practices identified as demonic magic in the theological texts dictates those associated with magic by the end of the fifteenth century, and that the explicit identification of demonic magic as a form of heresy in the thirteenth century led to the interest in magic from the Inquisition and the eventual rise of the witch trials. The significance of this study is its demonstration of the importance of medieval theology to the evolving perceptions of magic and its demonic nature which ultimately led to the emergence of the witchcraft stereotype in the Early Modern period.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Parish, H.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Humanities
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Humanities > History
ID Code:115163


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