From quack to devil-worshipper. Magic, heresy, and justice in Late Medieval Utrecht (1322 - c. 1528)
Ark, D. van
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The study of magic and sorcery in medieval- and early modern society in the present day Netherlands reached its high point in the 1980s and 1990s. Scholars called for a move away from the prior focus on witchcraft trials and proposed to do research to the wider magical worldview of the common man and woman. A downside of this anthropological method is that it requires very extensive source material which is scant for the late medieval period. Because of this lack of sources, scholars of the anthropological school have focussed on material from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and passed by many medieval sources as these did not fit in the later model of diabolical witchcraft. Focussing on the city of Utrecht, this thesis reviews the medieval judicial sources on magic from a pragmatic angle. It argues that the way authorities treated magic was in essence no different than its approach to other socially disruptive offences. The Utrecht Council's treatment of magic is taken as reflective of how the magistrate perceived it as a threat to city society. The well-known stereotype of diabolic witchcraft found its way into Utrecht trials in the 1510s and 1520s, a hypothesis is presented on why this transition from a traditional treatment of magic to the persecution of diabolic witchcraft occurred at this particular time.