Document Type

Book Review

Publication Version

Published Version

Publication Date

Winter 2010

Journal or Book Title

Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft





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Magic in the medieval past is often seen through the eyes of its opponents, through trial records, inquisitorial texts, denunciatory sermons, and theological [End Page 232] treatises explaining and condemning the demonic nature of virtually all magical rites. Yet there is another way to approach at least elite, learned magic in Europe’s medieval period, namely through the texts that literate practitioners of those forms of magic have left scattered through libraries across the continent. This method of studying magic is not new, but has undergone significant development in recent years, with Richard Kieckhefer, Claire Fanger, Frank Klaassen, and Sophie Page leading the way, at least in terms of publications in English (in French, one would certainly add Jean-Patrice Boudet, Julien Véronèse, and Nicholas Weill-Parot). Now Benedek Láng adds his voice to this chorus. While the wealth of Western European libraries has hardly been exhausted—indeed it has really only begun to be sifted though—Láng usefully turns his attention, and his considerable linguistic skills, to “Central Europe,” by which he means the medieval kingdoms of Poland, Bohemia, and Hungary, and ultimately their great intellectual centers at Kraków, Prague, and Buda. His purpose is to identify and analyze magical texts that can be associated with these regions, and to characterize, insofar as he is able, the circle or circles of people who produced and patronized them, and among whom they circulated.


This is a book review from Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft 5 (2010): 232. Posted with permission.


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University of Pennsylvania Press



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