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Magic and Impotence in the Middle Ages$
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Catherine Rider

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199282227

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199282227.001.0001

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Impotence Magic and the Rise of Witchcraft

Impotence Magic and the Rise of Witchcraft

(p.186) 10 Impotence Magic and the Rise of Witchcraft
Magic and Impotence in the Middle Ages

Catherine Rider (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the way in which 15th-century writers of canon law, theology, and medicine wrote about impotence magic. In particular, it traces how these authors were influenced by rising concerns about witchcraft and by the earliest witch trials. It argues that many discussions of impotence magic in canon law and theology copied earlier authors without mentioning contemporary witch trials, but that some writers in these genres emphasized the role of demons in magic more than their sources had. Medical writers, by contrast, responded more directly to the witch trials, mentioning cases of impotence magic that they had heard about. Their responses varied, however. Jacques Despars and Antonio Guaineri were sceptical of the demonic powers ascribed to witches. Giovanni Michele Savonarola, on the other hand, emphasized the demonic nature of many magical cures.

Keywords:   Antonio Guaineri, canon law, demons, Giovanni Michele Savonarola, Jacques Despars, medicine, theology, witch trials

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