Magic was viewed as dangerous, irresponsible and heretical by people in the Late Middle Ages, yet some medieval people were nevertheless compelled – by curiosity, desire and need – to experiment with it. Dr Sophie Page explores what magic was, why it attracted both fascination and repulsion, and what its practice tells us about the attitudes of medieval people to their universe and the invisible and sacred forces inhabiting it.
The mystery object unveiled during the event was 'Miscellanea Alchemica XII', a late-15th-century manuscript in Dutch and Latin; it is one of only three surviving manuscripts that include demonic magic. It also includes cautious notes by later readers who didn't approve of some items in the text.
See the object
This manuscript is from the Wellcome Library, reference MS.517.
This event was recorded live at Wellcome Collection on 25 January 2012.