Becoming a Witch. Women and Magic in Europe during the Middle Ages and Beyond


Edited by Andrea Maraschi and Angelica Aurora Montanari

Publication date: September, 2023

Pages: 313, colour

ISBN 978-615-6405-65-4                        Paperback, €51.00

ISBN 978-615-6405-64-7                        Hardcover, €91.00

eISBN 978-615-6405-63-0                       eBook, €91.00

For any unavailable copies on our website, please refer to our distributors: ISD LLC for North and South America and EUROSPAN for Europe and the rest of the world.


Witchery 101. An Introduction  Download PDF

Andrea Maraschi

CHAPTER 1. Religious Cafting and Subversion: Women and Magic in Early Medieval Iberian Sources

Lilian R. G. Diniz

CHAPTER 2. Women and Magic in Early Medieval England: Terms and Material Traces

Gwendolyne Knight

CHAPTER 3. Women’s Sexuality as Threat: Erotic Magic in Burchard of Worms’ Corrector sive medicus

Larissa de Freitas Lyth

CHAPTER 4. The Discourse of Wounding: Witchcraft and Ethnography in Burchard of Worms’ Decretum

Chris Halsted 

CHAPTER 5. Medieval Canon Law Scholarship and Its Repression of Magic Practices: A Cultural Premise of Early Modern Witch-Hunting?

Federica Boldrini

CHAPTER 6. Udder Calamity: Dealing with the Milk-Stealing Witch in Medieval Iceland

Beth Rogers

CHAPTER 7. Women’s Magical Knowledge and Its Gendered Circulation in Late Medieval Exempla

Andrea Maraschi

CHAPTER 8. “Divergent” Orchestic Formae: Traces in Italian Preaching (13th – 15th Century)

Angelica Aurora Montanari

CHAPTER 9. A Few Remarks on Witchcraft and Medievalism

Francesca Roversi Monaco

End-of-Term Party: Old and New Witches

Angelica Aurora Montanari

Notes on Contributors

Data sheet

Andrea Maraschi, Angelica Montanari
Trivent Medieval
Book series
Advances in the History of Magic, Witchcraft, and Religion
Book series editor(s)
Fabrizio Conti
ISBN (hardcover)
ISBN (paperback)
Publication date
September, 2023
Page numbers

Specific References

This book is not about witches. First of all, because it focuses on the Middle Ages. And, despite common misconceptions among the general public, the figure of the witch as a woman who seals a pact with the Devil is not a “medieval” invention. Becoming a Witch explores the feminization of what civil and religious authorities defined as “magic” in medieval times. It looks into the complex connections between women, the natural, the supernatural, and the tragedy of existence. 

The chapters in this book span from the far north of Europe to the Mediterranean area, and investigate topics such as divination, erotic “magic”, flying and dancing bodies, cannibalism, milk-stealing witchcraft, the circulation of “superstitious” knowledge among women, Otherness, agency, and, last but not least, contemporary representations of the witch in books, TV series, and cinema productions.

From whom did women learn their beliefs and remedies? Were they really in contact with demons? Were they a social threat? And, most importantly, should men fear and stop them?

ANDREA MARASCHI holds a PhD in History (University of Bologna, 2013). He was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Iceland from 2014 to 2017, and he taught Medieval History and Economic and Social History of the Middle Ages at the University of Bari from 2018 to 2021. He is currently a research fellow at the Interuniversity Research Centre “Seminario di Storia della Scienza” (University of Bari), and teaches Anthropology of Food at the University of Bologna. He is a member, among others, of the Interdepartmental Research Centre “Cibo in salute": Nutraceutica, Nutrigenomica, Microbiota Intestinale, Agricoltura e Benessere Sociale”. His research interests touch on food history, the history of magic and medicine, medievalism and gender studies. His latest monograph is entitled Similia similibus curantur. Cannibalismo, grafofagia e “magia” simpatetica nel medioevo (500-1500) (2020).

ANGELICA AURORA MONTANARI, PhD in Medieval History (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris), was a research fellow at the Universitade Federal Fluminense of Niteroi (Brazil); University of Cambridge (visiting scholar); University of Ostrava, University of Bologna, where she is currently a lecturer in History of the Medieval Mediterranean. Her interests focus on the history of the body, on the history of dance, on rituals of violence and on illuminated manuscripts. Angelica is co-director of the book series Animal Studies. Genetics, Anthropology and History (Trivent) and she is the author of Il fiero pasto. Antropofagie medievali (Bologna, Il Mulino, 2015); Cannibales. Histoire de l'anthropophagie au Moyen Âge (Paris, Les Éditions Arkhê, 2018). 

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