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Magic and Impotence in the Middle Ages

Catherine Rider


This book investigates the common medieval belief that magic could cause impotence. Because impotence was a ground for annulling a marriage in medieval canon law, it received a large amount of discussion in the Middle Ages, and many of these discussions also described how impotence could be caused by magic. Chapters 1-4 trace the development of ideas about magically-caused impotence from the ancient world into the 12th century, arguing that medieval writers only gradually came to distinguish impotence magic from other forms of love magic. Chapters 5-9 then analyse the main kinds of sources whi ... More

Keywords: canon law, confession manuals, marriage, medicine, popular culture, theology, witchcraft

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2006 Print ISBN-13: 9780199282227
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199282227.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Catherine Rider, author
Research Fellow in Medieval History, Christ's College, Cambridge
Author Webpage