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Witchcraft and Magic in the Nordic Middle Ages


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Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Witchcraft and the Past
Chapter 2. Magic and Witchcraft in Daily Life
Chapter 3. Narrating Magic, Sorcery, and Witchcraft
Chapter 4. Medieval Mythologies
Chapter 5. Witchcraft, Magic, and the Law
Chapter 6. Witchcraft, Sorcery, and Gender
Epilogue: The Medieval Legacy

Works Cited

About the Author

Stephen A. Mitchell is Professor of Scandinavian and Folklore at Harvard University and author of Heroic Sagas and Ballads.


"Witchcraft and magic involve issues that cut across disciplines, and Mitchell has produced a solid, impressively interdisciplinary contribution to our understanding of them. . . . A significant regional study of a neglected era, [this] book also makes important contributions to our larger understanding of European witchcraft and magic and makes exemplary use of interdisciplinary approaches."-Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"Mitchell's book provides an excellent overview of research and at the same time shows in a convincing manner how popular conceptions of witches and sorcerers changed in the North during the Middle Ages."-Svenska Dagbladet

"This important book accomplishes several major goals. It illuminates a previously little-examined aspect of Scandinavian history, namely magic in the post-Viking but pre-Reformation centuries. It advances some valuable and broadly applicable methodologies for studying conversion and Christianization. And it successfully integrates Nordic developments into the overall history of magic and witchcraft in medieval Europe even as it highlights uniquely Scandinavian components of that history."-American Historical Review

"Mitchell provides a comprehensive and enlightening survey of beliefs and narratives concerning supernatural aggression in medieval Scandinavia . . . [creating] an effective and evocative bridge through the long and richly storied era that begins in the pre-Christian Viking Age and ends in the Reformation."-Journal of English and Germanic Philology

"A clearly written, sophisticated consideration of the dynamics of popular and elite cultures of religion, witchcraft, shamanism, and magic during the medieval period in the Nordic region."-The Journal of Religion and Popular Culture

"Thorough and subtle. . . . The material assembled here is rich, varied, and often unfamiliar. The sociohistorical picture Professor Mitchell draws from it will be of great value not only to scholars of Scandinavia but to anyone interested in the complex history of European witch-beliefs."-Folklore

Mitchell's book is fascinating and valuable . . . not only because it fills a gap and gives us a rich store of material previously too little known but also because it raises questions about the distinctive resonance magic and witchcraft could have even in a time of deep and widespread integration into European culture."-Catholic Historical Review

"This well-written book will be of great interest to specialists (and students) of Old Norse culture and history as well as to historians of European magic. Finally, this is a text that ought to interest students of religion, who have here an excellent study of 'religious' change."-Journal of Religion

"This excellent book aims to rectify a lacuna in the study of Nordic witchcraft beliefs. . . . To do the subject matter justice requires both a deep understanding of the history and social structures of the region and period, and an ability to work with a huge and varied corpus of source materials. Mitchell is exceptionally well suited to the task."-Scandinavian Studies

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