Making Magic in Elizabethan England: Two Early Modern Vernacular Books of Magic
Published by: Penn State University Press
Imprint: Penn State University Press
Available: December 2021
Imprint: Penn State University Press
Page Count: 160 Pages
Dimensions: 6.12 x 9.25
160 Pages, 6.12 x 9.25 x 0.44 in, 01
Not Yet Published
Examines two anonymous manuscripts of magic produced in Elizabethan England: the Antiphoner Notebook and the Boxgrove Manual. Explores how scribes assembled these texts within wider cultural developments surrounding early modern forms of magic.
This volume presents editions of two fascinating anonymous and untitled manuscripts of magic produced in Elizabethan England: the Antiphoner Notebook and the Boxgrove Manual. Frank Klaassen uses these texts, which he argues are representative of the overwhelming majority of magical practitioners, to explain how magic changed during this period and why these developments were crucial to the formation of modern magic.
The Boxgrove Manual is a work of learned ritual magic that synthesizes material from Henry Cornelius Agrippa, the Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy, Heptameron, and various medieval conjuring works. The Antiphoner Notebook concerns the common magic of treasure hunting, healing, and protection, blending medieval conjuring and charm literature with materials drawn from Reginald Scot’s famous anti-magic work, Discoverie of Witchcraft. Klaassen painstakingly traces how the scribes who created these two manuscripts adapted and transformed their original sources. In so doing, he demonstrates the varied and subtle ways in which the Renaissance, the Reformation, new currents in science, the birth of printing, and vernacularization changed the practice of magic.
Illuminating the processes by which two sixteenth-century English scribes went about making a book of magic, this volume provides insight into the wider intellectual culture surrounding the practice of magic in the early modern period.
List of Abbreviations
General Introduction: The Devil in the Details
The Antiphoner Notebook
The Boxgrove Manual
“Each of the two very different sixteenth-century texts edited here offers a panoramic view into its compiler’s world; liberally enhanced with arcane diagrams, the texts are usefully contextualized by the notes and ancillary materials Klaassen provides. In addition to the general introduction, which is both learned and comfortably reader-friendly, each magic text has an individual introduction offering a finely tuned reading sensitive to the layering of sources and the complexity of the compiler's stance. Like all Klaassen’s work, this book is meant to be enjoyed.”
—Claire Fanger, author of Conjuring Spirits: Texts and Traditions of Medieval Ritual Magic
“Those studying the history of magic want not only to look at historical books of magic that were important to practitioners, but also to the contexts in which these books were produced, circulated, and held suspect. Frank Klaassen gives excellent access to both texts and context with this edition of two particularly fascinating books. The Antiphoner Notebook and the Boxgrove Manual were produced at roughly the time of Shakespeare, and the magicians who compiled them might well have served as models for one of his characters. This expertly produced volume will be of great interest to historians and to anyone interested in early modern English culture.”
—Richard Kieckhefer, author of Forbidden Rites: A Necromancer’s Manual of the Fifteenth Century
“With this meticulous and readable edition, Klaassen excavates the world of early modern magic through a pair of grubby manuscripts. This is a perfect introduction to the history of magic.”
—Lauren Kassell, author of Medicine and Magic in Elizabethan London: Simon Forman: Astrologer, Alchemist, and Physician
“Frank Klaassen’s welcome and lively edition of two Elizabethan magical manuscripts brings to a wider readership works that would otherwise be both arcane in their subject matter and hard to access in their physical form. This is valuable in itself, but Klaassen’s adept framing of the texts adds significantly to the usefulness of his book.”
—Marion Gibson, Canadian Journal of History / Annales canadiennes d'histoire
“Klaassen has made a mark on the early modern study of magic already; with this scrupulously edited and well-contextualized and introduced document of hermetic and kabbalistic traditions of ritualistic magic, and of the writing on magic, he has expanded scholarship on magic and enriched both scholars’ and students’ understanding and appreciation of the ritualistic working of magic in further detail and within English and Continental thought and historiography.”
—Goran Stanivukovic, Renaissance and Reformation