In 1510, nine men were tried in the Archbishops Court in York for attempting to find and extract a treasure on the moor near Mixindale through necromantic magic. Two decades later, William Neville and his magician were arrested by Thomas Cromwell for having engaged in a treasonous combination of magic practices and prophecy surrounding the death of Williams older brother, Lord Latimer, and the king.
In The Magic of Rogues, Frank Klaassen and Sharon Hubbs Wright present the legal documents about and open a window onto these fascinating investigations of magic practitioners in early Tudor England. Set side by side with sixteenth- and seventeenth-century texts that describe the sorts of magic those practitioners performed, these documents are translated, contextualized, and presented in language accessible to nonspecialist readers. Their analysis reveals how magicians and cunning folk operated in extended networks in which they exchanged knowledge, manuscripts, equipment, and even clients; foregrounds magicians encounters with authority in ways that separate them from traditional narratives about witchcraft and witch trials; and suggests that the regulation and punishment of magic in the Tudor period were comparatively and perhaps surprisingly gentle. Incorporating the study of both intellectual and legal sources, The Magic of Rogues presents a well-rounded picture of illicit learned magic in early Tudor England.
Engaging and accessible, this book will appeal to anyone seeking to understand the intersection of medieval legal history, religion, magic, esotericism, and Tudor history.
Frank Klaassen is Professor of History at the University of Saskatchewan. He is the author of Making Magic in Elizabethan England: Two Early Modern Vernacular Books of Magic and the award-winning The Transformations of Magic: Illicit Learned Magic in the Later Middle Ages and Renaissance, both published by Penn State University Press. Sharon Hubbs Wright is Associate Professor of History at St. Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan. She has published numerous articles on late medieval social and legal history.