This book takes as its subject the magical concerns and beliefs, and the demonic theories and practices, of some of the greatest thinkers of the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, from Ficino, Pico della Mirandola, to Jean Bodin, Francis Bacon and Campanella.
At a time when most scholars tended to view magic as a marginal subject, Walker showed that magic was one of the most typical creations of the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and that ‘Spiritus’ played an important role in the Renaissance. Magic was, as this book demonstrates, profoundly interconnected with religion, music and medicine.
First published by the Warburg Institute in 1958, Spiritual and Demonic Magic is an acknowledged landmark in Renaissance studies. It is remarkable for the clarity of the writing, and the endurance of its groundbreaking argument. This classic text is essential reading for students seeking to understand the assumptions, beliefs and convictions that informed the thinking of the Renaissance. No one studying the history of European thought from the Council of Florence to the eighteenth century can afford to be without it.
‘Remains the basis of contemporary scholarly understanding of the theory of magic in post-medieval Europe . . . will appeal not only to scholars and students in a number of fields (cultural and intellectual history, history of science, art history, literature, religious studies) but also to the much larger popular market for occultism.’ - Brian Copenhaver
‘As a general introduction to magic in Renaissance intellectual history, Walker is still the best available.’ - Richard Kieckhefer
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