Chardonnens (2016 Congress)

László Sándor Chardonnens
(Radboud University Nijmegen)

“Retrofitting Early Modern Magical Manuscripts”

Abstract of Paper
Presented at the 51st International Congress on Medieval Studies (Kalamazoo, 2016)

Session on
“Magic on the Page:  Transmission and Representation of Magic”
Sponsored by the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence
and the Societas Magica

Organized by László Sándor Chardonnens
2016 Congress Program and 2016 Congress Report

[Published on 27 April 2016]

Taking its cue from Frank Klaassen’s recent discussion of the influence of printed works of or about magic on the transmission of manuscript sources of medieval magic in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (The Transformations of Magic, pp. 176‒78), this paper seeks to address a number of issues surrounding the earliest stages of the inclusion of printed sources in magical manuscripts. While it is generally accepted in book history that the route of transmission in early modernity is from manuscript to print, Klaassen established that print sources served as important repositories for early modern producers of manuscripts of ritual magic, contrary to previously held notions, e.g., by Lynn Thorndike and Keith Thomas, that ritual magic was on its way out in the early modern period.

The main print sources Klaassen identified are Agrippa, pseudo-Agrippa, Scot, the Arbatel, and the Heptameron, to which may be added pseudo-Paracelsus, all of which became available in print in the course of the sixteenth century, often in successive editions. Yet there is no information so far on the exact route of transmission from print to manuscript, particularly in its early stages. Relevant questions addressed in this paper are whether extracting was preferred over the wholesale copying of printed works, how long it took for magical manuscripts to include information from printed sources, and which (parts of) printed works were preferred in the production of manuscripts of ritual magic. The findings are mainly based on a corpus of related magical manuscripts that entered the Sloane collection of the British Library through the 1739 auction of the manuscripts of Sir Joseph Jekyll (1661‒1738), with excursions into the Harley and Royal collections and those of other historical libraries.


Website Editor’s Note:

The other Abstracts of Papers presented by Dr. Chardonnens for our sponsored and co-sponsored Sessions at the Congress are posted here:
Chardonnens (2015 Congress).
Chardonnens (2013 Congress)
Chardonnens (2012 Congress).

We thank him for his expert and enthusiastic contributions to our sponsored or co-sponsored Sessions.


One thought on “Chardonnens (2016 Congress)

  1. Mildred Budny says:

    The 2016 Congress Report illustrates the discussion following the papers in this Session.