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New Medieval Books: Cunning Folk

Cunning Folk: Life in the Era of Practical Magic

By Tabitha Stanmore

Bloomsbury Publishing
ISBN: 978-63973-053-7

A look at everyday magic in England between the 14th and 17th centuries. It reveals how people from different backgrounds believed that magic could help them with various tasks, whether it be finding buried treasure or predicting the future.


We will see throughout this book that magic was the fallback option when things went wrong – or even when life wasn’t as going as well as one might like. For the most part, this wasn’t wishful thinking or the preserve of gullible people being misled by tricksters (although that certainly happened too). To the pre-modern mind, magic was a rational part of the supernatural universe in which they lived. God and the Devil, angels and demons were all real and could affect people’s lives: it made perfect sense that men and women – rich and poor, high-born and low-born – would try to harness the powers around them.


Who is this book for?

Recent years have seen renewed interest in magic in the medieval and early modern periods, and this book is a great example of what the new research is revealing. If you are interested in magic, religious beliefs or even daily life in England, this book will be a useful read.

The author

Tabitha Stanmore is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Exeter, where she researches premodern magic and witchcraft in England. You can learn more about Tabitha’s work through her university page or follow her on X/Twitter @MagicNotWitches


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