Class Central is learner-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.


Magic in the Middle Ages

University of Barcelona via Coursera


Magical thought has always attracted human imagination. In this course we will introduce you to the Middle Ages through a wide conception of magic. Students will have an approach to medieval culture, beliefs and practices from the perspective of History and History of Science. Popular magic, as well as learned magic (alchemy, geomancy and necromancy) will be addressed. Moreover, we will also deal with how eastern practices and texts influenced western culture. In July 2016, the course will contain a brand-new module devoted to astrology. Magic in the Middle Ages offers a captivating overview of medieval society and promotes reflection about certain stereotypes associated with this period.

At the end of the course, the students:

a) will have overcome the usual prejudices about the Middle Ages,
b) will be able to analyze historical documentation from the Middle Ages and recognize the most common patterns of juridical documents regarding witchcraft, and
c) will be capable of distinguishing between popular magic and the magic of the learned people; will have a notion of which spiritual practices were allowed in medieval Europe and which ones were related to the devil, and will be aware of the link between a cultural product and the society that produced it.

This course is taught in English, although subtitles in English, Catalan and Spanish will also be provided.


Week 1. Introduction to medieval magic (Pau Castell).

Week 2. Magic & Heresy (Delfi I. Nieto-Isabel).

Week 3. From Magic to Witchcraft (Pau Castell).

Week 4. Magic in Islam (Godefroid de Callataÿ and Sébastien Moureau).

Week 5. Astrology & Geomancy (Theo Loinaz, Delfi I. Nieto-Isabel, Godefroid de Callataÿ and Blanca Villuendas).

© Gemma Pellissa Prades (coord.), Delfi I. Nieto-Isabel and Joana Palau Mumany
Magic in the Middle Ages by Gemma Pellissa Prades (coord.), Delfi I. Nieto-Isabel and Joana Palau Mumany is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Taught by

Noemí Alvarez da Silva, Godefroid de Callataÿ, Pau Castell Granados, Sébastien Moureau, Gemma Pellissa Prades and Delfi Nieto-Isabel


3.8 rating, based on 16 Class Central reviews

Start your review of Magic in the Middle Ages

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous is taking this course right now.

    The material is good and interesting but in Units 3 and 4 there are peer review submissions - that is you write a shot piece, as defined by tutors and submit it for peer review by at least 3 other people on the course. This part of the course is badly designed: the layout and presentation of the questions and review process is muddled and the peer review element simply does not work. A shame because it badly let's down the content of the on line units.
  • Joanna Maryniak completed this course, spending 3 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    This course was nice and informative if somewhat simplistic. I liked the forums very much, the interaction there was great. Basing the lecture videos on single historical documents was a great idea.

    A technical sidenote: what should be definitely fixed in the next run is the horrible one-sided audio in the video. Listening to this course on headphones was plain painful.
  • Anne

    Anne completed this course, spending 4 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    Of 5 weeks the first two were very good, the forth, on the Islamic view of magic, was in very poor English making it extremely difficult to follow. The assignments were very poorly designed. It was impossible to work out what was required and the rubrics guiding the reviewers did not accord with the question set.
    Over all unsatisfactory but not a complete waste of time.
  • Ronald Hesson completed this course, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    Interesting course. Not what I expected, but I'm not sure what I expected. The 3rd unit with Godefried (?) on the topic of Arabic influence did not appeal to me. Accents were sometimes difficult to follow. i had to slow the speed to 75% to keep up.
  • Isidora Dumitrov is taking this course right now, spending 4 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.

    Very imaginative course. Lots of information was offered and very unique perspectives. It seems that educators are hands on, folowing student's comments.
  • Cindy Tao

    Cindy Tao is taking this course right now.

  • Olga Pligavka is taking this course right now.

  • Raven completed this course.

  • Profile image for Pamylle Greinke
    Pamylle Greinke

    Pamylle Greinke completed this course.

  • Profile image for Tea Pants
    Tea Pants

    Tea Pants completed this course.

  • Yue Yun completed this course.

  • Francisco Javier Jiménez

    Francisco Javier Jiménez completed this course.

  • Dave Rawlings completed this course.

  • Jo

    Jo completed this course.

  • Melissa R

    Melissa R completed this course.

  • Mohamed Salah

    Mohamed Salah completed this course.

Never Stop Learning.

Get personalized course recommendations, track subjects and courses with reminders, and more.