Maleficia: From Late Antiquity to the High Middle Ages

  • Marina MontesanoEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Historical Studies in Witchcraft and Magic book series (PHSWM)


The Roman Imperial legislation concerning maleficia was severe. In the third century, people found guilty of causing death by the use of spells were condemned to being burned alive. The first Christian councils, held in Late Antiquity, merged the Roman with the Biblical traditions and treated sorcery with the same seriousness. The barbaric codes also dealt with magic, and this chapter tracks which parts of Latin culture and Roman legislation survived through the early Middle Ages, and what the role of these was—noting in particular the many ways in which these laws influenced the juridical codes of the ‘Barbarians’. The greatest evident influence is seen in language, as using Latin to translate ideas and beliefs originally born in another context was never an easy task.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MessinaMessinaItaly

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