Anchorites, wise folk, and magical practitioners in twelfth-century England

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This article considers the role of anchorites in twelfth-century England in relation to the less familiar categories of wise folk and magical practitioners. It examines previously unpublished evidence for the presence of healers, wise women and other magical practitioners in Anglo-Norman England and asks whether anchorites took on some of their roles. It also discusses whether their clients were primarily interested in the anchorites’ spiritual credentials, or in their ability to fulfil the roles elsewhere taken on by magical practitioners. Though our surviving pen-portraits of anchorites tend to represent them as saints in an authoritative mould, this article seeks to blur boundaries between anchorites as holy men and women and the kinds of practitioners who did not win the approval of clerical authorities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)709-726
Number of pages18
Issue number373
Early online date7 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

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