The Italian Quattrocento

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


The consequences of the Franciscan Observants’ preaching become clear in witch trials, such as those held at Todi in 1428, and a few years later in Perugia. Where Bernardino of Siena and the others, with their classical educations, formed an image of the witch drawing on the vivid descriptions of striges in Ovid, Petronius and Apuleius, the transposition of literary topoi into the trials led to a different set of assertions. Some features of those accused of being witches (old age, unkempt hair) and the details of the accusations (the ingredients of their potions, the threat they posed to children) are informed by classical Antiquity. From Central Italy, these beliefs spread to other areas. While the first witch-hunts were raging, humanists like Giovanni Pico della Mirandola and Angelo Poliziano also wrote of striges and lamiae, but putting these classical images to a very different use.

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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MessinaMessinaItaly

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