The Andalusian Studies Centre and the Renacimiento publishing house publish a unique essay which offers an exhaustive study of the mentality and practice of magic from the 16th to the 18th century in Andalusia.
Many studies have been made of magic and sorcery. However, following an exhaustive process of compiling and researching the documents of the Tribunal of the Spanish Inquisition, this study by the doctor in History from the University of Malaga, Rafael Martín Soto, is the first one to focus on the more everyday aspects of magic, bringing to life the persons who formed part of the process: the sorcerors, the clients, the witnesses and the victims. “In Spain we have highly valuable information in the registers of the Tribunals of the Inquisition, through the prosecutor’s allegations presented in each case. There is information about those involved and even regarding the districts where these sorcerors lived. These tribunals investigated matters which were not dealt with or documented in any other tribunal in Europe”, explains Martín Soto.
This more everyday focus is what distinguishes this book published in Spanish by the Andalusian Studies Centre and the Renacimiento publishing house, ‘Magic and Everyday Life. Andalusia, 16th-18th Century’: eleven chapters the result of intense compilation and research in the archives and cases of the Tribunal of the Inquisition in Spain by Rafael Martín Soto.
This essay also describes the interrelationship between the Church and magic, its benefits and its totally disproportionate prejudices, for magic was a common practice which took place on a day to day basis, with no element of obscurantism.
Although the author assures that the results and the practices in this study could in most cases be extrapolated to other regions of Spain and Europe, Martín Soto describes the Andalusia of the time as a “benchmark for magical practices” where disciples came to learn. This essay is a vindication of the originality and singularity of Andalusian magic, deriving from the presence of Muslims in the region who, among other things, had schools of talisman magic, leaving an important legacy in this field in Andalusia. In fact, many figures such as Leonor Rodríguez (one of the famous Camachas sisters) came during this period to study magic in Cordoba, Seville and above all Granada.
The author of the essay clarifies the difference between witches and sorcerors. “Witches were those who abandoned religion to make a pact with the devil and they were burned at the stake. However, sorcerors considered their work as a trade and did not deny religion, even going to mass every day. They received sentences of exile or whippings which in the majority of cases enhanced their fame and prestige.
In Andalusia the majority belonged to this latter group. However, “in this period magic knew no distinctions of class or education, being an instrument recurred to by noblemen and the educated as well as lower class, illiterate folk”. Martín Soto describes in the essay various cases in high circles.
Some were merely scams, such as that which the Count-Duke of Olivares suffered when he was tricked as to the supposed existence of a treasure. Others the author describes as “blood-curdling”. One such case was the nobleman of Granada, Andrés Segura, who sought longevity. “He had a group of sorcerors who worked for him and who had him eat gruel made from dead men’s testicles to conserve his virility and blood of unchristened children obtained while the children suffered”.
However, the typical client of magic was a woman with relationship woes or who sought to protect herself from her husband, eliminate rivals or conquer the heart of a man, in a period when the solutions were often cruel as there was very little value placed on human life. Magic was also called upon to speak to the dead, make money, find work or see into the future. “Magic was always the last resort in all periods, even today” concludes Martín Soto.
Article provided by Centro de Estudios Andaluces