Michael D. Bailey

Medieval European History: Magic, Witchcraft, Superstition & Heresy


Dept:World Languages And Cultures
Office:649 Ross
527 Farm House Ln.
Ames IA


I am a historian of the European Middle Ages, having received my PhD from Northwestern University in 1998. My research focuses on late medieval religious history, particularly the history of magic, witchcraft, and superstition, as well as heresy and religious reform. I also study the history of magic globally from antiquity to the present day.

I have published eight books, including most recently Magic: The Basics (2018) and Origins of the Witches' Sabbath (2021), and more than twenty-five articles in academic journals and edited volumes. I also serve as an associate editor of the interdisciplinary journal Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft, which I helped to found in 2006. My current research explores skepticism and disbelief about magic in medieval Europe and more broadly examines various forms of perceived religious falsity.

Over the course of my career I have held Fulbright, DAAD, and Humboldt fellowships abroad, as well as a Mellon Fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania and a Solmsen Fellowship at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 2023 I was elected a Fellow of the Medieval Academy of America.