This introductory chapter sets out the book's purpose, which is to investigate the liminal status that occult practices, especially those involving astronomy and astrology, occupied in the late Middle Ages. The term “liminal” is used because attitudes toward the occult, including its legitimacy, were never stable or fixed during the Middle Ages. The study focuses on one particular geographic region, the coastal Iberian kingdom of the Crown of Aragon, during the reigns of Pere (Peter) el Cerimoniós, the Ceremonious (r. 1336–1387); Joan (John) el Caçador, the Hunter (r. 1387–1396); and Martí (Martin) I, l'Humà, the Humane (r. 1396–1410). In this kingdom, as in much of late medieval Europe, the occult held an important place in people's conception of the world.
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