The Renaissance Magicians
During the 11th to the 15th centuries magic took many forms. Astrologers, alchemists, sorcerers, and wizards claimed mystical powers and knowledge of the occult. Kings often employed these advisors in their courts and depended upon their wise council. The church, apparently threatened by magic, tried and executed witches and other practitioners of the so-called black arts. These trials soon degraded into vendettas against unpopular townsfolk.
At the same time there were magicians who performed at fairs and at court. These harmless tricksters were much in demand for their unusual and mystifying entertainment. Many of the magical effects we enjoy today, even "new ones" we see on TV specials, were first performed by medieval magicians.
Our Renaissance Magic Shows recreate the lighthearted spirit of those early entertainers. Many of the magic effects we perform was also performed then and the methods are largely the same.
Magicians were not officially in the court's service. There were not too many of them, as it was not always easy to get employment as a person dealing with the occult. The Christian institutions strictly forbade the use of magic, but some lords still thought employing magicians could be useful.
Magicians or soothsayers were employed primarily for telling the future, sometimes as astrologers, and for providing miracle cures. There are also accusations of magicians being used to curse individuals hostile to their lord - usually other courtiers - but in these cases it is difficult to distinguish between political trials inspired by courtly rivalry, and 'real' magic.
Magicians at times also did magic tricks to amuse an audience; even the familiar 'sawing the woman in half' trick appeared in their repertoire, as an impressed clerk noted down in the financial accounts of the county of Holland.