Description : In Dark Age Nunneries, Steven Vanderputten dismantles the common view of women religious between 800 and 1050 as disempowered or even disinterested witnesses to their own lives. It is based on a study of primary sources from forty female monastic communities in Lotharingia—a politically and culturally diverse region that boasted an extraordinarily high number of such institutions. Vanderputten highlights the attempts by women religious and their leaders, as well as the clerics and the laymen and -women sympathetic to their cause, to construct localized narratives of self, preserve or expand their agency as religious communities, and remain involved in shaping the attitudes and behaviors of the laity amid changing contexts and expectations on the part of the Church and secular authorities. Rather than a "dark age" in which female monasticism withered under such factors as the assertion of male religious authority, the secularization of its institutions, and the precipitous decline of their intellectual and spiritual life, Vanderputten finds that the post-Carolingian period witnessed a remarkable adaptability among these women. Through texts, objects, archaeological remains, and iconography, Dark Age Nunneries offers scholars of religion, medieval history, and gender studies new ways to understand the experience of women of faith within the Church and across society during this era.
Description : In her ground-breaking new study, Katie Bugyis offers a new history of communities of Benedictine nuns in England from 900 to 1225. By applying innovative paleographical, codicological, and textual analyses to their surviving liturgical books, Bugyis recovers a treasure trove of unexamined evidence for understanding these women's lives and the liturgical and pastoral ministries they performed. She examines the duties and responsibilities of their chief monastic officers--abbesses, prioresses, cantors, and sacristans--highlighting three of the ministries vital to their practice-liturgically reading the gospel, hearing confessions, and offering intercessory prayers for others. Where previous scholarship has argued that the various reforms of the central Middle Ages effectively relegated nuns to complete dependency on the sacramental ministrations of priests, Bugyis shows that, in fact, these women continued to exercise primary control over their spiritual care. Essential to this argument is the discovery that the production of the liturgical books used in these communities was carried out by female scribes, copyists, correctors, and creators of texts, attesting to the agency and creativity that nuns exercised in the care they extended to themselves and those who sought their hospitality, counsel, instruction, healing, forgiveness, and intercession.
Description : A fascinating study of medieval English convents, showing their ideals, lifestyle, organisation, relationships inside and outside the cloister, and failings.
Description : Intends to enable readers to track the development of different cultures, and of regional characteristics, throughout the full extent of medieval Catholic Europe. Revealing shared contexts and technological developments, this work also provides the opportunity for demonstrating the differences that were inevitably present across the Continent.