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Around a theme. The female community of the Order of St. James in Portugal: a journey from the late 15th century to the 16th century

Around a theme. The female community of the Order of St. James in Portugal: a journey from the late 15th century to the 16th century

By Joel Silva Ferreira Mata

E-Journal of Portuguese History, Vol.6:1 (2008)

Abstract: The study of the religious women of the Order of St. James in Portugal during the period mentioned in the title of this paper is intended to show the way in which they observed the vows that they had taken when they donned their habits, how they lived inside the monastery, how they administered their property, how they related to civil society, and how they adapted to the new times brought by modernity. Although the Master of the order Dom Jorge, drew attention in the early 16th century to the fact that the doors of the monastery should not be opened to women who were not related to the male branch of the Order i.e. relatives of the friar-knights: daughters, wives or widows, documentation reveals that some of the religious women did not belong to the relatives of the members of the Order.

Furthermore, it is interesting to understand the mechanisms that led to the donning of the habit. These women lived in a monastic house which was consecrated by the Monastery of Santos, although, over the course of the Middle Ages, they changed quarters at least twice. During the period covered by this study, they were always supervised by a woman belonging to the family of the Master Dom Jorge. With this study, we can gain a better knowledge of a community that existed in Portugal from the late 12th century onwards.

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