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Who was Lady Constance of Angers? Nuns as poets and correpondents at the monastery of Ronceray d’Angers in the early twelfth century

Who was Lady Constance of Angers? Nuns as poets and correpondents at the monastery of Ronceray d’Angers in the early twelfth century

By Belle Tuten

Medieval Perspectives, Vol. 19 (2004)

Introduction: Cloistered monastics wrote to one another a good deal in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. The epistolary medium provided ways of forging new relationships, exercising literary skills, and enjoying friendships at a distance. Many of these letters survive in collections designed to preserve the work of famous literary figures. But historians have always had difficulty identifying the less prominent correspondents in literary relationships; they are hard to find in other documents, and often their letters do not survive to be copied into collections. This is particularly true when the correspondents are women. Constance of Angers was one of the female correspondents of Baudry, abbot of the French abbey of  St.Pierre de Bourgueil from around 1078 to 1107 and archbishop of Dol from 1107 to his death in 1130. Constance, for whom Baudry seems to have written three poems, is the only one of his correspondents from whom an answering poem survives. Their love poems are playful and at at times erotic explorations of classical and religious imagery.

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