BOOK REVIEW: The Tapestry by Nancy Bilyeau

The Tapestry by Nancy Bilyeau

Joanna Stafford, our intrepid ex-Dominican super sleuth is at it again. This time, she’s hurled straight into the midst of plotting and deception at Henry VIII’s court.

The Nun’s Crown

nuns crown

The nun’s crown, a white linen circlet with overlapping bands forming a cross worn over her veil, formed part of the dress of monastic women in northern Germany.

‘Forget Your People and Your Father’s House’: Teresa de Cartagena and the Converso Identity

Teresa de Cartagena

Religion is a very important factor to take into consideration in discussions about the identity of the conversos [converts] or New Christians, an emerging group in 15th-century Castile.

An Apostolic Vocation: The Formation of the Religious Life for the Dominican Sisters in the Thirteenth Century

Dominican choir nuns of Notre Dame

The Dominican vocation sprang from complex historical understandings of the vita apostolica, and the Dominican women’s religio should be approached as part of these same contexts and perceptions.

Skirts and Politics: The Cistercian Monastery of Harvestehude and the Hamburg City Council

Medieval nun with skirt lifted

In 1482, Catharina Arndes lifted up her skirts in front of the archbishop’s chaplain. She was a respectable townswoman from Hamburg, and her action was carried out in defense of the Cistercian monastery of Harvestehude which was close to the city and where several of Catharina’s nieces lived as nuns.

Women’s monasticism in late medieval Bologna, 1200-1500


This dissertation explores the fluid relationship between monastic women and religious orders. I examine the roles of popes and their representatives, governing bodies of religious orders, and the nunneries themselves in outlining the contours of those relationships.

The influence of conflicting medieval church and social discourses on individual consciousness : dissociation in the visions of Hadewijch of Brabant

Beguine - Des dodes dantz, printed in Lübeck in 1489.

This article examines the influence of the conflicting dis- courses in the medieval church and its social context on the subconscious experiences of Hadewijch of Brabant, a 13th century Flemish visionary, mystical author, vernacular theologian and Beguine leader

Amending the Ascetic: Community and Character in the Old English Life of St. Mary of Egypt

Saint Mary of Egypt - British library

Among the most eligible saints for such treatment, Mary of Egypt deserves particular consideration: her popularity is evidenced by over a hundred extant Greek manuscripts of her Life and her uniquely prominent position in the Lenten liturgical cycle in the Eastern Church.

Women, Heresy, and Crusade: Toward a Context for Jacques de Vitry’s Relationship to the Early Beguines


Grundmann‘s search for a founding figure is understandable in light of the problematic nature of Beguine institutional history. Beguine historiography has long struggled with the anomalous lack of clear foundation documents and accounts.

Living la vita apostolica: Life expectancy and mortality of nuns in late-medieval Holland

Medieval Nuns

Living la vita apostolica: Life expectancy and mortality of nuns in late-medieval Holland Jaco Zuijderduijn (Utrecht University ) Centre for Global Economic History: Utrecht University, Working Paper No. 44, June (2013) Abstract Data on vital events of medieval women are extremely scarce. We use a dataset based on a necrology of nuns in late-medieval Holland […]

Medieval Widowhood and Textual Guidance: The Corpus Revisions of Ancrene Wisse and the de Braose Anchoresses

Medieval Nuns

In this article, I shall examine the lives of Loretta and her siblings as templates for the kind of audience imagined by the authors of the Ancrene Wisse Group and, in particular, by the author of Ancrene Wisse as he revised his original text.

Catharism and Heresy in Milan

16th century map of Milan

Evidence suggests that heresy in Lombardy proliferated during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, a period of upheaval in the structure and form of politics and society, especially in itscapital city. From 1117 Milan operated as a commune, securing independent jurisdiction at thePeace of Constance (1183).

BOOK REVIEWS: “The Chalice” by Nancy Bilyeau

The Chalice

My book review of Nancy Bilyeau’s, “The Chalice”.

Queenship, Nunneries and Royal Widowhood in Carolingian Europe

Richilda of Provence

Fulk‟s letter therefore introduces us to some central aspects of Carolingian thinking about the appropriate behaviour of laywomen especially, and serves as a way into the principal themes of this article. In particular, it is noticeable that the archbishop highlighted his expectations of Richildis in two roles: her supposed misdemeanour was concerned specifically with a failure to meet her obligations as a widow and as a queen.

Herb-workers and Heretics: Beguines, Bakhtin and the Basques


During the Middle Ages and early Renaissance, the word beguine was used by women to identify themselves as members of a wide-spread and influential women’s movement. The same term was used by their detractors and overt opponents, with the highly charged negative meaning of “heretic.” The etymology of the term “beguine” and ultimate origins of the movement have never been satisfactorily explained.

Saint Patrick’s Purgatory: a fresco in Todi, Italy

Jacopo di Mino del Pellicciaio's fresco which represents St. Patrick’s Purgatory

This essay deals with the tradition of the revelation of Purgatory to St. Patrick on Station Island in Lough Derg, whose popularity is testified not only in literary texts in the various languages of Medieval Europe but also in a unique work of art in the convent of the Sisters of Saint Clair at Todi, Umbria

A shared imitation: Cistercian convents and crusader families in thirteenth-century Champagne

Cistercian Nuns 2

This article examines the relationship between Cistercian nunneries and the crusade movement and considers the role of gender in light of the new emphasis on penitential piety and suffering prevalent during the thirteenth century.

Elisabeth of Schönau: Visions and Female Intellectual Culture of the High Middle Ages

Elisabeth of Schönau - altar

Elisabeth of Schönau (1128/29-1164/65) was a Rhineland Benedictine who wrote numerous visionary texts. These works addressed local problems in the cloister and community, reform within the Church, and theological questions.

Voices from a Distant Land: Fragments of a Twelfth-Century Nuns’ Letter Collection

Admont abbey - photo from wikimedia commons

In these fragments echo women’s voices speaking of their intersecting spiritual, economic, and personal concerns, voices offering us a rare glimpse both of the lives of Admont’s twelfth-century nuns and of their continuing interaction with the world outside the cloister.

Dead virgins: feminine sanctity in medieval Wales

Saint Non's Chapel-Fenster - St.Winifred

Examines literature on the medieval traditions associated with Welsh holy women. Prerequisites for feminine sanctity; Biographical pattern of the female saints; Implications of the popularity of the Welsh women saints.

Power and Institutional Identity in Renaissance Venice: The Female Convents of S. M. delle Vergini and S. Zaccaria

convent of san zarraria

Even though inmates of convents were the most regulated group in fifteenth and sixteenth-century Europe, canonesses and nuns at these two convents were able to generate and harness multiple sorts of power in a variety of ways.

Behind the Veil: The rise of female monasticism and the double house

Cistercian Nuns

In this thesis I aim to restore the contemporary views of female monasticism that have been marginalized in current historiography. By evaluating the primary source material on women in monasticism, I intend to recapture the complex links between female religious communities and the wider social, cultural and political world of the Frankish kingdoms.

The Transformative Nature of Gender: The Coding of St. Brigit of Kildare through Hagiography

Brigit of Kildare

The Transformative Nature of Gender: The Coding of St. Brigit of Kildare through Hagiography Liliane Catherine Marcil-Johnston Master of Arts, The Department of Theology, Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada December (2012) Abstract This study examines how gender is portrayed in the hagiographic tradition surrounding St. Brigit of Kildare. In particular, it provides an in-depth look […]

Fasting and the female body : from the ascetic to the pathological


Importantly, the dietary practices of the early Christians cannot be understood as a single corpus of ideas or practices. It could mean going without food altogether, as in the case of one of the desert fathers, Simeon Stylites, who ate nothing for the whole of lent.

A Revival of Female Spirituality: Adaptations of Nuns’ Rules during the Hiberno-Frankish Monastic Movement


Before Columbanus, Irish abbots demonstrated little interest in producing monastic rules as we know them from the traditions of Benedict of Nursia and Caesarius of Arles. Preferring instruction by example to any documented tenets, Irish monasticism emphasized the conduct of the founding or ruling abbot or abbess as a model to imitate.

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