Equal in Monastic Profession: Religious Women in Medieval France (Women in Culture and Society)
Penelope D. Johnson
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Johnson researched more than two dozen nunneries in northern France from the eleventh century through the thirteenth century, balancing a qualitative reading of medieval monastic documents with a quantitative analysis of a lengthy thirteenth-century visitation record which allows an important comparison of nuns and monks. A fascinating look at the world of medieval spirituality, this work enriches our understanding of women's role in premodern Europe and in church history.
mother's dOWry.131 She contested this gift, probably because it affected her income, and a settlement was effected between her and Abbess Petronilla. Falgeria kept usufruct of Villa Fole~ during her lifetime, and legal responsibility for hearing cases and collecting fines was rigorously apportioned between her and the abbey. After Falgeria's death the whole property was to go free and clear to the nuns. Charters can be irritatingly vague about human relationships, as is this one; I would like to
function as chaste role models for their flock. Eudes noted in 1259 that the prioress was "under suspicion" owing to her intimacy with Richard of Maucomble, who ate and even slept at the priory on occasion. 36 A year later this prioress was forced to retire because of ill health, and Joan Morcent was elected with Eudes's approval. 37 After a few years, however, the new prioress was cautioned for her intimacy with the priest of I/Hortier, with whom she was accused of having clandestine meetings.
chastity, the characte.r of their sexual activity was different from that of nuns in two ways. Most notably, engaging in gay sex was perceived as a sexual offense committed by male but not female monastics, although various councils, like that of Paris in 1212, did show some anxiety by legislating that nuns should not sllare a bed. 69 The Register contains two clear-cut cases and one possible case of gay monks recorded by Eudes. 70 In contrast, whatever the possible lesbianism of the Norman nuns,
iniunximus eis ut psallerent saltem cum bassa nota" (RV, p. 114). 97. ER, p. 227; RV, p. 208. 98. Anne YardleYJ "Ful Weel She Soong the Service Dyvyne": The Cloistered Musician in the Middle Ages," in Women Making Music: The Western Art Tradition, 1150-1950, ed. Jane Bowers and Judith Tick (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1986), p. 17. Yardley suggests that nuns received a musical education inferior to that of monks. Her evidence seems primarily to be later English examples, which waters
STRUCTURE with more than half the convent. It is no surprise that when this same pope installed his house of canons in Troyes, cheek by jowl with the convent, the nuns of Notre-Dame bristled at their rivals and led raiding parties on the canons' buildings. Some superiors died in office, some resigned owing to ill health, and others were removed by pressure when they became incompetent. When a beloved head died, it could be a devastating blow to the residents of a monastery. An even broader