Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 8195
  • Author(s)/Creator(s): Stafford , Pauline.
  • Contributor(s):
  • Title: Queens, Nunneries, and Reforming Churchmen: Gender, Religious Status, and Reform in Tenth- and Eleventh-Century England
  • Source URL: Past and Present (Full Text via JSTOR) 163 (May 1999): 3-35. Link Info. Reprinted in Gender, Family and the Legitimation of Power: England from the Ninth to Early Twelfth Century. By Pauline Stafford. Ashgate Variorum, 2006. Article XI. target = '_blank'>Past and Present (Full Text via JSTOR) 163 (May 1999): 3-35. Link Info. Reprinted in Gender, Family and the Legitimation of Power: England from the Ninth to Early Twelfth Century. By Pauline Stafford. Ashgate Variorum, 2006. Article XI.
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Journal Article
  • Subject (See Also): Ælfthryth, Wife of Edgar, King of England Ecclesiastical Reform Gender Monasticism Monks Queens Women in Religion
  • Geographic Area: British Isles
  • Century: 10-11
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  • Abstract: The paper deals with a period of ecclesiastical reform in England, the tenth and eleventh centuries, and with the implications of this for two groups of women, queens and nuns. Queens and nunneries were themselves connected via personnel, and royal control of and involvement in religious houses. 'Reform' is seen as significant for gender definition, concerned as it was with purity [and thus the definition of women as impure] and also with monastcism as an ideal [and thus with virginity and its more complex possibilities of freedom and regendering of women]. It was undertaken with royal backing, which drew reformers into close relations with king and queen at the same time as their control of religious houses became problematic for a reform movement which defined lay control as unacceptable. The royalty of the queen was thus stressed, and the reform movement played its part in promoting the status of English queens. At the same time reform in the short term offered to some women the positive aspects of virginity, possibilities seized upon especially by the larger female houses, which used it in some cases to move towards greater autonomy vis a vis the queen. Stress is laid, however, on the historical specificity of such relations between queen and religious houses, and the extent to which they were played out not merely in the context of reform but also in that of royal family politics. The paper urges that blanket generalisations about the impact of 'reform' on 'women' should be nuanced by an appreciation of the different messages of reform, the different stages of its unfolding and the different groups of women on whom it impacted. [Abstract submitted by the author to the Medieval Feminist Index.]
  • Author's Affiliation: University of Liverpool
  • Conference Info: - , -
  • Year of Publication: 1999.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: 00312746
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