Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 9013
  • Author(s)/Creator(s): Rollo-Koster , Joëlle.
  • Contributor(s):
  • Title: From Prostitutes to Brides of Christ: The Avignonese "Repenties" in the Late Middle Ages
  • Source URL: Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (Full Text via Project Muse) 32, 1 (Winter 2002): 109-144. Link Info target = '_blank'>Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (Full Text via Project Muse) 32, 1 (Winter 2002): 109-144. Link Info
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Journal Article
  • Subject (See Also): Avignon, Vaucluse, France- Monastic House of Repentant Prostitutes Mary Magdalene, Saint Monasticism Repentance Women in Religion
  • Award Note:
  • Geographic Area: France
  • Century: 13- 14- 15
  • Primary Evidence:
  • Illustrations: One map. Figure One Map of Avignon showing the properties which were under the direct control of the house of repentant prostitutes.
  • Table:
  • Abstract: This paper investigates rival cultural appropriations in late medieval Avignon. On the one hand, it argues that men tried to appropriate and control female sexuality through various channels: the institutionalization of prostitution; the remedying of prostitution through charity; the reform of prostitutes through the establishment of "Repenties" Houses (convents for repentant prostitutes), and the development of the female penitential hagiographic model of Mary Magdalene. On the other hand, this paper also contends that women manipulated this process for during the late Middle Ages, the "Repenties" appropriated conventual life as they organized their house according to monastic rules. They successfully assimilated spiritual models of feminine penance that circulated in the late Middle Ages; and they fostered their temporals (worldly goods and properties) as nuns from regular orders did. Evidence of this cultural competition is seen very clearly in the spatial tug-of-war that took place between the founders of the Avignonese "Repenties" and the "Repenties" themselves. Even though the "Repenties'" convent was marginalized on the city’s southern boundaries, the nuns’ presence through real-estate endowments and acquisitions was felt in the heart of the city. Their success in embracing conventual rules and culture and their spatial arrogation of the city’s center illustrate how appropriation itself shaped the history of the Avignonese "Repenties." [Abstract submitted to Feminae by the author.]
  • Author's Affiliation: University of Rhode Island
  • Conference Info: - , -
  • Year of Publication: 2002.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: 10829636
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