Synopses & Reviews
In 1993, the doyenne of women's history, Gerda Lerner, described the creation of feminist consciousness in Europe as beginning at least as early as the seventh century. She insisted that "women's resistance to patriarchal ideas" and "feminist oppositional thought" had a very long history indeed (The Creation of Feminist Consciousness). Lerner was particularly interested in the women's and mixed-sex communities that flourished during the seventh and eighth centuries, but was unable to provide details for the content of their "feminist consciousness," because no specialized studies existed to help her peer into the inner workings of the communities. Religious Women in Early Carolingian Francia provides those details, alongside many other glimpses into the intellectual and monastic culture of the time, based on intensive study of a group of eighth-century manuscripts associated with some of the best known personalities of the European Middle Ages, including bishop Boniface of Mainz and his "beloved," abbess Leoba of Tauberbischofsheim. This is the first study of these "Anglo-Saxon missionaries to Germany" to delve into the details of their intellectual and cultural lives by studying the manuscripts that were produced in their scriptoria and used in their communities. A focus on the books associated with their women's monasteries reveals that what Rosemary Radford Reuther, a leading feminist theologian and historian of Christianity, wrote of later women such as Hildegard of Bingen and Mechthild of Magdeburg can also be said of the religious women of eighth-century Francia: "they reshaped the gender symbolism of [Christian] spiritualities in a way that clearly made them agents of their own lives... as well as... pastoral teachers for their communities, who valued them and carefully preserved their teachings for us to read today. This is surely some part of feminism" (Goddesses and the Divine Feminine, 2005).
Religious Women in Early Carolingian Francia
, a groundbreaking study of the intellectual and monastic culture of the Main Valley during the eighth century, looks closely at a group of manuscripts associated with some of the best-known personalities of the European Middle Ages, including Boniface of Mainz and his "beloved,"abbess Leoba of Tauberbischofsheim. This is the first study of these "Anglo-Saxon missionaries to Germany" to delve into the details of their lives by studying the manuscripts that were produced in their scriptoria and used in their communities. The author explores how one group of religious women helped to shape the culture of medieval Europe through the texts they wrote and copied, as well as through their editorial interventions.
Using compelling manuscript evidence, she argues that the content of the women's books was overwhelmingly gender-egalitarian and frequently feminist (i.e., resistant to patriarchal ideas). This intriguing book provides unprecedented glimpses into the "feminist consciousness" of the women's and mixed-sex communities that flourished in the early Middle Ages.
About the Author
is Professor of Women's Studies and Religious Studies at University of Alberta. She is the author of The Name of the Saint: The Martyrology of Jerome and Access to the Sacred in Francia (627-827)
(University of Notre Dame Press, 2005) and The Norman Conquest of Pious Neustria: Historiographic Discourse and Saintly Relics (684 -1090)
(Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies Press, 1995)
Table of Contents
List of Color Plates
List of Abbreviations
Preface: Medieval Feminism
Part I: Introductions: People, Places, Things
1. Syneisactism and Reform: Gender Relations in the Anglo-Saxon Cultural Province in Francia
2. The Monastic Landscape of the Anglo-Saxon Cultural Province in Francia
3. The Gun(t)za and Abirhilt Manuscripts: Women and their Books in the Anglo-Saxon Cultural Province in Francia
Part II: Textual Analysis
4. "I am Crucified in Christ" (Galatians 2:20): The Kitzingen Crucifixion Miniature and Visions of the Apostle Paul
5. "We Interpret Spiritual Truths to People Possessed of the Spirit" (1 Cor. 2:13): Studying the Bible with the Fathers of the Church
6. "The Sensual Man does not Perceive those Things that are of the Spirit of God" (1 Cor. 2:14): History and Theology in the Stories of the Saints"
7. "An Eternal Weight of Glory" (2 Cor. 4: 17): Discipline and Devotion in Monastic Life
Part III: Conclusions
8. "Now Concerning Virgins, I Have No Commandment of the Lord" (1 Cor. 7:25): Consecrated Women and Altar Service in the Anglo-Saxon Cultural Province in Francia
9. "Through a Glass Darkly" (1 Cor. 13:12): Textual Transmission and Historical Representation as Feminist Strategies in Early Medieval Europe
Bibliography: Manuscripts and Printed Materials