Religious Life for Women c.1100-c.1350
Fontevraud in England
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Publisher: Oxford University Press
Number of Pages: 320
Width: 14.4 cm
Height: 22.5 cm
This is the first detailed scholarly study of the Order of Fontevraud's English monastic houses. During the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the Order was notably prestigious and autonomous, renowned both for the prayerfulness of its members and for their independent management of their affairs. The huge following of Robert Arbrissel (d. 1116) included many women - not at first the aristocrats who later dominated the Order of Fontevraud, but prostitutes, beggars, and other representatives of the dregs of society. Urged by Church authorities to stabilize his women followers, Robert gave them a Rule which was, in essentials, that of St Benedict, but he introduced men as chaplains, clerks, and lay-brothers for the nuns. Uniquely, however, for contemporary houses for women, the men were placed firmly under the direction of the nuns and remained there throughout the Order's history. Sister Berenice Kerr's study of Fontevraud's English establishments: Amesbury, Nuneaton, and Westwood (Grovebury, the Order's fourth foundation, was never more than administrative centre) opens up a wide range of insights and information about monasticism and religious life for women in the middle ages. Dr Kerr examines the endowment of each house, and its subsequent acquisition of property and its administration; monastic observance; domestic economy, including expenditure on food and drink; the scale and layout of conventual buildings, and the exploitation of new assets, such as salt-pans, markets, and appropriated churches.
charters and other estate documents are analysed with exemplary efficiency in an attempt to prove that the nuns were highly competent and even enterprising in the consolidation and exploitation of their resources. Ann J. Kettle, University of St Andrews, Journal of Ecclesiastical History 51/4 this is a useful addition to studies of the monastic economy. As well as a massive, 20-page bibliography there is a valuable appendix which lists all known inmates of the three foundations. Ann J. Kettle, University of St Andrews, Journal of Ecclesiastical History 51/4 an interesting and scholarly book. Sally Thompson, EHR Sept. 00. Vol.115, No. 463.