Contemplative communities: English Catholic convents in France and the low countries, 1598-1700

Claire Walker

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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    Abstract

    [Truncated] This thesis focuses upon the English convents established on the Continent, largely in the Spanish Netherlands and in France, in the seventeenth century. Given the wealth of archival and printed material relating to the English nuns, such an analysis of the role played by these women in maintaining and promoting Catholic belief and practice is long overdue. Locating the nuns within both the Counter-Reformation Church and the English Catholic community, I examine their experiences as women seeking to restore Catholicism in their homeland.
    Several critical issues are addressed in chapters which range from a demographic profile of the women and their backgrounds through to explorations of monastic government, work and spirituality. One of m y principal arguments is that neither exile on the continent nor strict enclosure isolated the nuns from the political, social and economic fabric of seventeenth-century English society. They were recruited largely from English gentry families and, when they entered the cloister, they brought with them the religious and cultural norms of their social rank, together with the political allegiances of their families back in England. This even extended to the adaptation of secular family structures of authority to the institutional imperatives of the convent. Thus I conclude that the cloister provides a microcosm of seventeenth-century English society.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • The University of Western Australia
    DOIs
    Publication statusUnpublished - 1995

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