Ordering Women's Lives: Penitentials and Nunnery Rules in the Early Medieval West
This book takes an innovative approach to the study of the penitentials and nunnery rules and the ways in which these texts impinged upon the lives of female audiences. The study emphasises the importance of the texts for the promotion of Christian values and of the expectations of churchmen in the construction of appropriate Christian behaviour for women in the early medieval West. These texts constitute the only written works which would have had direct influence upon the lives of lay and religious women. The work focuses upon the elements of the penitentials which provided female-specific expectations, and these fall largely into two categories of sexuality and pre-Christian practices. The nunnery rules seldom provided comprehensive sets of behavioural expectations. Rather, rules emphasised expectations relating to issues of enclosure, work and abstinence which came to be perceived as the defining characteristics of religious women.
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