Creating Cistercian Nuns: The Women's Religious Movement and Its Reform in Thirteenth-Century Champagne by Anne E. LesterCreating Cistercian Nuns: The Women's Religious Movement and Its Reform in Thirteenth-Century Champagne by Anne E. Lester

Creating Cistercian Nuns: The Women's Religious Movement and Its Reform in Thirteenth-Century…

byAnne E. Lester

Hardcover | November 22, 2011

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In Creating Cistercian Nuns, Anne E. Lester addresses a central issue in the history of the medieval church: the role of women in the rise of the religious reform movement of the thirteenth century. Focusing on the county of Champagne in France, Lester reconstructs the history of the women’s religious movement and its institutionalization within the Cistercian order.

The common picture of the early Cistercian order is that it was unreceptive to religious women. Male Cistercian leaders often avoided institutional oversight of communities of nuns, preferring instead to cultivate informal relationships of spiritual advice and guidance with religious women. As a result, scholars believed that women who wished to live a life of service and poverty were more likely to join one of the other reforming orders rather than the Cistercians. As Lester shows, however, this picture is deeply flawed. Between 1220 and 1240 the Cistercian order incorporated small independent communities of religious women in unprecedented numbers. Moreover, the order not only accommodated women but also responded to their interpretations of apostolic piety, even as it defined and determined what constituted Cistercian nuns in terms of dress, privileges, and liturgical practice. Lester reconstructs the lived experiences of these women, integrating their ideals and practices into the broader religious and social developments of the thirteenth century—including the crusade movement, penitential piety, the care of lepers, and the reform agenda of the Fourth Lateran Council. The book closes by addressing the reasons for the subsequent decline of Cistercian convents in the fourteenth century. Based on extensive analysis of unpublished archives, Creating Cistercian Nuns will force scholars to revise their understanding of the women’s religious movement as it unfolded during the thirteenth century.

Anne E. Lester is Associate Professor of History at the University of Colorado Boulder.
Title:Creating Cistercian Nuns: The Women's Religious Movement and Its Reform in Thirteenth-Century…Format:HardcoverDimensions:288 pages, 9.25 × 6.13 × 0.39 inPublished:November 22, 2011Publisher:CORNELL UNIVERSITY PRESSLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0801449898

ISBN - 13:9780801449895

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
On Currencies, Names, and Transcriptions
List of Abbreviations and Short Titles

Introduction: Written Fragments and Living Parts
1. Concerning Certain Women: The Women's Religious Movement in Champagne
2. Cities of Refuge: The Social World of Religious Women
3. Under the Religious Life: Reform and the Cistercian Order
4. The Bonds of Charity: The Special Cares of Cistercian Nuns
5. One and the Same Passion: Convents and Crusaders
6. A Space Apart: Gender and Administration in a New Social Landscape
Epilogue: A Deplorable and Dangerous State: Crisis, Consolidation, and Collapse

Appendix: Cistercian Convents and Domus-Dei of Champagne


Editorial Reviews

"Anne E. Lester illuminates the lived world of thirteenth-century Cistercian nuns by portraying the establishment of women's houses in Champagne as the institutionalization of a local movement of female piety. By exploring the vexed problem of Cistercian women, Creating Cistercian Nuns enhances our understanding of the Cistercian order, the social history of Champagne, and movements of religious women." - Martha G. Newman, University of Texas at Austin