Devout Laywomen in the Early Modern World  book cover
1st Edition

Devout Laywomen in the Early Modern World

Edited By

Alison Weber

ISBN 9781472424914
Published March 21, 2016 by Routledge
390 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Devout laywomen raise a number of provocative questions about gender and religion in the early modern world. How did some groups or individuals evade the Tridentine legislation that required third order women to take solemn vows and observe active and passive enclosure? How did their attempts to exercise a female apostolate (albeit with varying degrees of success and assertiveness) destabilize hierarchies of class and gender? To the extent that their beliefs and practices diverged from approved doctrine and rituals, what insights can they provide into the tensions between official religion and lay religiosity? Addressing these and many other questions, Devout Laywomen in the Early Modern World reflects new directions in gender history, offering a more nuanced approach to the paradigm of woman as the prototypical "disciplined" subject of church-state power.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations


A Note on Texts and Translations

Introduction Devout Laywomen in the Early Modern Catholic World: The Historiographic Challenge

Alison Weber

PART I Service

1 Community, Conflict, and Local Authority: The Basque Seroras

Amanda Scott

2 The Company of St. Ursula in Italy in Counter-Reformation Italy 

Querciolo Mazzonis

3 Nursing as a Vocation or a Profession? Women’s Status and the Meaning of Healing in Early Modern France and England

Susan Dinan

Part II Perceptions of Holiness

4 Historicizing the Beatas: The Figures behind Reformation and Counter-Reformation Conflicts

María Laura Giordano

5 Ecco la santa! Printed Italian Biographies of Devout Laywomen, Seventeenth-Eighteenth Centuries

Anne Jacobson Schutte

6 Flying in Formation: Subjectivity and Collectivity in Luisa de Melgarejo de Soto’s Mystical Practices

Stacey Schlau

7 Illuminated Islands: Luisa de los Reyes and the Inquisition in Manila

Jessica Fowler

PART III Confessional Crossings

8 Elastic Institutions: Beguine Communities in Early Modern Germany

Jennifer Kolpacoff Deane

9 Neither Nun nor Laywoman: Entering Lutheran Convents during the Reformation of Female Religious Communities in the Duchy of Braunschweig, 1542-1655

Marjorie Elizabeth Plummer

10 Marina de Saavedra: A Devout Laywomen on a Confessional Frontier (Zamora, 1558-1559)

Doris Moreno Martínez

11 Devout Recusant Women, Advice Manuals, and the Creation of Holy Households "under Siege"

Ellen A. Macek

PART IV Alliances

12 Convent Alternatives for Rich and Poor Girls in Seventeenth-Century Florence: The Lay Conservatories of Eleonora Ramirez di Montalvo (1602-59)

Jennifer Haraguchi

13 Anne Line: Vowed Laywoman, Recusant Martyr, and Elizabethan Saint

Robert E. Scully, S. J.

14 Letters, Books, and Relics: Material and Spiritual Networks in the Life of Luisa de Carvajal y Mendoza (1564-1614)

María J. Pando-Canteli

15 Women Apostles in Early Modern Japan, 1549-1650

Haruko Nawata Ward

16 Jesuit Apologias for Laywomen’s Spirituality

Alison Weber



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Alison Weber is Professor of Spanish with a joint appointment in the Corcoran Department of History at the University of Virginia, USA.


'... a very strong collection of important essays about interesting women who had previously fallen through the cracks of history, brought to light in effective work with riveting primary sources. The range of the content is most impressive, and it is interesting to read not only about the women but the men who hovered over them ... unique and important in the way it prioritizes Spanish religious women in the European context.' Elizabeth Rhodes, Boston College, USA