Female Monastic Life in Early Tudor England: With an Edition of Richard Fox's Translation of the Benedictine Rule for Women, 1517, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Female Monastic Life in Early Tudor England

With an Edition of Richard Fox's Translation of the Benedictine Rule for Women, 1517, 1st Edition

Edited by Barry Collett


192 pages

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Hardback: 9781840146097
pub: 2002-03-25
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This gendered translation of the Benedictine Rule for women in 1517 is also a handbook for women on exercising authority, management skills and the art of good governance, including monastic property and relations with the outside world. Barry Collett here provides a modern facsimile edition of Fox's translation, written in the tumbling phrases of passionate prose that make Fox stand out as a literary figure of the English Renaissance. Collett also provides an extensive introduction that argues that Fox's experience as an administrator and senior political adviser with special responsibility for foreign affairs, mainly with Scotland and France, the political situation in 1516, and social concerns Fox shared with Thomas More, all provide keys to understanding this translation of the rule. Richard Fox was king's secretary, Lord Privy Seal and Bishop of Winchester, and founder of Corpus Christi College in Oxford. He was an administrator who reflected much on the proper exercise of authority and responsibility at all levels, especially through negotiated co-operation. He strongly supported monastic reforms, and when a group of abbesses requested a translation for sisters unable to understand Latin, this was his response. It provides a unique window into the world of female spirituality just a few months before Luther's reformation began. The exercise of God-given authority by women is described in the same-possibly stronger-terms as for men. Fox expressed no reservations about the exercise of authority by women. His indifference to sexual distinctions arose, paradoxically, from his preoccupation with the skilful use of God-given functioning of authority in a hierarchical society.


'The introductory essay provides a vivid account of some of the last abbesses and prioresses drawn mainly from episcopal and archiepiscopal visitation records.' Journal of Ecclesiastical History 'Collett's affection for Fox and his translation make this book a valuable contribution to the study of early modern English nuns.' The Catholic Historical Review

Table of Contents

Contents: English society and Here begynneth: the question of good govermamce in 1516; The monastic life and Here begynneth: the ambivalence of the monastic vocation; Making the translation during autumn and winter of 1516: Here begynneth and the early modern Englishwoman; Three Epilogues: Fox, the nuns, and the book; editorial notes: Here begynneth the rule of seynt Benet: Richard Fox's translation of the Benedictine rule for Women, 1517; Bibliography; Index.

About the Series

The Early Modern Englishwoman, 1500-1750: Contemporary Editions

The Early Modern Englishwoman, 1500-1750: Contemporary Editions
Designed to complement The Early Modern Englishwoman: A Facsimile Library of Essential Works, Contemporary Editions presents both modernized and old-spelling editions of texts not only by women but also for and about women. Contents of a volume can range from a single text to an anthology depending on the subject and the audience. Introductions to the editions are written with the general reader as well as the specialist in mind. They are designed to provide an introduction not only to the edited text itself but also to the larger historical discourses expressed through the text.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / Comparative Literature