From the Cloister to the State : Fontevraud and the Making of Bourbon France, 1642-1100 book cover
1st Edition

From the Cloister to the State
Fontevraud and the Making of Bourbon France, 1642-1100

ISBN 9780367714512
Published September 10, 2021 by Routledge
286 Pages 14 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

From the Cloister to the State examines the French order of Fontevraud, one of the largest monastic networks under female leadership in medieval and early modern Europe.

Founded in 1100 and comprised of both monks and nuns, the order had grown to consist of at least seventy-eight priories by the late Middle Ages. Endowed with vast territorial possessions throughout western France, Fontevraud became one of the most powerful religious institutions in the country. However, unaware of its institutional might and economic wealth, scholars have tended to focus on Fontevraud’s seemingly unusual gender hierarchy, while bypassing inquiries on practices of abbatial authority in Fontevraud and beyond. This book reveals medieval Fontevraud as an aristocratic cloister where noble women governed. It also discusses the value of Fontevraud’s extensive network for the geopolitical ambitions of the dukes of Brittany, the counts of Bourbon-Vendôme, and, during the Wars of Religion, the kings of France. In addition to Fontevraud’s political role during the Wars of Religion, the book also examines the order’s reforms implemented by Marie de Bretagne and her successors Renée and Louise de Bourbon-Vendôme. These Bourbon abbesses centralized the order’s administration, cut the ties between priories and local aristocratic families, and successfully established the Bourbon-Vendômes as the only patrons of the vast and wealthy network.

This book is essential reading for scholars and students of medieval and early modern history, as well as those interested in political history and the history of religion.

Table of Contents


Part I: Re-shaping the Myth

1. 1642 or: The Making of Abbatial Absolutism

2. Robert of Arbrissel Revisited

3. Establishing Fontevraud, c. 1001-1149

Part II: Fontevraud and the Making of Bourbon France

4. From a Monastic Network in Decline to a Geopolitical Asset, c. 1150-1457

5. Religious Geopolitics and Geopolitical Religion - Fontevraud in a Changing World

Part III: Forming and Re-Forming Fontevraud

6. Revising the Rule and Early Reform (1457-1491)

7. Re-Forming Fontevraud (1503-1534)

8. Re-Building Fontevraud


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Annalena Müller holds a Master's degree from the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and a PhD from Yale University. She works at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, where she is the recipient of a Swiss National Science Foundation Ambizione Grant.