Women, Enlightenment and Catholicism : A Transnational Biographical History book cover
1st Edition

Women, Enlightenment and Catholicism
A Transnational Biographical History

Edited By

Ulrich L. Lehner

ISBN 9781138687639
Published November 24, 2017 by Routledge
248 Pages

FREE Standard Shipping
SAVE $9.39
was $46.95
USD $37.56

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

Women, Enlightenment and Catholicism explores, for the first time, the uncharted territory of women’s religious Enlightenment. Each chapter offers a biographical insight into the social and cultural context of female Enlighteners and how Catholic women in Europe used the thought and values of Enlightenment to articulate their beliefs about how to live their faith in the world.

The collection of portraits within this book offers a closer look into the new understanding of womanhood that emerged from Enlightenment culture and was conceived independently from marital relationships. They also highlight the distinctive contributions that women made to political and religious philosophy, spirituality and mysticism, and the efforts to bring scientific knowledge to the attention of other women.

Guiding readers through the complex religious, intellectual and global connections influenced by the Enlightenment, Women, Enlightenment and Catholicism brings the achievements of Enlightenment women to the foreground and restores them to their rightful place in intellectual history. It is ideal reading for scholars and students of Enlightenment history, early modern religion and early modern women’s history.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Piety and popularity: the life and works of Félicité de Genlis (1746–1830)

Carolina Armenteros

Chapter 2: Marie Leprince de Beaumont (1711–1780): A popular religious pedagogue

Alicia C. Montoya

Chapter 3: Adélaïde d’Orléans (1698–1743): the Abbess of Chelles

Therese Taylor

Chapter 4: Josefa Amar y Borbón (1749–1833): an intellectual woman

Mónica Bolufer

Chapter 5: María Gertrudis Hore (1742–1801): the neoclassic poetry and Enlightenment thought of a cloistered Spanish nun

Elizabeth Franklin Lewis

Chapter 6: María Lorenza de los Ríos y Loyo, Marquesa de Fuerte-Híjar: women’s writing and dharity in the Spanish Enlightenment

Catherine M. Jaffe

Chapter 7: Teresa de Mello Breyner, Countess of Vimieiro (1739–1798?)

Raquel Bello and Elias Torres

Chapter 8: Faith, science and the modern body: Anna Morandi's studies of human anatomy in wax

Rebecca Messbarger

Chapter 9: The scientist and the saint: Laura Bassi’s Enlightened Catholicism

Paula Findlen

Chapter 10: Maria Eleonora Sporck (1687−1717) and Anna Katharina Swéerts-Sporck (1689−1754):

practitioners and promoters of the word at the edge of the Enlightenment

Veronika Čapská

Chapter 11: Between nation and universe: Caroline Pichler’s (1769–1843) Catholicism

Anke Gilleir

Chapter 12: Faith, education, renewal: Amalia von Gallitzin (1748–1806)

Andreas Oberdorf

Chapter 13: Maria Kunigunde of Saxony (1740–1826): abbess, princess and industrial pioneer in the Free Secular Women’s College in Essen

Ute Kueppers-Braun

Chapter 14: Between revolutionary Jacobins and English Catholic Cisalpines: the roles of Elizabeth Inchbald (1753–1821) in the age of Enlightenment

Michael Tomko

Chapter 15: Fénelonian reform, Catholic Jacobites and Jane Barker’s Enlightenment dramas of conscience

Anna Battigelli

Chapter 16: Izabela Czartoryska and Catholic devotion in the eighteenth-century Polish garden

Agnieszka Whelan

View More



Ulrich L. Lehner is William K. Warren Professor at the University of Notre Dame. A member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts, he has received awards and fellowships from the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study, the Notre Dame Institute of Advanced Study, the Earhart Foundation, the German Humboldt Foundation and the Carl Friedrich von Siemens Foundation. He is the award-winning author of several scholarly works on early modern and modern history of religion.


"This path-breaking book explores an original subject: female agency in Enlightenment Catholicism. It shows how the Enlightenment, the history of women and gender, and religious history – subjects which have often been studied in isolation from one another – can be combined to give new insights into the intellectual ferment that took place in the eighteenth century. A team of international historians explores the ways in which individual women in Europe responded to the need to reconcile Enlightenment ideas with their Catholic faith."

Marisa Linton, Kingston University, UK

"While scholarship both on the Catholic Enlightenment and on women and gender in the eighteenth century has flourished in recent years, the two have rarely been integrated – until now. This lively set of essays from a first-rate group of scholars depicts an array of remarkable women whose intellectual pursuits defied conventional gender expectations, provoking us to rethink the nature of Enlightenment Catholicism and female agency within it. This is a trailblazing volume bound to captivate anyone interested in gender and religion at the threshold of the modern world."

Eric Carlsson, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA