Women and Religious Life in Byzantium: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Women and Religious Life in Byzantium

1st Edition

By Alice-Mary Talbot


326 pages

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Hardback: 9780860788737
pub: 2001-08-20
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After an introductory general essay on the life cycle and status of women in Byzantine society, this volume focuses on female religious life, with particular emphasis on the role of convents - as spiritual sanctuary, refuge for women in need, or provider of charitable services. Several essays compare Byzantine nunneries with male monasteries, pointing out the relatively small size and lack of intellectual and artistic activity in convents, and more rigorous rules of enclosure and stability. Such phenomena as double monasteries, the conversion of a monastery to a nunnery, and women's economic and spiritual ties with Mount Athos are also examined. Other articles investigate issues of female sanctity and sanctification, analyzing types of women saints, women during the era of iconoclasm, and the role of the family in promoting the cult of a holy woman. In addition there are studies on healing shrines in Constantinople in the middle Byzantine and Palaiologan periods, and the resurgence of hagiographical writing in the late Byzantine era, particularly the reworking of the vitae of older saints.


'The interest of this very homogenous book rests on the original research.' Revue d’histoire Ecclésiastique

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Women and the Religious Life: Women; Byzantine women, saints’ lives and social welfare; Women and iconoclasm; Women and Mt. Athos; Empress Theodora Palaiologina, wife of Michael VIII; Sanctity and Hagiography: Female sanctity in Byzantium; Family cults in Byzantium: the case of St. Theodora of Thessalonike; The posthumous miracles of St. Photeine; The Byzantine cult of St. Photeine; Old wine in new bottles: the rewriting of saints’ lives in the Palaeologan period; Monasticism: An introduction to Byzantine monasticism; A comparison of the monastic experience of Byzantine men and women; The Byzantine family and the monastery; Healing shrines in late Byzantine Constantinople; Nunneries: Women’s space in Byzantine monasteries; Affirmative action in the 13th c.: an act of John Apokaukos concerning the Blachernitissa Monastery in Arta; Late Byzantine nuns: by choice or necessity?; Bluestocking nuns: intellectual life in the convents of late Byzantium; Indexes.

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at [email protected]

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General