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Klosterleben und Gesellschaft: Lebensläufe von Nonnen und Stiftsfrauen in spätmittelalterlichen hessischen Konventen

Monastery Life and Society
[collection article]

Vanja, Christina

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Abstract This article is concerned with the reasons women in the late Middle Ages entered nunneries, with their family background and with their life conditions in the convents. The basis for the study are two Cistercian and one premonstratensian nunnery in Upper Hesse in the period from the 13th to the 16th Century. The main goal is to show a collective biography on the base of prosopographical research. The analysis of the biographies of 250 nuns, foundated on the investigation of the whole sourcematerial of the cloister- and family archives, shows the multifarious aspects of their life: the religious predestination on one side and the very close connections to the secular world on the other side. Especially since the 14th Century the life ofthe nuns began to become very worldy. They had a number of conflicts with Supervisors because of their disregard of the enclosure, their contacts with men, their fashionable cloths and other secular amusements. The study shows their mostly noble birth, the possession of privat property and the family politics, which determined a part of the children for monastic life because of family interests, as some reasons for their wishing to live just as their secular sisters and brothers. On the other hand the life in a nunnery was also - especially for noble women - a positiv and acceptable alternative to marriage because of the possibilities for an education, for forms of selfgovernment and for a chance to attain the only ecclesiastical offices of the Middle Ages opened to women.
Keywords middle ages; convent; woman; life career; living conditions; Hesse
Classification Social History, Historical Social Research
Collection Title Lebenslauf und Gesellschaft : zum Einsatz von kollektiven Biographien in der historischen Sozialforschung
Editor Schröder, Wilhelm Heinz
Document language German
Publication Year 1985
Publisher Klett-Cotta
City Stuttgart
Page/Pages p. 18-27
Series Historisch-Sozialwissenschaftliche Forschungen : quantitative sozialwissenschaftliche Analysen von historischen und prozeß-produzierten Daten, 18
ISSN 0713-2153
ISBN 3-608-91137-5
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Deposit Licence - No Redistribution, No Modifications