Book Series Brepols Collected Essays in European Culture, vol. 1

Medieval Holy Women in the Christian Tradition c.1100-c.1500

Alastair Minnis, Rosalynn Voaden (eds)

  • Pages: xi + 748 p.
  • Size:156 x 234 mm
  • Illustrations:3 b/w
  • Language(s):English, Latin, French
  • Publication Year:2010

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-53180-9
  • Hardback
  • Available
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-53699-6
  • E-book
  • Available


The first comprehensive survey of the major - but much neglected - contribution made by holy women to the religious culture of the later Middle Ages.


"This long-awaited volume is a monumental achievement in the historiography of women's holiness and spirituality for medieval Western Europe. [...] Never before has such a large group of first-rate scholars compiled such a useful collection of essays on so many medieval women and their religious writings. This book will be an essential starting point fur undergraduate research papers for years to come, but will also provide a perfect orientation for scholars needing to identify manuscripts, primary sources, and secondary bibliography for new projects. [...] Every academic library would do well to add this resource to its shelves."    (Sean L. Field, in H-France Review 11, no. 137, June 2011)

"There is no doubt that this book is a significant achievement in a difficult and complex research field."    (Rob Faesen, in Bijdragen, International Journal in Philosophy and Theology 72/1, 2011, p. 111)

"Medieval Holy Women is an excellent resource for anyone seeking orientation to women's religious activity in medieval Europe, a field of study that has expanded rapidly in the last few decades."    (Jessica Barr, in The Medieval Review 11.10.01) 

"In conclusion, the volume can be read both by scholars and those without an academic interest in the subject; together with the introductory essays, one could well use extracts as background material for a course on medieval holy women." (Eva von Contzen, in: Mediaevistik, vol. 24, 2011, p. 313)


Medieval Holy Women in the Christian Tradition offers the first wide-ranging study of the remarkable women who contributed to the efflorescence of female piety and visionary experience in Europe between 1100 and 1500. This volume offers essays by prominent scholars in the field which extend the boundaries of our previous knowledge and understanding of medieval holy women. While some essays provide new perspectives on the familiar names of the unofficial canon of mulieres sanctae, many others bring into the spotlight women less familiar now, but influential in their own time and richly deserving of scholarly attention. The five general essays establish a context for understanding the issues affecting female religious witness in the later Middle Ages. The geographical arrangement of the volume allows the reader to develop an awareness of the particular cultural and religious forces in seven different regions and to recognize how these influenced the writing and reception of the holy women of that area. Seventeen major figures have essays devoted exclusively to each of them; in addition, the survey chapters on each region introduce the reader to many more. The extensive bibliographies which follow each chapter encourage further reading and study.

Alastair Minnis was Director of the Centre for Medieval Studies and Head of the Department of English at the University of York, and is currently Douglas Tracy Smith Professor of English at Yale University. A Fellow of the Medieval Academy of America and of the English Association, he is the author of six monographs and the editor or co-editor of fifteen further volumes.

Rosalynn Voaden (D.Phil., University of York, UK) is the author of God’s Words, Women’s Voices: The Discernment of Spirits in the Writing of Late-Medieval Women Visionaries, and is the editor or co-editor of several volumes in the field. She was a Research Fellow at St Anne’s College, Oxford, and is currently Associate Professor of English at Arizona State University.




 List of Illustrations

 List of Abbreviations



 Introductory Essays

 Flesh and Spirit: The Female Body - DYAN ELLIOTT

 Religious Roles: Public and Private - ALASTAIR MINNIS

 Women’s Textual Authority and the Collaboration of Clerics - JOHN COAKLEY

 Communal Life: The Sister-books - JOHN VAN ENGEN

 Women and Dissent - PETER BILLER


Part 1: The British Isles

 Holy Women in the British Isles: A Survey - ANNE CLARK BARTLETT

 Julian of Norwich - LIZ HERBERT McAVOY

 Margery Kempe - ANTHONY GOODMAN


Part 2: France

 Holy Women in France: A Survey - RENATE BLUMENFELD-KOSINSKI


 Marguerite Porete - MICHAEL SARGENT


Part 3: The German Territories

 Holy Women in the German Territories: A Survey - ANNEKE MULDER-BAKKER

 Hildegard of Bingen - KATHRYN KERBY-FULTON

 Elisabeth of Schönau - ANNE L. CLARK

 Margaret Ebner - BARBARA KOCH


 Mechtild of Hackeborn - ROSALYNN VOADEN

 Gertrude the Great of Helfta - ALEXANDRA BARRATT AND DEBRA L. STOUDT

 Dorothy of Montau - UTE STARGARDT


Part 4: The Iberian Peninsula

 Iberian Holy Women: A Survey - RONALD SURTZ


Part 5: Italy

 Italian Holy Women: A Survey - E. ANN MATTER

 Agnes of Prague and Guglielma of Milan - BARBARA NEWMAN

 Angela of Foligno - CRISTINA MAZZONI

 Catherine of Siena - SUZANNE NOFFKE


Part 6: The Low Countries

 Holy Women of the Low Countries: A Survey - WALTER SIMONS



Part 7: Scandinavia

 Holy Women of Scandinavia: A Survey - CLAIRE SAHLIN


List of Contributors