Book Series Medieval History (Outside a Series)

Dismantling the Medieval

Early Modern Perceptions of a Female Convent's Past

Steven Vanderputten

  • Pages: 247 p.
  • Size:156 x 234 mm
  • Illustrations:1 b/w, 14 col., 2 tables col.
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2021

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-59347-0
  • Paperback
  • Available
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-59348-7
  • E-book
  • Available

Dismantling the Medieval studies the paradoxical relationship of the early modern canonesses of Bouxières abbey with their medieval past.


Steven Vanderputten is an ordinary full professor in the history of the early and high Middle Ages at Ghent University. He specializes in the study of the culture and societal embedding of religious communities, with a particular focus on memory culture, leadership, and reform. His monographs include Monastic Reform as Process (2013), Dark Age Nunneries (2018) and Medieval Monasticisms (2020). Recently he has extended his research into the early modern period, looking at long-term trends in the perception of the medieval past.


Dismantling the Medieval studies the paradoxical relationship of the early modern canonesses of Bouxières with the medieval past of their institution. While various documentary, material, spatial, and immaterial legacies of that past remained a crucial presence in the convent’s narrative of self, the canonesses also used and manipulated them to pursue and justify drastic changes in their organization and lifestyle. Thanks to an unusually rich and varied body of evidence, we are able to reconstruct in unprecedented detail this elite convent’s highly flexible memory culture over a period of more than two centuries. Guiding the reader back through time, the book gradually reveals how and why the canonesses’ connection to the medieval past lived on throughout many crises and transformations, including even the abbey’s dissolution in 1971.


List of illustrations
List of tables
Chapter 1: 1833 A Gift for an Emperor
Chapter 2: 1801 St Gozelin's (Im)mortal Remains
Chapter 3: 1784 The Death of a Medieval Convent
Chapter 4: 1766 Retooling Religious Space and Identities
Chapter 5: 1692 Old and New Memories of Origins
Index of people and places

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