Monday, June 30, 2008

Nuns on the run

No writing today. I did, however, make progress in working through the stack of books I've checked out. Today I finished F. Donald Logan's Runaway Religious in Medieval England, c. 1240-1540. This book deals with the interesting phenomenon of religious who ran away from their monasteries, well documented in England because monastic superiors could get writs from the crown to go arrest the runaways and return them by force. The book is packed with interesting anecdotes, plus descriptions of the procedures involved and numbers of runaways.

Nuns were a pretty small portion of the documented runaways; a lot more were monks, canons, and friars. Sometimes nuns ran off with lovers; just as often they left their monasteries to attempt to claim inheritances. One of the things I really appreciated about this book is that nuns are fully represented in it. Many books about medieval monasticism treat nuns in a very cursory way, or leave them out entirely; Logan gives special attention to issues unique to nuns (pregnancy, for instance), but otherwise subjects them to the same analysis as monks. It's a pleasure to see such an evenhanded approach.

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