Anglo-Saxon Women and the Church: Sharing a Common Fate by Stephanie Hollis

By Stephanie Hollis

This research of literature via clerics who have been writing to, for, or approximately Anglo-Saxon girls within the eighth and early ninth centuries means that the placement of ladies had already declined sharply prior to the Conquest a declare at variance with the conventional scholarly view. Stephanie Hollis argues that Pope Gregory's letter to Augustine and Theodore's Penitential implicitly exhibit the early church's view of ladies as subordinate to males, and continues that a lot early church writing displays conceptions of womanhood that had hardened into proven normal through the later heart a while.
To aid her argument the writer examines the indigenous place of girls sooner than the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity, and considers purposes for the early church's concessions in appreciate of ladies. Emblematic of advancements within the conversion interval, the institution and eventual suppression of abbess-ruled double monasteries types a unique concentration of this examine.

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But before I outline the following chapters' development of that point, a brief indication of my indebtedness to some other studies of Anglo-Saxon women may be of use. Over the last three decades or so, studies of women in the middle ages (mostly concentrating on the period 12001500) have tended, overwhelmingly, to hold churchmen and their teachings responsible for the depressed position of medieval women. Few would now venture to argue that the church improved the lot of women. "2 Dorothy Stenton was not the first to have been struck by the contrast between "masterful and independent Anglo-Saxon ladies" and the "legally dependent but still masterful" women of the 12th and 13th centuries.

M. Stenton, The English Woman in History (London, 1957), p. 28. That the legal position of Anglo-Saxon women compared favourably with their Anglo-Norman counterparts had been argued by F. Buckstaff, "Married Women's Property in Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Norman Law and the Origin of the Common Law Dower," Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 4 (1893), 23364. Studies observing the relative legal independence of Anglo-Saxon women which appeared prior to Dorothy Stenton's include: E.

Literary surveys which confine themselves to vernacular poetic representations, especially those which have appeared since 1975, are generally more apt to give a less favourable impression of the position of Anglo-Saxon women than do historical studies: see esp. A. Renoir, "A Reading Context for The Wife's Lament," in Anglo-Saxon Poetry: Essays in Appreciation for John C. McGalliard, ed. E. W. Frese (Notre Dame, 1975), pp. T. W. L. Klinck, "Female Characterization in Old English Poetry and the Growth of Psychological Realism: Genesis B and Christ I," Neophilologus 63 (1979), 597610.

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