Wemple, Suzanne Fonay. The Search for Spiritual Perfection and Freedom in Women in Frankish Society: Marriage and the Cloister, 500 to 900

[In Search of Spiritual Perfection from Suzanne Wemple's Women in Frankish Society .]

Historians have singled out celibacy as the source of misogyny, which led to the isolation of women and the curtailment of their activity in the church. At the other end of the spectrum, some surveys either make short shrift of women's contributions to monasticism or treat women religious and their communities as imitators of and parasites upon monks.'.

The purpose of this chapter is to present a more balanced analysis of feminine monasticism in the Frankish Kingdom from the sixth to the ninth century. It will not attempt to trace systematically the history of feminine institutions, which would require a separate monograph. Rather, it will examine the social circumstances and the psychological attitudes that prompted women to eschew marriage and seek a contemplative life. The extension of legal rights to married women in the Carolingian period, which was paralleled by restrictions not only on opportunities for women to engage in God's service but also on their activities in the monasteries, is particularly relevant. One must inquire whether this policy was inspired by organizational concerns or by the ideal of asceticism. A comparison with the attitudes of the Irish and Anglo Saxon missionaries toward women religious should clarify the Frankish bishops' motives. Finally, this chapter will address the question of whether or not convents lost their appeal when feminine monasticism became closely supervised and strictly regimented by the Carolingian hierarchy.


The pursuit of spiritual perfection through monasticism was the one area of religious life open to women after the female diaconate was abolished and the status of priest's wife degraded in the sixth century. Feminine monasticism originated in early Christianity and, like its masculine counterpart, developed into a movement with the official recognition of the church. Monasticism (from the Greek verb monazein "to be alone") was not an option that women could pursue in antiquity. Except for a few prophetesses or priestesses, women in ancient societies were expected to marry, bear and raise children, and look after the household. Contemplation, a reflective mode of existence, was an essential aspect of monasticism and the direct opposite of the active life, the life of service required of women as wives and mothers.

Christianity initiated a new era not only in the history of monasticism but also in the history of feminism. Accepted as fully equal to men in their spiritual potential, Christian women could transcend biological and sexual roles and seek fulfillment in religious life. The description of Jesus' visit to the house of the two sisters, Martha and Mary, proclaimed this revolutionary doctrine (Luke 10:38‑42). While Martha busied herself with serving the guests, Mary "sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching." Annoyed with her sister and also with Jesus, Martha spoke up: "Lord, do you not care that my sister left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me." But the Lord answered her: "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken from her."

Women were among the hermits who appeared in the desert beginning in the second century. The earliest monasteries included communities of women engaged in prayer and contemplation. In the fourth century, the women in Jerome's circle took the initiative in establishing the first monastic communities in the West. As the church developed a male‑dominated hierarchy, monasticism offered a special appeal to women, for it permitted them to retain a degree of influence in the church and participate actively in the service and worship of God. That monasticism served as a liberating force in the lives of women has not been adequately understood or sufficiently emphasized. From Andreas Capellanus' Art of Courtly Love to Diderot's Nun, men have written about the fraudulent and pathological aspects of women's monastic experience. Historians have singled out celibacy as the source of misogyny, which led to the isolation of women and the curtailment of their activity in the church. At the other end of the spectrum, some surveys either make short shrift of women's contributions to monasticism or treat women religious and their communities as imitators of and parasites upon monks.'

The purpose of this chapter is to present a more balanced analysis of feminine monasticism in the Frankish Kingdom from the sixth to the ninth century. It will not attempt to trace systematically the history of feminine institutions, which would require a separate monograph.2 Rather, it will examine the social circumstances and the psychological attitudes that prompted women to eschew marriage and seek a contemplative life. The extension of legal rights to married women in the Carolingian period, which was paralleled by restrictions not only on opportunities for women to engage in God's service but also on their activities in the monasteries, is particularly relevant. One must inquire whether this policy was inspired by organizational concerns or by the ideal of asceticism. A comparison with the attitudes of the Irish and Anglo‑Saxon missionaries toward women religious should clarify the Frankish bishops' motives. Finally, this chapter will address the question of whether or not convents lost their appeal when feminine monasticism became closely supervised and strictly regimented by the Carolingian hierarchy.




Lacking autobiographies, we must turn to eulogies of feminine chastity, biographies, and chronicles to gain an understanding of the motives that led Merovingian and Carolingian women to embrace the religious life. Although hagiographies often distort facts about the lives of their protagonists by copying indiscriminately from earlier sources, even the most unreliable ones reflect ideals and, to some extent, the prevalent behavior at the time of their composition.

The most eloquent and perhaps the most sensitive expression of sixth‑century perceptions of the advantages of virginity and sexual continence for women was formulated by Venantius Fortunatus. His long poem dedicated to Agnes, abbess of the monastery of Holy Cross at Poitiers, not only spoke of the heavenly rewards awaiting the virgins who chose Christ as their bridegroom but also depicted in vivid metaphors the tribulations of married women. Fortunatus did not shrink from describing the temptations of sexual intercourse, stressing that salvation hangs on a thin thread when, with the panting of the breath and the heaving of the body, the womb swells with excitement and the serpent of voluptuousness grows. Nor did he mince words in enumerating the pains of childbirth, the mother's sorrow when her child is born dead, or when she sees her infant die on her breast, and, finally, the insecurity and desolation of widowhood.3

Fortunatus had a better understanding of feminine psychology than the Western fathers. Although he used Ambrose for his description of the discomforts of women in intercourse, childbearing, breast‑feeding, and nurturing,4 he also probed beyond the mere physical aspects of women's experience. Writing at a time when the wishes of women were of little consequence, Fortunatus took pains to describe the feelings of women. His insight into a woman's inner life undoubtedly came from his close friendship with Saint Radegund and her nuns at Poitiers. In explaining what prompted women to wrench themselves free from sex roles and to embrace monastic life, he pointed with great sensitivity to the traumas of marriage and childbirth, and of a child's or a husband's death.

Merovingian chronicles and saints' lives confirm Fortunatus' observations. They tell us about women such as Saint Monegund, who took a religious vow after the death of her children,5 or Saint Rictrud, who renounced secular life when her brothers murdered the man whom she had married against their wishes.6 They provide case histories of widows who, like Itta, acquiesced to their daughters' request to build convents to which they withdrew with their daughters.7 "Freed of the law of her husband," the wealthy widow Eustadiola constructed a nunnery for herself and her maidservants, according to her biographer.8 Another seventh‑century matron, Sigolena of Albi, offered her husband all her worldly goods in order to "gain the freedom of her body," and would have lived with him happily ever after in chaste marriage. When his unexpected death ended this convenient arrangement, the young widow, only twenty‑four years old, had considerable difficulty in convincing her parents that she did not wish to remarry, but she ultimately persuaded her elderly father to build a convent for her.9

The sexual double standard to which married women were subjected and the fear of childbearing probably influenced the decision of widows to avoid remarriage, and prompted the attempts of married women to seek release from the marriage. Saint Radegund (ca. 5I8-587) had an even more dramatic motivation. First captured as war booty and then won in a judicial contest by her polygamous husband, Radegund decided to leave Clothar I when she learned that he had ordered the murder of her own brother:


From the king she went directly to blessed Medard of Noyon, earnestly beseeching him to consecrate her to God once she changed her habit. Royal officials, however, embarrassed the blessed man to the extent of dragging him violently from the altar in the basilica so that he would not veil the king's wife . . . . When the saint perceived this, she entered the sacristy, put on the habit of a nun, and proceeded to the altar, where she addressed the blessed Medard, saying: "If you refuse to consecrate me, fearing more a man than God, you will be held responsible for the soul of one of your sheep, O Pastor!" Shaken by her entreaty, as if he were struck by thunder, he laid his hands on her and consecrated her deaconess. 10


When Clothar persisted in his efforts to reclaim her, she appealed to Saint Germain. A shrewd observer of human nature and a clever diplomat, Saint Germain obtained from the king not only Radegund's freedom but also material assistance for her to build a nunnery at Poitiers.11


Young virgins of prominent families, often not more than twelve or fourteen years of age, were equally resolute in their spiritual purpose and defied their parents in order to avoid wedlock. The father of Saint Burgundofara dragged her from a basilica where she had hidden when he wanted to betroth her.12 The legend surrounding Saint Austroberta follows the same pattern: apprehensive that her father would force her to marry, Austroberta fled, taking her younger brother with her. 13 With courage and initiative, these young girls and others like them earned the sympathy and respect of churchmen. When an influential bishop or abbot interceded on the aspiring contemplative's behalf, her parents usually relented and founded a nunnery for her.

Not every Frankish saint had to assert her religious calling against antagonistic forces. In hagiographies written in the eighth century, the tension between parents and daughters was frequently resolved by a relative or a friend. Afraid to announce her spiritual vow to her parents, Saint Bertila of Chelles had the good fortune of gaining as her champion Audoen (Dado), bishop of Rouen (6i4‑684), a promoter of monasticism and one of the most powerful men in the Merovingian kingdom.14 Monastic life had become so popular among the young by this time that it was not unusual for several children in a family to take vows, reinforcing each other's intention. Although married, Waldtrud, recognizing that the celestial visions of her younger sister Aldegund were a manifest sign of her vocation, persuaded their parents to send Aldegund to a convent. Later, Waldtrud herself embraced monastic life by founding Mons.15

In the ninth century, a new pattern of behavior emerged in hagiography. Beside the stereotype of the virgin or widow who had to rebel against the authority of her family, or request the intercession of an influential churchman, a third type of consecrated woman appeared: the obedient daughter of pious parents who took a vow of chastity at their request. Or she married and bore and raised children, postponing her religious calling until her children were grown.

The legendary story of the sisters Herlinda and Renilda illustrates this new ideal of feminine behavior. The two girls, offered to God for the remission of their parents' sins, were sent to a convent at an early age to receive a religious education. Obedient and virtuous, they did not fail to live up to parental expectations. In the monastery their mother and father eventually built at Eyck, the sisters provided an inspiration in piety and religious service to young women throughout the region. 16 The life of Saint Hathumoda, more reliable as a factual account, illustrates the tendency of parents of many children to encourage the younger ones to remain celibate.l7

A different kind of obedience was exacted from an only daughter. To provide a role model for this kind of filial behavior, the biographer of Salaberga, writing in the early ninth century, some 150 years after her death, deprived the saint of her virginity, inventing two husbands and five children for her. Salaberga's purported marriages were arranged by her father "against her wishes," the biographer was careful to say. Her first union ended abruptly with the death of her husband two months after the nuptials. For two years she remained a widow, contemplating entrance to Remiremont, only to be thwarted in her objective by a new suitor, Baldwin (surnamed Baso). Although this young man also had a religious vocation, he was as conscious of his social obligations as was Salaberga. Pressured by his parents and ordered by the king, Baldwin married Salaberga for the sake of procreating children. The union, fruitless at first, was eventually blessed by five children, each dedicated to God by the parents. When her obligation to bear and raise children had been finally met, Salaberga was able to fulfill her wish of founding and leading a convent.18

These three patterns of behavior‑rebellion against parents or husbands, tension and accommodation through the intercession of an influential man, and dutiful obedience‑correspond roughly to three different phases in the history of feminine monasticism. In the sixth century, when nunneries were few in number, women wishing to devote themselves to the service of God had to be steadfast in their purpose to escape sex roles. During the seventh and eighth centuries, when nunneries were being built throughout the kingdom, women attracted to religious life could find support in their own families, even though some had to rely on outside mediation. Finally, the Carolingian reforms, which, on the one hand, urged the strict cloistering of women and, on the other hand, enhanced the dignity of married women, made religious life a less attractive alternative to marriage than it had appeared to women in previous centuries.I9




Feminine monasticism in sixth-century Gaul was a spontaneous movement, growing against great odds, primarily through the initiative of women. In central and northern Frankland, where there were no monasteries to serve as models, feminie asceticism was a grass-roots movement. Single, married, and widowed women of all ages, ranging from mere children to elderly matorns, offered their services to God. They shared one characteristic - a vow of chastity, often taken in opposition to their family. Some formed communities around churches and oratories, while the majority continued to live at home, placing themselves underthe protection of a local church and wearing a veil as the mark of their vocation.

In the south, where Christianity had deeper roots and a network of monasteries had developed, a few nunneries established in pre-Merovingian times, anot all survived the Germanic invasions.20 The convent founded by Cassian at Marseilles,21 Baume-les-Dames (Balma) established by Romanus in the Jura Mountains,22 and the community of more than sixty nuns organized by Leonian at Vienne continued.23 More influential than these older convents was Saint Jean of Arles, while Caesarius built for his sister at the beginning of the century24.

The need to guard the autonomy, privacy, and freedom of female contemplatives was well understood by Caesarius. He not only insisted on the communty’s exemption from episcopal governance and its economic self-sufficiency, but also prohibited the nuns from associating with and providing services, such as weaving, sewing , and cooking, for people in the outside world.25 These proved to be sufficiently attractive features to prompt the adoption and adaptation of Caesarius” Rule by later foundation father notrh.26 Popular as this rule proved to be, the convent founded by Caesarius did not become the center of female monasteries. Although his successor, Aurelian, sponsored a a second community of nuns at Arles, new convents were slow to appear in the south.27 In 543, Duke Anesmund and his wife, Ansleutana, established proprietary monastery for their daughter Remilia in the suburbs of Vienne.28 A similar community was organized at Toulouse only toward the end of the sixth century, when the widow Beretrud attached a convent to Saint Saturnin.29 Other southern cities, such as Narbonne, had no female convents.

In central and northern Frankland, feminine monasticism exhibited realer vigor, although the first communities were formed only toward the middle of the sixth century. Gregory of Tours reports that, in the absence of a nunnery, Saint Papula, disguising herself as a man, joined male institution.30 Other women remained at home, but dedicated Heir lives to the service of God.31 This ancient form of asceticism had been practiced by both men and women in Gaul at least since the fourth century.32 Women appear to have been more numerous than men in the inks of lay religious, probably because they could not enter the clergy.33 Gregory of Tours did not fail to mention the scandalous behavior of two lay women religious,34 but spoke with respect of those who persisted in their vows. For example, in leis Life of the Fathers, he celebrated a certain Georgia, who persisted in fasting and praying and died virgin at the age of sixty.35

The childhood pastimes of Saint Radegund are a good example of the daily life of professed virgins and widows. Odd as Radegund's activities may seem today, they represented an attempt to imitate the services omen religious rendered in churches and oratories. Educated at Athies, a royal villa, until she reached the appropriate age to be taken by Clothar I as one of his wives, Radegund was taught to read and write. She was impressed by the lives of martyrs and decided to follow their example. With the help of a young clerk, Samuel, she gathered poor children, fed them from her own table, and honored them by washing their hands and hair. Then, with Samuel carrying a wooden cross and Radegund marching behind him chanting psalms, the clerk and the virgin led the ragged procession to the oratory. There, Radegund pro­ceeded to act as "the good housekeeper," polishing the floor with her own robe and collecting the dust around the altar in her own kerchief.36 The widowed queen Clotild engaged in similar pursuits. After her husband's death, she went to Tours, where she devoted the rest of her days to service at the basilica of Saint Martin, according to Gregory of Tours.37

The first feminine communities in central Gaul came into existence by around oratories and basilicas, the gathering place of women religious. Ingitrud established a cloister in the courtyard of Saint Martin of Tours.38 Saint Martin‑de‑Jumellos, originally an oratory in the suburb of Amiens, was a nunnery in the days of Gregory of Tours.39 Néris near Montlucon developed in a similar manner.40 Saint Pierre‑le‑Vif of Sens was also connected with a basilica.41 Unlike the nunneries in the south, these communities either burgeoned spontaneously through feminine initiative or were sponsored by women. Bishop Aunacharius' (561‑605) foundation in Saint Martin's basilica at Auxerre probably also represented an attempt to build a convent for women religious already working at the basilica.42 Nunneries occasionally evolved around the cell of a recluse. At Chartres, Saint Monegund's retreat became the nucleus for a female community. When Monegund left the city because she could no longer endure the crowds that her fame as a healer attracted, she went to Tours and founded another nunnery there. The latter, Gregory of Tours was careful to say, had only a few members and better suited Monegund's wish to spend the rest of her days in "integral faith and prayer."43

Sixth‑century monastic foundations for women were, as a rule, built in places where the nuns were safe from attack, or at least could be readily defended. Caesarius had originally established the convent for his sister, Caesaria, in the suburb of Arles, but he moved it within the walls after the city was attacked by the Franks and Burgundians in 508.44 In addition, nuns could be readily supervised if their nunneries were located in cities. Even in this heroic age of monasticism, convents served as prisons. For example, Gregory of Tours reports that King Gunthram had his widowed sister‑in‑law incarcerated at Arles, in the monastery founded by Caesarius.45 Regarded as helpless and defenseless creatures whose virtue and lives had to be protected by men, Merovingian women were not allowed to lead a solitary life in uninhabited places. Gregory of Tours mentioned with astonishment the rumor of two virgins withdrawing to an impenetrable forest on a hill near Tours.46 Yet, at the same time, male communities were developing around the retreats of saintly hermits in the wilderness of Frankland with such rapidity that, by the end of the sixth century, there was a tight network of Christian culture in the area bordered by the rivers Garonne, Rhone, and Somme. Because feminine communities were not organized in the countryside, their number remained relatively low in comparison to male communities.47

By the end of the sixth century, feminine abbeys existed in all the urban centers of central Gaul. In addition to those already mentioned at Amiens, Auxerre, Chartres, Poitiers, Sens, and Tours,48 there was also one at Autun,49 another at Lyons,50 and probably one at Le Mans.51 As at Arles and Vienne, two female communities were functioning at Tours.52 Convents for women in smaller villages, such as Néris,53 were exceptions. Some probably had only a brief existence. A small convent established by Queen Clotild at Chelles, according to Gregory of Tours, was abandoned by the mid‑seventh century and had to be rebuilt by Queen Balthild. Yet another rural convent, Les Andelys, near Rouen, also reported to be Clotild's foundation, was resuscitated by Audoen, Columban's disciple, in the seventh century.54

The vitality of feminine asceticism should not be measured merely in terms of the number of nunneries. The concern expressed by sixth century councils over the status of professed virgins and widows living in the world indicates that many women were practicing asceticism outside the walls of convents.55 Undoubtedly some chose this form of life in order to escape from an unwanted union, while others undertook a true religious vocation.

The rewards of this alternate way of life included a degree of dignity and autonomy unavailable to married women, but the risks were also great. A woman faced the danger of rape and abduction, often sanctioned by kings, as well as the possibility of excommunication and exile if she failed to make a heroic effort to resist her abductor. The same bishops who, in 567 at the Council of Tours, put the final seal on the abolition of the diaconate of women, made every effort to protect women religious from rape and abduction, and to prevent them from abandoning their religious commitment. Legislating strict sanctions against men who deflected women from their purpose of serving God rather than a husband, the council recalled that Roman law punished with death those who had raped and subsequently married consecrated virgins and vowed widows. Noting that vestal virgins were buried alive if they lost the grace of virginity, the council admonished women who had changed their dress in honor of the Redeemer to expect an equally grave sentence if they failed to persevere in their resolution.56

The severity of this council was not without precedent. In 538, the Council of Orléans had used Innocent I's image of a vowed virgin as Christ's betrothed and of a veiled virgin as Christ's bride to excommunicate as adulteresses those who had consented to live with their ravishers. If the culprit had not been veiled, she was in a somewhat better position: she was required to perform penance only for a limited time and not until death.57 A widow's vow was equally binding for life, even though it could not be solemnized by a priestly blessing.58 The notion that a religious habit was the symbol of the vow of chastity was stressed not only by Tours but also by later sixth‑century councils.59

The bishops needed royal support to enforce these declarations, but only Clothar I went so far as to declare that "no one should dare to marry a nun."60 A few years earlier, when one of his wives, Radegund, had been consecrated a deaconess, Clothar had not professed the same respect for a woman's religious vow.61 Moreover, Clothar's brothel and descendants continued to sanction the abduction of professed virgins and widows. The Frankish bishops' efforts succeeded only in the following century. At the Council of Paris held in 614, Clothar II not only pledged to relinquish the practice of his predecessors but also ordered capital punishment for the abductors of women religious. Eve] 1 if such a nefarious union was concluded in a church, the couple was to be separated, both parties were to be exiled, and their property was to be distributed among the nearest kin.62

Clothar Il's edict heralded a new epoch when women no longer needed steadfast courage and stubborn determination, as in the sixth century, to lead an ascetic life. During the course of the seventh century . enough female monasteries came into being to offer refuge and shelter for women seeking to escape from abductors and irate parents. The abbess of Saint Jean of Arles did not hesitate to rescue the orphaned Rusticula, kidnapped by an eager suitor when she was only five.63 Saint Burgundofara's father ultimately acquiesced to her religious calling when she entered a monastery.64 Although men occasionally snatched their brides from convents, it was more difficult to abduct a woman from a community than from a private home; public opinion and the laws censured this conduct more severely. The Bavarian Code, issued in the early eighth century, ordered those who had abducted women front monasteries not only to return them but also to pay double indemnity to the institution if they did not wish to be exiled.65

The Council of Clichy, meeting in 626, still found it necessary to reiterate the threat of excommunication against those abducting women religious with royal permission.66 By the end of the seventh century. kings no longer authorized these actions. The growth of monasteries increased respect for self‑abnegating women, prompting kings to take all women religious under their protection. Entrance into a convent by this time was routinely offered as a choice to widows seeking an equal status with virgins and as a form of penance to lapsed women religious.67




At that time, throughout the provinces of Gaul, the troops of monks

and crowds of virgins under the rule of the blessed fathers Benedict

and Columban began to multiply not only in the fields, towns,

villages, and castles but also in the desert of the hermits, whereas

only a few monasteries were found in these places before this



These observations, although written by Saint Salaberga's biographer in the early ninth century, present an accurate picture of the religious rival in the Frankish Kingdom generated by the arrival of Saint ç Columban in the late sixth century.69

In keeping with the spirit of Irish Christianity, dominated both morally and administratively by monasticism rather than by clericalism, Saint Columban did not harbor prejudices against women. Instead of shunning their company, he sought their friendship. Instead of emphasizing their impurity, he recognized their spiritual equality. He accepted the hospitality of Theudemada, a lady of great wealth who led a religious life.70 Acting as the spiritual adviser to married women, he baptized and Blessed their children. The women thus honored proved to be enthusiastic supporters of monasticism, encouraging the religious vocation of their children and embracing the ascetic life themselves.71 A case in Point is Flavia, whose husband, Waldelen, was duke of Upper Burgundy. Approached by the young couple to pray for them so that their marriage might be blessed by children, Columban made them promise that they would offer their firstborn to God's service. Her wishes granted, Flavia not only sent her oldest son, Donatus, to Columban's foundation at Luxeuil, but when widowed she built Jussanum at Besançon. "Sur­rounding the convent with fortifications, she established many nuns there," wrote Ionas, Saint Columban's biographer.72

Saint Columban's example inspired a new attitude toward women among his Frankish collaborators and disciples, many of whom were trained at Luxeuil, the center of the Irish movement. Influential because of high birth and their positions as abbots and bishops, these men cultivated spiritual friendships with women and sought feminine co‑operation in building a network of monasteries throughout the king‑ As a result of their efforts, men and women began to work together in partnership, promoting the contemplative life and discovering would practical solution to the problem of instituting female communities outside the cities. To protect nuns, help them run their vast establishments, and provide sacerdotal services, these enterprising men and women attached a contingent of monks to some of the newly founded communities. They created thus a new institution, the double monastery, which had some precedents in the East and in Ireland. They also set up separate, affiliated communities for men and women in close proximity to each other.


In these new monasteries women were not overshadowed by higher ranking men. Rather, they collaborated with men and acted as spiritual leaders. The double monasteries, as Mary Bateson has aptly expressed it, provided the female element of the ruling class with something to rule.73 Usually double monasteries were governed by an abbess, and the affiliated institutions by an abbot and an abbess. In keeping with the penitential practices the Irish introduced to continental monasteries, abbesses heard confession three times a day and gave absolution and benediction to members of their community. They performed, therefore, quasi‑sacerdotal functions in addition to the normal administrative, disciplinary, and spiritual duties of their office. Under female leadership, some of the double houses became famous centers of learning and devotion; they attracted members from as far as England and served as models for the double monasteries of that island. Neither total segregation of the sexes nor strict cloistering was practiced in these communities. Nuns and monks occupied separate living quarters, but, in the scriptoria and the schools, and during the divine service, the two sexes shared common functions.

The rule compiled for nuns, probably by Waldebert of Luxeuil (629‑670), indicates that women did not live as parasites on men in the double monasteries. Nuns were required to perform manual labor. In addition to cooking, cleaning, serving, spinning, and sewing, activities traditionally associated with women, fishing, brewing, and building the fire were among the daily assignments of nuns. Work outside the monastery was always undertaken by teams of three or four, and special liturgical rites were prescribed for those going off to work in the morning and coming home in the evening.74

Faremoutiers‑en‑Brie (Evoracium) was probably the first double monastery. It was established around 617 by Burgundofara under the guidance of Eustachrus, abbot of Luxeuil. At an impressionable age, when she was not more than ten, Burgundofara had met Saint Columban and received his blessing. This experience left such a deep mark on her that she resisted her parents' attempts to force her to marry a few years later. Probably through her brother Chagnoald, a monk at Luxeuil, she appealed to Eustachrus. Coming in person to her rescue, Eustachrus took her to Meaux, where she was veiled and consecrated. The abbot then assigned two of his monks, Chagnoald and Waldabert, to help her build a nunnery and to instruct the new community in the principles of religious life. Eventually a second house was added for the monks, and Burgundofara presided over both.75

Habendum‑Remiremont, founded around 62o by the Austrasian magnate Romarich with the help of Amatus, one of Eustachius' pupils, had a different form of organization, at least initially. Established on the property of Romarich in the Meuselle Valley, it was planned as a joint community of monks and nuns rather than as a nunnery with monks attached to it. Amatus’ authority as the first abbot may have been superior to that of his coabbess, Metchtafled. On the other hand, the size of the feminine community was not only substantial from the very beginning, with eighty-four nuns serving under Mechtafled, but remained so. Although similar data on the size of the male community are missing, the number of monks decliend sufficiently by the time the fourth abbot died for the abbess to assume sole governance. Eventually the community of monks was completely dissolved.76

Joint supervision by an abbot and abbess did not become the prevalent form of government in the Frankish double monasteries. It remained in use only at affiliated institutions, such as Pavilly and Jumieges. Founded by Saint Filibert, Jumieges at first housed both monks and nuns. When the community grew in size, Filibert built Pavilly for the women and installed an abbess. Although the two houses retained a close relationship, they were too far apart to constitute a single institution.77

The government of a double monastery by an abot was an exception. Dom Schmitz’s characterization of double monasteries as usually falling into this pattern needs correction.78 Jumieges was a real double monastery only for a brief period, as a fledgling institution, before the foundation of the sister house. The other outstadnding example, Beze was not planned as a double institution but became one in 657 when Abbot Waldelen admitted his sister Adalsind and her nuns from neighboring Dorniaticum. Citing injuries and threats by men as her reason for wishing to join her brother’s commun ity, Adalsind accepted Beze’s rule, turning Dorniaticum with all its possessions and subjecting herself and her nuns to Waldelen’s authority as abbot.79

Frankish double monasteries normally were governed by abbesses. Laon, one ofthe largest convents, with three hundred nuns, was established around 641 on the model of Remiremont and had a single superior, Saint Salaberga.80 Jouarre, originally a male convent built by the monk Ado around 630, was put under the authority of an abbess when it was transformed into a double monastery by Bishop Faro of Meaux. From his sister's convent at Faremoutiers, Faro brought the nun Fheudechild to run the enlarged community.81 Around 658 or 659, when Queen Balthild reconstructed the ruins of a convent at Chelles as a monastery, she requested from Jouarre a nun capable of assuming command. Initially only a few priests were attached to Chelles to provide for the sacramental needs of the sisters, but, as the fame of the abbey grew under the capable leadership of Bertila, an increasing number of men sought admission. By the time Bertila died around 704, Chelles was a true double monastery, characterized by her biographer as a Christian community "fratrum sive sororum."82

The double monasteries developing farther north, between the Somme and the Meuse, fall into the same pattern; they were either governed by an abbess or were under joint female and male guidance. Gertrud ruled Nivelles, which was founded by her mother, Itta, with the help of Saint Amand around 640.83 Aldegund single‑handedly directed Maubeuge, which she had organized in 661.84 On the other hand, at Marchiennes, established around 647, the nuns were supervised by Rictrud, and the monks had their own abbot, Ionas.85 By the ninth century, the abbess exercised authority over both sexes at Marchiennes. At Hasnon, built around 670, the founder, John, governed the men, and his sister, Eulalia, presided over the women.86

Some of the double monasteries began as nunneries, with the community of monks being added at a later date. Notre‑Dame of Soissons was instituted as a feminine convent in 666. A few years later, when Sigrada, Leodegar of Autun's mother, was living there, the community also included brothers.87 Hamaye, probably the oldest nunnery north of the Somme,88 and Avenay at Reims followed a similar pattern.89 We also know that Saint Jean of Arles and Holy Cross of Poitiers invited monks to live in their burial churches.90

Although double monasteries were popular, their number remained relatively small.91 Only the wealthiest foundations could support a community of nuns and monks.92 Feminine convents affiliated with masculine houses were also not very numerous.93 On the other hand, nunneries mushroomed in the cities and suburbs.

Without a systematic study of Merovingian nunneries to yield statistics, it is not possible to ascertain whether or not the imbalance between male and female institutions was redressed by the seventh century. That this may have been the case in the cities is suggested by the monastic history of Metz. Only male communities existed in that city in the sixth century. But two of the three convents that developed there in the seventh century were nunneries, namely Sainte Glossindis and Saint Pierre‑aux‑Nonnaines.94 In other towns as well‑at Noyon,95 Clermont,96 Bourges 97 ‑more than one female community sprang up during this period of religious enthusiasm.

Various factors prompted the development of several nunneries in the same town. Often one house was within the walls and the other in the suburb.98 The size of the endowment undoubtedly limited the number of members an established community was willing to accept. Laon, with three hundred nuns, a figure stated in the life of Saint Salaberga, was an exception. Remiremont had eighty‑four nuns and Pavilly only twenty‑five.99 Many convents were probably even more modest in size.

In addition, the proprietary church system encouraged the proliferation of small nunneries. Under this arrangement, the founder retained control over the convent's administration and landed property. 100 Many of the seventh‑century female houses, established by wealthy widows, doting parents, and bishops devoted to their mothers and sisters, fall into this pattern. For instance, Flavia's Jussanum and the female communities at Bourges were proprietary nunneries.101 This type of institution usually remained quite small, representing no more than an extended household, that is, an aristocratic house turned into a family cult center.102 As opposed to the prestige of the greater houses, a proprietary convent offered the comfort of familiar faces and surroundings. Members did not suffer from homesickness, an emotion Leodegar of Autun thought his mother, Sigrada, experienced at Soissons. Writing to her from prison, Leodegar tried to console her with the suggestion that the brothers and sisters of the monastery had replaced her family and servants.103 The presence of close blood relations, sisters and aunts, in a larger community undoubtedly eased the adjustment to the new surroundings, and was often the determining factor in an aristocratic woman's choice of a convent. To discourage the formation of kinship circles in double monasteries, Waldebert's Rule stressed spiritual sisterhood as the essence of communal life.104

Many opportunities were available to women who wished to embrace celibate life in the seventh century. The call to asceticism, sounded throughout Frankland by the Irish missionaries, found an enthusiastic response among both sexes. In all walks of life, men and women renounced marriage, devoting their energies to the service of God. As in previous centuries, some professed virgins and widows continued to live in the world, looking after the poor and acting as housekeepers in churches, but the chance to communicate and live with other women holding the same interests and beliefs held an even greater attraction. Religious communities provided a supportive environment and an atmosphere of calm where women could live, work, and pray. By serving God and each other in humility, actively participating in the liturgy, and exercising their intelligence and administrative tale "Its, they could achieve a level of accomplishment in their lives not available to them in the outside world.

Life in small proprietary nunneries, which observed rules of varying laxity, or may not have observed any at all, was not very different from that in the great aristocratic households. Relatively free to come and go as they pleased, members could leave the community at will. The effort of the Council of Paris in 611 to impose stability on monks and nuns alike was not sustained. Even Waldebert, although intending his compilation for larger institutions, envisioned the readmission of a female monastic to the same community. 105

In the double monasteries and larger communities, discipline was strict and the nuns were kept busy. Under rules combining Caesarian, Columban, and Benedictine elements, daily activities were carefully regulated.106 In addition to assigned chores, everyone had to engage in prayer, liturgical services, and devotional readings at certain times of' the day. Not only communal affairs such as meals but also private and personal matters were subject to rules. For example, places in the dormitory were assigned according to age, with younger sisters alternating with older ones to avoid the possibility of frivolity and carnal temptation.107 Even washing hair was a communal activity to be undertaken every Saturday.

Some members served in administrative offices as dean, wardrobe mistress, cellarer, and portress. Others acted as librarians, scribes, and teachers.108 Seventh‑century foundations functioned also as boarding schools for both sexes, accepting as pupils even "infantes," children below the age of six.109 A purely contemplative existence was pursued only by those choosing to endure the rigors of solitude as recluses. Although Gregory of Tours spoke of special cells being set aside for recluses in monasteries, seventh‑century sources do not mention anyone leading this type of life.110

Lesser women, the protégés and servants of the founders and abbesses, were admitted to both the double monasteries and smaller convents. Eustadiola, her biographer relates, built her nunnery for herself and her slaves ("suisque puellis").111 Queen Balthild instructed the Saxon slaves ("viros et puellas") whom she had redeemed and kept in her own household to join monasteries.112 The rules did not limit membership to women of the upper classes. Both Caesarius' Rule and Aurelian's adaptation of it envisioned poor as well as wealthy women among the sisters of a community. Aurelian's Rule clearly stated that freedwomen could be accepted as postulants if they had their master's permission. Caesarius' Rule stressed that noble origin or wealth was not to be taken into consideration in the selection of an abbess. The royal princesses at Holy Cross of Poitiers challenged in vain the leadership of the abbess Leubovera, who was not of royal blood.113 Only in the late eighth century did the requirement of an entrance fee become customary both in female and male communities.114

Nevertheless, social distinctions were not altogether obliterated it the convents. Saint Radegund's hagiographer made a point of mentioning the punishment the queen inflicted from heaven upon Vinoberga her maidservant ("famula"), who dared to sit upon the throne after she had died. For three days and nights smoke and flame billowed from the girl's body. Only after she had confessed her sin and prayed with the congregation for forgiveness did the saint relent and relieve the girl's agony. 115





When the Anglo‑Saxon missionaries arrived on the continent in the early eighth century, they found in the Frankish Kingdom a network of monasteries, which they then extended to the lands east of the Rhine. They introduced the Benedictine Rule into these new foundations, subjecting abbots and abbesses to strict episcopal control. Although some bishops jealously guarded their prerogatives of supervising female communities,116 the convents under Caesarius' Rule, the communities established in the wake of the Irish revival, and the houses to which Balthild granted immunity were free from episcopal control.

When Saint Boniface turned his attention to the state of the Frankish church, he first proposed the reform of all monasteries according to the Benedictine norm.117 As the reforms progressed, all forms of religious life were brought under episcopal control. Although Boniface's intent was to apply the same rules to both male and female communities,118 later synods tended to interpret the rules more strictly for women than for men. The extension of episcopal jurisdiction over the monasteries was carried out with the help of the new dynasty. In fact, increased episcopal authority was the bishops' reward for cooperating in the creation of the Carolingian "Reichskirche." In this new structure, the monasteries lost their former independence, and their resources became subject to royal exploitation.119 As advisers of kings and close associates of bishops, abbots were able to mitigate the constraints placed upon their communities. But female communities, caught between the highhanded treatment of bishops and the financial exactions of kings, declined in power and influence.

It was not the intention of the Anglo‑Saxon missionaries to slight women religious or diminish the prestige of their institutions. Like their Irish predecessors, the Anglo‑Saxons held nuns in high regard. They maintained correspondence with abbesses in England, requesting material assistance, books, and helpers.120 The women who responded to their call founded and led feminine communities east of the Rhine. Even though Boniface and his companions appreciated the contributions of their female coworkers, they were careful to guard the prerogatives of the male clergy. Boniface spoke of both monks and nuns as "the knights of Christ,"121 but he also questioned Pope Zachary on whether or not it was proper for nuns to engage in the liturgical rite of washing each others' feet.122 It did not bother Boniface that monks performed the same ceremony; monks were eligible to participate in the clerical hierarchy and many indeed were priests. As bishops, the Anglo‑Saxons supervised feminine communities more closely and interpreted the Benedictine Rule more rigorously for female than for male monastics. For example, Bishop Lull excommunicated Abbess Sitha for allowing two nuns to take a voyage without asking his permission. Yet the Council of Verneuil held in 755 acknowledged that monks may travel when ordered by their abbot.123

In 742, when Boniface initiated reforms in the Frankish areas, he called for the observation of Benedictine Rule by monks and nuns alike.124 Thirteen years later, in 755, when the Council of Verneuil convened, it became evident that the imposition of the Rule was not an easy matter. The precise instructions for bishops, if a monastery failed to accept the rule, included excommunication of the recalcitrant community; individual nuns were to be imprisoned and subjected to forced labor if they failed to conform. That uncooperative monks might be coerced in this manner was not considered.125

The Council of Verneuil also declared that women who had veiled themselves and men who had tonsured themselves were either to join a monastery "sub ordine regulari," or to live under the supervision of bishops "sub ordine canonica."126 Around the same time, between 751 and 766, Chrodegang of Metz undertook the compilation of a set of regulations for canons attached to the basilicas of Metz.127 Rules for canonesses were assembled for the first time in 813,128 even though, beginning with the Council of Frankfurt in 796, abbesses had been routinely offered the choice between Benedictine profession or a canonical life.129 If an abbess chose the latter, both she and the nuns in her charge were to observe the regulations of the councils. That these regulations were not altogether consistent, or that their texts were not readily available, did not bother the reforming councils.

As the reorganization of monasteries under episcopal authority progressed, women who wished to lead a religious life came under increasing pressure to join a community. By the late seventh century, widows and virgins who wished to be veiled were ordered into convents,130 Probably in an attempt to protect these women from hasty veiling, Charlemagne ruled that the ceremony could be performed only

when a woman reached age twenty‑five.131 This did not mean that a private vow of chastity ceased to be binding. Although the symbol of a private vow, the black dress, was now designated as only quasi religious, .1 woman wearing this dress could be ordered by the bishop to a nunnery if' she came under suspicion of having broken the vow.132

During the second phase of the Carolingian reforms, when the emphasis was shifting to the unique sacramental and juridical powers of the priesthood, the church became even less tolerant of women religious outside convents. In 829, the Council of Paris declared that omen who had veiled themselves were evil; they tempted and trapped priests and were to be barred from churches. A widow had to wait thirty days after her husband's death to be veiled, and then had to join a convent. Priests could veil widows only with the consent of bishops.133 The Council of Paris also put the final seal on earlier legislation limiting the function of women religious to the lighting of candles and the ringing of church bells. The status of these women, the council declared, was not different from that of ordinary laymen.


It is against divine law and canonical instruction for women to intrude on the other side of holy altars, to touch impudently the consecrated vessels, administer for priests sacerdotal vestments, and, what is even worse, more indecent and more inappropriate, to distribute the body and blood of the Lord to the people. . . . It is certainly amazing that women, whose sex by no means makes them competent, despite the laws, were able to gain license to do things that are prohibited even to secular men. 145


The foundation of a small proprietary nunnery no longer provided a viable alternative to those who did not wish to give up their independence while leading a religious life. New foundation were not encouraged,135 except in recently conquered lands. Moreover, the Carolingian policy of transforming monasteries into royal abbeys in order to gain access to their resources, a policy closely linked with the program of bringing all monasteries under episcopal governance, called for the consolidation of communities with only a few members.136 Many of these were nunneries. In 789, Charlemange ordered that “the very small monasteries where nuns reside without rule be combined into one regular congregation at a place designated by the bishop.”137 The execution of this project apparently took several decades. Acapitulary issued in 829 expressed continued concern about the existence of small monasteries,138 and Hrabanus Maurus encouraged a fellow bishop to dissolve a “monasteriola nonarum” and transfer to another convent the nuns who did not live according to the rule.139

As small nunneries were gradually eliminated and the status of women religious living in the world degraded, the only choice available to women who did not wish to marry was to join either a Benedictine convent or an institute of canonesses. But the institutes of canonesses came to resemble Benedictine houses when specific guidelines for the life of the canonesses were finally issued in 813 by the Council of Chalons. Although the council declared that women who lived according to the canons and called themselves canonesses constituted a separate order - presumably the feminine counterpart of the order of canons - canonesses were to lead a more austere life than canons.140 Three years later, in 816, when the council of Aix expanded these guidelines into a rile, the Institutio sanctimonialium, little difference between the obligations of Benedictine nuns and canonesses remained.

Because of the alleged weakness of their sex, female members of the canoical order were to be stricly cloistered.141 Whereas canons were allowed to manage both ecclesiastical and personal property,142 canonesses had to delegate this task to an outsider.143 Canonesses were required to cover their faces in public and to wear a veil in church,144 and they were to be careully guarded from all contact with men.145 Even abbesses could meet men only in the presence of other sisters.146 Conversations with relatives and servants had to be monistored by three or four reliable members of the community.147

The cloistering of religious women was an issue that had weighed heavily on the minds of earlier Carolingian churchmen as well. Abbesses, and certainly other members of the community, were allowed to leave the monastery only if they were summoned by the king, according to the Council of Verneml held in 755.148 The reiteration of similar and even greater restrictions by practically every reforming synod indicates that the cloistering of nuns was not as strictly enforced as the hierarchy may have wished.149 Like their Anglo‑Saxon sisters, Frankish women religious were apparently accustomed to going on pilgrimages, at least until 796 or 797, when the Council of Friuli ordered them not to.150 In so doing, the council may have had in mind the Anglo‑Saxon nuns who never reached Rome but ended up, according to Saint Boniface, in one of the many brothels that lined the roads to Italy.151 Similar considerations‑the desire to prevent sisters from leaving the convent and to guard them against temptation‑prompted council after council to inveigh against nuns wearing male attire,152 and to caution against unnecessary visits by men, including bishops, canons, and monks.153 In imposing on canonesses the strict cloistering required by the Benedictine Rule, the Carolingian churchmen were undoubtedly motivated by a desire to protect the safety and chastity of women, but they ultimately restricted the ascetic life sought by women.

An extension of the effort to avoid the danger of close association of the sexes within the convents was to prohibit nuns and canonesses from educating boys.154 Even hospices for the poor and pilgrims had to be located outside the convent, adjacent to the church where the clergy attached to the monastery officiated.155 Abbesses of both types of monasteries, for Benedictines and canonesses, lost not only their freedom of movement but also their former influence. Although emperors and kings periodically summoned them, undoubtedly to discuss the disposition of monastic resources,156 abbesses, unlike abbots, did not participate in reforming assemblies. Moreover, they were denied participation in functions that could be construed as quasi sacerdotal. Forbidden to give benediction to the opposite sex, they could not consecrate members of their own community.157 Although the belief that canonesses were members of the clergy lingered,158 the councils abolished all functional distinctions between canonesses and nuns. Apart from ringing church bells and lighting candles, 159 nuns and canonesses could participate in the work of the church only by praying, singing, reciting psalms, celebrating the canonical hours,160 tending the sick and poor women,161 and educating girls.162

Once the councils had established that all women religious were to be cloistered, with their activities supervised by bishops, and that nuns and canonesses were to perform similar functions, the reformers stopped pressing for the imposition of the Benedictine Rule in feminine houses. In 816, a year after the Council of Aix issued the Institutio sanctimonialium, another Aachen assembly was held to formulate detailed rules for Benedictine monks.163 No attempt was made to adapt the Benedictine Rule for use by nunneries. Whereas monks were sent to Inde to be trained in Benedictine observances, Louis the Pious did not designate a model Benedictine abbey for the training of women. Although Louis did offer the same economic incentive to both feminine and masculine houses to adopt the Benedictine Rule, a list of forty‑eight Benedictine royal abbeys compiled in 819, the Notitia de servitio monasterionum, included only five nunneries. 164 Yet, two years earlier, an important royal monastery not listed in the Notitia, Remiremont, had opted for the Benedictine Rule. 165 We can only conclude that the reformers did not bother to list all feminine Benedictine abbeys because they were not pressing the imposition of the Benedictine Rule on female communities.

To determine the relative proportion of Benedictine nunneries and institutes of canonesses, more research on the history of individual houses is needed. The terminology of donations and grants of immunity from royal exactions is not sufficiently precise to warrant Schafer's hypothesis that institutes of canonesses dominated in the ninth century.166 The restriction imposed by the Institutio and the economic advantages that abbesses could obtain under Benedictine Rule may have prompted abbesses to choose the latter course. The fact that the Institutio sanctimonialium is extant in only four ninth‑century manuscripts suggests that it was not widely followed.l67 The testimony of Bishop Alderic, that he consecrated 103 "monachas" and 17 "canoni­cas" in the diocese of Le Mans between 832 and 857, 168 indicates that, as at least in that region, more women joined Benedictine convents than institutes of canonesses.

The immediate effect of Carolingian policies on double monasteries is clearer. Double monasteries did not disappear, but the community of monks was transformed into a community of canons. This development did not necessarily parallel the transformation of the female community into an institute of canonesses. The Translatio S. Baltechildis, in 833, described Chelles as having a "clergy of men and women," which probably meant that both houses had relinquished the Benedictine Rule.l69 On the other hand, the nuns of Holy Cross of Poitiers observed the Benedictine Rule and had canons living at Sainte Radegonde, their affiliated institution.170 Notre‑Dame of Soissons under Benedictine observance had a chapter of canons by 872.171 Royal appropriations of the property of female communities made the presence of monks as supervisors of agricultural labor superfluous. It was far less expensive to support a few canons than a community of monks. The canons were priests and administered to the sacramental needs of the sisters. The new arrangement had disadvantages as well. Canons were less likely than monks to share with the sisters a sense of common endeavor. They were not cloistered and enjoyed a greater freedom of movement than the sisters. Although they were economically dependent on the abbess, they did not come under her jurisdiction. Their clerical status, moreover, gave them the magisterial authority that abbesses had formerly exercised.

The transformation of a double monastery into a community of nuns or canonesses with a chapter of canons attached, ended a period in the history of Western monasticism when feminine and masculine communities had been considered fully equal and coordinate institutions. Henceforth it became more difficult for male and female ascetics to draw inspiration from each other for their parallel, albeit autonomous, pursuit of spiritual perfection. Nuns and canonesses had to depend for religious guidance on men in the "sacred orders," whereas monks could rely solely on members of their own community.

The strict cloistering of nuns and canonesses on the one hand the shrinking economic resources of monasteries on the other considerably tempered women's enthusiasm for monastic life in the ninth century. Undoubtedly, the improved legal position of married women contributed to the waning of women's interest in an ascetic life. In highest echelons of society, fewer ladies preferred the convent to marriage. We do not hear of ninth‑century princesses running away for eager suitors or ardent husbands and clamoring for admittance convents.

In comparison to the numerous female saints among the Merovingians, there were only a few under the Carolingians. The tight cont placed by ninth‑century bishops on all forms of female asceticism seem to have inhibited women's aspirations for heroic sanctity. Women who were sanctified by the Carolingians either were connected with monastic foundations in newly conquered lands or were associated with dome virtues, like Saint Liutberga.172 This suggests that the Carolingian bishops may have considered elevation to sainthood a reward for socially constructive behavior.

Although the wives and daughters of Carolingian kings held lands of the great feminine abbeys as part of their dowry or inheritance,173 they chose the convent as a place of dwelling only when they needed shelter in old age or adversity. Charlemagne's daughters withdrew to monasteries when, after their father's death, their brother Louis the Pious forced them to leave the court.174 Louis the Pious appointed his widowed mother‑in‑law as abbess of Chelles,175 and the dowager empress Engelberga joined before her death the nunnery she had founded at Piacenza. l76 Judith of Bavaria found refuge at Notre‑Da of Laon until her husband could clear her name. 177 Nunneries were a used as places of refuge by women with estranged or irate husbands. Avenay sheltered Theutberga until Lothar II was forced to drop

charges of incest and reclaimed her.178 Andelau provided protection Queen Richardis when Charles the Fat accused her of adultery. 179 Conversely, princes used nunneries as prisons for troublesome women When Tassilo, duke of Bavaria, was exiled and forced to enter a monastery his daughters were sent to nunneries.180 The stepsons of Judith Bavaria imprisoned her at Holy Cross of Poitiers,181 and Charles the Bald confined his own daughter, named Judith after her grandmother to Notre‑Dame of Senlis.182 Both male and female communities functioned as asylums for the handicapped, retarded, and mentally disturbed. Ninth‑century accounts of miracles abound with cures of blind nuns or nuns possessed by demons.183 The cloister was thus used be to shield female ascetics and to segregate women considered undesirable, socially dangerous, or unproductive, whether priests' wives, lapsed "sanctimoniales," or other women.

Increasingly used as a shelter, a prison, an old‑age home, and exploited as a source of income for princesses and queens, nunneries lost their aura of heroic sanctity during the ninth century. The criteria for admission increasingly emphasized wealth rather than religious calling. Only in exceptional cases would a woman of humble background be admitted. The Miracles of Austroberta, composed in the ninth century, reports that the saint interceded on behalf of a poor girl. Refused admission to Pavilly on the ground that she was an unfree dependant of the monastery, the girl maintained a vigil at the saint's tomb, only to be forcibly removed by the abbess. This might have sealed the fate of the girl had not the abbess been suddenly struck by an illness, which was interpreted by the community as the saint's punishment for her haughtiness. Duly repentant, the abbess sent for the girl and accepted her as a postulant.184

The outstanding characteristic of ninth‑century abbesses was, not their holiness, but their business acumen. Ermentrud, abbess of Jouarre, exemplified the aggressive economic policy that abbesses had to pursue, despite the strict cloistering imposed on them. Through her family connections she obtained important relics for Jouarre. Once her monastery became a place of pilgrimage, she secured through the empress, her namesake and the proprietress of Jouarre, a grant of immunity from Charles the Bald with attendant rights of a marketplace and coinage.185 Not only Benedictine abbeys, such as Jouarre, but also institutes of canonesses were granted privileges of this kind by Charles the Bald and his successors. In 877, for example, Nivelles obtained by royal grant a piece of land, the income from which was to be reserved exclusively for members of the convent.186 Under Louis the Pious, this grant would have been issued only to a Benedictine monastery.

Once the economic incentive to observe the Benedictine Rule ceased, more and more Benedictine nunneries, such as Remiremont, were transformed into institutes of canonesses. By the end of the ninth century, the attempt to cloister canonesses had been abandoned. As royal control disintegrated and power devolved into the hands of the great aristocratic families, the episcopate could not enforce its legislation. What the Carolingians had sown, the late ninth‑century aristocracy reaped. Local families took over the exploitation of monastic revenues, with their daughters administering convents as lay abbesses. Under their leadership, rules were eased; Benedictine abbeys were transformed into institutes of canonesses, and strict cloistering was no longer required.187

The freer life led by canonesses and their abbesses better suited the function of political leadership that all monasteries had to undertake by the end of the ninth century, in addition to the traditional economic, cultural, and social roles they had played earlier. Providing a more desirable alternative to married life, these communities attracted powerful women as members. In the tenth century, abbesses once again arrogated for themselves the title "diaconis and at one was addressed as "metropolitana."189 Despite their titles, the superiors of tenth‑century feminine communities did not attempt to play clerical and quasi‑clerical roles. Nor did they attempt to assert spiritual leadership over men. Although abbesses led a much freer life than their ninth century predecessors, their power was based on the control they exercised over the monastery's extensive holdings rather than on their religious authority.

Resistance to women religious living in the world diminished by the end of the ninth century. While cautioning against the hasty veiling of widows, the Council of Mainz in 888 offered veiled widows the choice of joining a monastery or remaining in their own homes. l90 Nor were veiled virgins forced to enter a convent. Thus, nuns appeared once again as the helpers of priests, although their activities remained strictly limited to housekeeping tasks, such as maintaining order in the church, keeping the lights burning, and producing altar clothes and priestly vestments. They were also encouraged to contribute their own wealth to the church. 191

The Carolingian effort to cloister women religious proved to be premature. It represented an ideal ill‑suited to the political and social realities of the next two centuries, and was revived only in the late eleventh century by the Gregorian reformers. Nevertheless, women religious never recovered the clerical functions they had exercised as deaconesses in the sixth century and as abbesses in the seventh century.

Even though the Carolingian bishops had managed to eliminate female leadership roles in the church, restricting women to the domestic and private spheres and subjecting them to male authority, they could not prevent women from making their presence felt as contemplatives. One of these contemplatives was Saint Liutberga. The widowed Countess Gisla chose Liutberga from a convent, attracted by her intelligence and sweet disposition, as a companion. After her patroness's death, Liutberga was entrusted with the management of the vast estates of the descendants of Count Hessi of Saxony. Although the family prospered under her care, her long vigils and visits to churches after nightfall annoyed the reigning count. When, as a result of his outbursts, she announced her intention to become a recluse, he influenced the bishop against her. Eventually she was permitted to attach herself as a recluse to the convent of Wendhausen, where she supported herself by giving instruction in the art of wool dyeing. Her influence soon expanded beyond this. Great men and women and even prelates from distant places visited her, seeking her counsel and listening to her elevated discourse. 192

Others, like Hathumoda, asserted feminine presence in the church by insisting on asceticism as the essence of monastic life. As the first abbess of Gandersheim, founded between 852 and 853 by her parents, Hathumoda could have organized the community as an institute of canonesses. She chose instead the more rigorous Benedictine observance, cloistering the sisters and forbidding them to have private cells, keep servants, and eat apart from the community.193 At the same time, Hathumoda took pains to establish a tradition of scholarship that was to nourish the talents of the dramatist and poet Hroswitha in the next century.

Different as their backgrounds, experiences, and accomplishments were, Liutberga and Hathumoda represented the same feminine type, the self-reliant female contemplative of the Middle Ages. In comparison with women religious of late antiquity, even the women in Jerome’s circle, Liutberga and Hathumoda were far more independent. They did not labor in the shadow of great men . In an age of waning spirituality and asceticism, each in her own way acted as a religious reformer. Liutberga demonstrated that recluses could be both spiritually and socially useful, whereas Hathumoda provided an example of feminine initiative in the pursuit of monastic perfection. Making te most of the roles to which women religious were restricted by the second half of the ninth century, Liutberga and Hathumoda and others like them transcended these roles. Reaching out beyond themselves, they demonstrated that women could excel at spiritual leadership.




1. As Elise Boulding remarked: "One of the many frustrations in trying to write the underside of history is that the rise of the monastic movement is written almost entirely in terms of men" (The Underside of History [Boulder, Colo., 1978], p. 368). Lina Eckenstein's Woman under Monasticism and her The Women of Early Christianity (London, 1935) may be supplemented by Eleanor Shipley Duckett, The Gateway to the Middle Ages: Monasticism (Ann Arbor, Mich., 1938), Sister M. Rosamond Nugent, Portrait of the Consecrated Woman in Greek Christian Literature of the First Four Centuries (Washington, D.C., 1941), and George H. Tavard, Woman in Christian Tradition. A more narrow focus is provided by René Metz, La Consecration des vièrges dans L'Eglise romaine (Paris, 1954). I was unable to consult the latest work on Carolingian monasteries by jean Décarreaux, Moines et monastères à l'epoque de Charlemagne (Paris, 1980). In his earlier work, Décarreaux dealt only with Radegund in some detail. See Monks and Civilization from the Barbarian Invasions to the Reign of Charlemagne, trans. C. Haldane (London, 1962).

2. See Introduction, notes 8‑14, for relevant literature on the subject. Jean Verdon listed the nunneries that were still in existence in the ninth century. See "Recherches," pp. 1 17‑138. He also noted that he is preparing a similar study on the nunneries of northern France (ibid., p. 118. n. 3).

3. Venantius Fortunatus, "De virginitate," Opera poetica 8.3, lines 327‑38 (NIGH Auct. ant. 4/ 1, 189‑191).

4. Ambrose, De virginibus 1.6.25‑27 (PL 16, 206‑207) "plures generaverit, plus laborat. Numeret solatia filiorum, sed numeret pariter et molestias. Nubit et plorat . . . Concepit et, gravescit . . . quid recenseam nutriendi molestias, instituendi et copulandi." On the glories of virginity, see also Cyprian, De habilu virg. 22 (CSEL 3, 202‑203); Jerome, Adversus Helvidium 20 (PL 23, 214A‑B); Epistolae 22.2.1 (CSEL 54, 146); Augustine, De sancta virginitate 13 (CSEL 41, 245); Epistulae 150 (CSEL 44, 381). On the praises lavished on virgins in the high and later Middle Ages, see Matthäus Bernards, Speculum virginum: Geistlichkeit and Seelenleben der Frau im Hochmittelalter (Forschungen zur Volkskunde, 36, 38; Cologne, 1955) and John Bugge, Virginitas: An Essay in the History of a .'Medieval Ideal (International Archives of the History of Ideas, Ser. Min., 17; The Hague, 1975).

5. Gregory of Tours, Liber vitae patrum 19.1 (MGH Script. rer. met. 1, 736) Gregory made it clear that she had married "parentum ad votum."

6. Hucbald, Vita s. Rictrudis (HIGH Script. rer. met. 6, 94). She died in 668, but her life was composed in 907; see Van der Essen, Etude critique. pp. 260‑265.

7. Vita s. Geretrudis 2 (MGH Script. rer. met. 2, 455‑456) Gertrud was born "I 626 and died in 658; when her father, Pepin, died in 640, she was fourteen years old, that is, of marriageable age.


8. Vita s. Eustadiola (AS 8 Iunii; 2, 132). She was a contemporary of Sulpicius,

who died in 647; Vita Sulpilii (MGH Scnpt. rer. met. 4, 371‑38o). See also Dekkers, Clavis patrum latinorum 298.

9. Vita s. Sigolenae (AS 24 Iulii; 5, 63o‑637). See also above, chapter 6, note 81.

10. Fortunatus, De vita sanclae Radegundis 1.12 (MGH Script. rer. met. 2, 368). Gregory of Tours, Hist. franc. 3.7 (MGH Script. rer. met. 1, 115), also mentioned the murder of her brother.

11. On the history of Radegund's nunnery, first dedicated to Noire‑Dame, and then named Sainte‑Croix when Radegund obtained from the Emperor Justin a piece of the Cross, see, in addition to the sources cited in the previous note, her testament (Pardessus 192 [Vol. 1, 151 ]) and the letter addressed to her by the Council of Tours held in 567 (CCL 148A, 195‑199). Among secondary sources, see René Aigrain, Sainte Radegonde (Paris, 1 g 18) and "Une abbesse mat connue de Sainte‑Croix de Poi­tiers," Bulletin philologique et historique (1946‑47), 197‑202; Dom Pierre Monsabert, "Le testament de Sainte Radegonde," Bulletin philologique et historique (1926‑27), 129‑134; and Verdon, "Recherches," p. 120. Several articles deal with her in Etudes mérovingiennes.‑ Actes des Journees de Poitiers, 1952 (Paris, 1953): René Aigrain, "Un ancien poème anglais, sur la vie de sainte Radegonde," pp. 1‑12; L. Coudanne, "Baudonivie, moniale de Sainte‑Croix et biographe de sainte Radegonde," pp. 45‑51; E. Delaruelle, "Sainte Radegonde, son type de sainteté et la chrétienté de son temps," pp. 65‑74; Georges Marié, "Sainte Radegonde et le milieu monastique contemporain, " pp. 219‑225.

12. Ionas, Vitae sanctorum: Columbani 2.7 (MGH Script. rer. met. 4/1, 122; MGH Script. rer. germ. in usu schol. 241‑242). J. O'Carrol, "Sainte Fare et les origines," in Sainte Fare et Faremoutiers (L'Abbeye de Faremoutiers, 1956), pp. 4--35­.

13. Vita s. Austrebertae 7 (AS 1o Feb.; 2, 420): "parentes ejus . . . arrhabone pro amore seculi recepto, tempus praefinitum et diem statuissent nup­tiarium . . . illa in angustiis posita, cogitate coepit quid ageret. Moesta vero iter furtim arripuit, germano secum fratre, licet parvulo. assumpto." She was veiled around 656 and died between 681 and 704, according to the editor of her Vita.‑ Pref. 1 (ibid., 418). Although her biographer claims to have been her contemporary, the vita was composed in the late eighth century; cf. Dekkers, Clavis patrum latinorum 2089.

14. Vila Bertilae 1 (MGH Script. rer. met. 6, 1o1). According to the editor, W. Levison, the life was composed after the mid‑eighth century, probably in the late eighth or ninth century (ibid. 6, 99).

15. Vita Aldegundis 2 (MGH Script. rer. met. 6, 86). The prevailing opinion among scholars is that the first version of her life was composed before 850, in the late eighth century; for a summary of the literature, see E. de Moreau, Histoire de l'Eglise en Belgique, Vol. 1, 2d ed. rev. (Brussels, 1945) 137‑138. She died in 684, according to Van der Essen. Etude critique, pp. 219.

16. Vita ss. Herlindis et Renildae 3, 6 (AS 22 Martii; 3, 384‑385) "quoadusque filiae suae ad intelligibile tempus perductae fuissent, votis voverunt absque ulla dilatione illas se tradituros divinis litteris imbuendas . . . 11 propria haereditate monasterium aedificarent, in quo electae filiae ip ipsorum pro peccatis suis immortali Domino funderent preces." Com posed in the ninth century, according to Van der Essen, it contain. legendary details about the life of the two sisters, who lived in the early part of the eighth century. Etudes critique, pp.109- 111.

17. Agius, Agii Vita et obitus Hathumodae 3 (MGH Script. 4, 167). She died in 871 Besides the monk Agius, her brother, she had two sisters, Gerberga an(; Christina, who also entered Gandersheim. Her older brother, Duke Otto, and her older sister, Liutgard, were married; see Heineken, Dr. Anfänge, and L. Zoepf, Lioba, Hathumot, Wiborada: Drei Heilige des deutschen Mittelalters (Munich, 1915; see also note 192, below.

18. Vita Sadalbergae 6, to (MGH Script. rer. mer. 5, 53, 55). She died shortly after the death of Waldabert of Luxeuil in 670. Her vita was probably composed in the first half of the ninth century, according to the editor. B. Krusch (ibid., 45). We know that she had dedicated herself to the service of God quite early in life, as soon as Eustachius cured her blindness: Ionas, Vitae sanctorum: Columbani 2.8 (MGH Script rer. mer. 4/2, 122). See also chapter 5, note 29.

19. Jane Tibbetts Schulenburg's conclusions indicate a similar pattern: "In the sixth century, women comprised slightly over eight per cent of the total number of saints . . . . With the seventh century there is a substantial increase in the number of women saints. Approximately 15% . . . were women. . . . For the first half of the [eighth] century the percentage reached 23.5%. . . . [In the ninth century] . . . only 15.7% are women." "Sexism and Celestial Gynaeceum, 500‑1200,"Journal of Medieval History, 3 (1978), 120, 122, 123.

20. The community at Riez, which Sidomus Apollinaris mentioned in his Carmina 16.84 (MGH Auct. ant. 8, 241), may have been among those that did not survive the invasions. On Riez, see also E. Griffe, La Gaulr chrétienne à l'époque romaine, Vol. 2 (Paris, 1966), 260-65, with an explanation of the Sidonius reference in note 5, p. 263.

21. Before the foundation of Saint Jean, Caesaria lived at Marseilles, in a nunnery established by Cassian; see Vitae Caesarii 35 (MGH Script. rer. mer. 3, 470).

22. Vila Romani 1.15 (MGH Script. rer. mer. 3, 140). Romanus died at the end of the fourth century; see F. Prinz, Fruhes Mdnchtum, pp. 23‑24. His life was composed in the sixth century; on its value as a source, sec K. Weber, "Kulturgeschichtliche Probleme der Merowingerzeit im Spiegel frühmittelalterlicher Heiligenleben," Sludien und Mitteilungen des Benediktinerordens and seiner Zweige, 48 (1930), 366‑375.

23. Vita Eugendi 5 (MGH Script. rer. mer. 3, 156): "monachas vero procul intra urbem monasterioque conseptas ultra sexagenario numero admirabile ordinatione rexit et aluit." It later became a Benedictine abbey; see

Cartulaire de l fl bb aye de Saint‑André‑le‑Bas de Vienne, ordre de Saint Benoit, ed. U. Chevalier (Vienne, 1869). A donation issued in 543 to another nun nery outside the city refers to this convent as the one where the donor'! sister, Eubonia, is abbess. See Pardessus 140 (vol. 1, 107), and note 28, below.

24. Vitae Caesarii 1, 35 (MGH Script. rer. mer. 3, 470)_ For further literature, see F. Benoit, "Topographie monastique d'Arles au vie siècle," Etudes mérovingiennes: Actes des Journees de Poitiers, 1952 (Paris, 1953), pp. 13‑17; idem, "Le premier baptistère d'Arles et l'Abbaye Saint‑Césaire," Cahiers archéologiques, 5 (1951), 3,_59; F. Prim, Frühes Mönchtum, p. 77, nn. 179‑181; and L. Ueding, Geschichte der Klostergrundungen des frühen Merowingerzeit (Historische Studien, 261; Berlin, 1935), PP‑ 56‑‑64.

25. Caesarius of Arles, Regula sanctarum virginum 39, 46, 64, in opera omnia, ed. G. Morin, Vol. 2 (Maredsous, 1942), 112, 114, 119.

26. Saint Radegund adopted Caesarius's Rule for the convent Clothar built for her; Gregory of Tours, Hist. franc. 9.39 (MGH Script. rer. mer. 1, 395), and Epistolae aevi mer. 11 (MGH Epist. 3, Mer. kar. aevi 1, 450‑453); also René Aigrain, "Le voyage de sainte Radegonde à Arles," Bulletin philologique et historique (1926‑27), 119‑127, Hope Mayo discusses various rules used in Frankish convents. See her "Three Merovingian Rules for Nuns" (Ph.D. dissertation, Harvard University, 1974). See also F. Prinz, Frühes Mönchtum, pp. 8o‑82, and note 106, below.

27. Aurelian founded Saint Mary of Arles around 548, incorporating many of

Caesarius's points into its rule. A combination of the two rules was adopted by Bishop Ferreolus of Uzès for Ferreolac. For further literature, see Ueding, Klöstergrundungen, p. 75; F. Prinz, Frühes Monchtum, p. 8o, n. 196; and Mayo "Three Merovingian Rules."

28. Pardessus 140 (vol. 1, 107). It was intended to serve as a burial convent with their daughter Remilia serving as abbess. According to Ado, Chronicon (MGH Script. 2, 317), the monastery was founded in 575 outside the walls. In the city there was another convent established by Leonian; Remilia was raised there. See also Gallia Christiana, vol. 16, 172, and note 23, above.

29. Gregory of Tours, Hist. franc. 9.35 (MGH Script. rer. mer. 1, 390).

3o. Gregory of Tours, Liber in gloria confessorum 16 (MGH Script. rer mer. 1,


31. René Metz, "Les vièrges chrétiennes en Gaul au ive siècle," in Saint

Martin et son temps (Studia Anselmiana, 46; Rome, 1961), pp. 109‑132; idem, "La consécration des vièrges en Gaul des origines à l'apparition des livres liturgiques," Revue de droit canonique, 6 (1956), 321‑339; idem, "La consécration des vièrges dans l'Église franque d'après la plus ancienne vie de Sainte Pusinne (VIII‑IXe siècle)," Revue des sciences religieuses, 35 (1961), 32‑48. For studies on professed widows, see below, note 58.

32. Nora Chadwick, in her Poetry and Letters in Early Christian Gaul, gives examples of married couples in

fourth-century Gaul renouncing sexual relations and dedicating their lives to divine service. Concerning virgins, see Metz's articles in the previous note.

33. Henry Neff Waldron, treated this form of religious life as the most common expression of lay conuersio. On the basis of conciliar admonitions addressed to women converts, Waldron concludes that "avowed widows and professed virgins living in their own homes were the most common of all forms of conversio" ("Expressions of Religious Conversion among Laymen Remaining within Secular Society in Gaul: 400‑800 A.D." [Ph.D. dissertation, Ohio State University, 19761, p. 338). He also notes that during the course of the eighth century male conversi abandoned tonsure, the outward mark of their conversio, and were no longer mentioned in ninth‑century sources. This was not the case for virgins and widows dedicated to the service of God.

34. One was a washerwoman, "quae sub specie religionis veste mutata, concepit et peperit." The other, Marcoveifa, "religiosa veste habens," became a queen. Hist. franc. 2.1; 4.26 (MGH Script. rer. mer. 1, 37, 157),

35. Gregory of Tours, Liber in gloria confessorum 33 (MGH Script. rer. mer. 1, 768).

36. Fortunatus, De vita sanctae Radegundis 1.2 (MGH Script. rer. mer. 2, 365‑366).

37. Gregory of Tours, Hist. franc. 2.43 (MGH Script. rer. mer. 1, 106): "Chrodechildis autem regina post mortem viri sui Turonus venit, ibique ad basilica Martini deserviens."

38. Gregory of Tours, Hist. franc. 9.33 (MGH Script. rer. mer. 1, 387): "in atrio sancti Martini."

39. Gregory of Tours, De virtutibus s. Martini. 1.17 (MGH Script. rer. mer. 1, 598): "In portam Ambiensi, in qua . . . oratorium a fidelibus est aedificatum, in quo nunc puellae religiosae deserviunt." See also Ueding, Klostergründungen, p. 129.

40. Gregory of Tours, Liber vitae patrum 9.2 (MGH Script. rer. mer. 1, 703). This nunnery grew up around the oratory built by Saint Patroclus. When he decided to withdraw to the woods, he left his cell to the virgins who had congregated there. See C. A. Bernouilli, Die Heiligen der Merowinger (Tübingen, 1900), pp. 99‑loo; Ueding, Klostergrundungen, pp. 16, 126.

41. Two donations, forged in the eleventh century, claim that it was founded by Clovis and Clotild for their daughter Theodechild: see Pardessus 64 (vol. 1, 34), 335 (Vol. 2, 112). See also M. Prou, Étude sur les chartes de fondation de lAbbaye de Saint‑Pierre‑le‑l'if (Paris, 1894), and H. Bouvier, "Histoire de Saint‑Pierre‑le‑Vif à Sens," Bulletin des sciences hist. et nat. de l'Yonne, 45 (1892), 1‑212. Ueding has argued that the cloister was founded by a Theudechild, the daughter of Queen Suavegotha, the wife of Theuderic I, Klostergründungen, pp. 198‑204. This Theudechild was the sister of Theudebert I (534‑548), rather than the daughter of Charibert, for whom Venantius Fortunatus composed an epitaph: Opera poetica (MGH Auct. ant. 4/1, 94). On the document listed in Pardessus as number 335, see Ewig, "Das Privileg," p. 92, nn. 48‑50.

42. Prinz identifies it with Saint Martin‑les‑Marien. See Frühes Monchtum, pp.


65‑66. See also J. Wollasch, "Das Patrimonium beati Germani in Auxerre," Studien and Vorarbeiten zur Geschichte des grossfrankischen‑ and frühdeutschen Adels, ed. G. Tellenbach (Freiburg, 1957), p. 188. According to René Louis, it was affiliated with Saint Cosmas‑Saint Damien, a male community, and the two formed a double monastery. See Autessiodurum christianum: les eglises d Auxerre des origines au XIme siècle (Paris, 1952), p. 16.

43. Gregory of Tours, Liber vitae patrum 19.2 (MGH Script. rer. mer. 1, 738): "Ibique paucas collegens monachas, cum fide integra et oratione degebat." According to Ueding, she died around 579 (Klostergrundungen, pp. 25‑26). F. Prinz has suggested that the Chartres community was organized according to the model of Saint Martin convents (Frühes Mönchtum, P‑ 37).

44. According to tradition, the first convent was at Aliscamps; see A. Malnory,

Saint Césaire, évêque d Arles 503 q3) (Bibl. de l'École des Hautes Études, Sciences Philol. et Hist., 103; Paris, 1894), pp. 257‑26o; L. A. Constans, Arles antique (Paris, 1941), pp. 357‑358; and the articles by F. Benoit, cited above, in note 24.

45. Gregory of Tours, Hist. franc. 4.26 (MGH Script. rer. mer. 1, 162).

46. Gregory of Tours, Liber in gloria confessorum 18 (MGH Script. rer. mer. 1,

757‑758) the two virgins were Maura and Britta.

47. Further research is needed on the proportion of male and female communities in the sixth century. Ueding (Klostergrundungen) listed fifty‑nine monasteries for men and seventeen for women. See also Ch. Higounet, "Le problème économique: L'Église et la vie rurale pendant le très haut moyen age," Le Chiese nei regni dell'Europa occidentale (Centro Italiano di Studi sull'Alto Medioevo: Settimana di studio, 7, 2; Spoleto, 196o), pp. 775‑804 Higounet noted that three‑fourths of the Merovingian monasteries were built in the country and one‑fourth in the cities. Ibid., p. 785. Jean Hubert argues against the prevailing view that monasteries grew around hermitages. On the contrary, hermitages were attached to monasteries to permit members to engage periodically in complete solitude. "L'Érémitisme et archéologie," in L 'Eremetismo in occidente nei secoli XI e XII (Milan, Univ. Catt. del Sacro Cuore, Contributi, Ser. 3, Var. 4; Studi medioevali: Misc. 4; Milan, 1965), pp. 469‑475­

48. See notes 11, 38‑39, 41‑43, above.

49. Gregory I, Registrum epistularum 13.7, 12 (MGH Epist. 2, 371‑372, 378-380). The second letter specified that the abbess was to be chosen by the king, with the consent of the nuns. Even though Autun did not emulate Arles in the election of the abbess, it had close relations with that convent. See F. Prinz, Frühes Mönchtum, p. 78.

50. Gregory of Tours, in his Hist. franc. 1o.8 (MGH Script. rer. mer. 1, 415), mentioned a convent at Lyons from



which Eulalius, count of Auvergne, had abducted a nun. Dedicated to Saint Peter, it was known as Sancti­

Petri‑Puellaris (Saint Pierre‑aux‑Nonnaines). Two donations that claim it was founded by King Gaudesil and his wife Teudelind are tenth and

twelfth century forgeries. See A. Coville, "La prétendue charte mérovingienne de Saint‑Pierre de Lyon," and "L'Eveque Aunemundus et son testament," in his Recherches sur l'histoire de Lyon du Ve au IXe siècle (450‑ (Paris, 1928), pp. 251‑266, and 366‑416. For the two donations, see Pardessus 196 (vol. 1, 156) and 324 (Vol. 2, 101‑102). The nunnery was in existence in the early ninth century: Bishop Leidradus of Lyons, in a letter to Charles the Great, dated 813, mentioned thirty‑two nuns living there under the Benedictine Rule, Epist. variorum Carolo Magno regnante scriptae 30 (MGH Epist. 4, Mer. kar. aevi 2, 543). According to Vita s. Boniti 37 (.SIGH Script. rer. mer. 6, 137), a woman called Dida was the abbess in 705.

51. The sixth‑century donations to Sancta Maria ` juxta muros" are all forgeries dating from the ninth century, according to Julien Havet, "Questions mérovingiennes VII: Les actes des évêques du Mans." Bibliothèque de l'École des Chartes 55 (1894), 5‑6o. See Pardessus, 108, 117, 128 (vol. 1, 72‑74; 80, 94‑95). Ueding (Klostergrundungen, p. 158) includes the convent among sixth‑century foundations.

52. On Arles, see above, notes 24 and 27; on Vienne, notes 23 and 27; on Tours, notes 38 and 43.

53. See above, note 40.

54‑ On Chelles, see below, note 82. On Notre‑Dame les Andelys, see Vita s. Chrothildis 1 1 (MGH Script. rer. mer. 2, 346). Bede mentioned Les Andelys among the Frankish convents to which English kings sent their daughters to be educated. Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum 3.8, ed. C. Plummer, vol. i (Oxford, 1896), 142. As F. Prinz has pointed out, Les Andelys was probably reorganized by Audoen of Rouen. See Frühes Monchtum, pp. 296‑297. See also Ph. Schmitz, Histoire, vol. 7, 19.

55. See chapter 6, notes 73‑75

56. Conc. Turonense 21 (20) (CCL 148A, 186), citing Codex Theod. 9.25.1 interpret. and 9.25.2 (Mommsen, vol. 1, 478‑479). added the comparison to the vestal virgins.

57. Conc. Aurelianense (538), 19 (16) (CCL 148A, 121). The Council of Orleans (549) • 19 (CCL 148A, 155) was somewhat more lenient, allowing absolution after suitable penance. Conc. Turonense 21 (2) (CCL í48A, 185) quoted directly from Innocent I, Epistola ad Victricium (Feb. 15, 404; PL 20, 475‑477; JK 286). The idea that a virgin's vow of chastity was a marriage pact with Christ was developed by Origen on the basis of the Cantica Canticorum and then popularized by Jerome in his Interpretatio Homil Origenis in Cant. Cant. 5‑6 (PL 23, 1180‑1 182). Waldemar Molinski traces primary and secondary sources in "Virginity," Sacramentum Mundi, ed. Karl Rahner S. J., vol. 6 (London, 1970), 333‑336 See also jean Gaudemet, "Saint Augustin et le manquement au voeu de virginité," Annales de la Faculté de Droit d Aix‑en‑Provence, Nouv. ser., 43 (1950), 135‑145

58. Conc. Turenense 21 (20) (CCL 148A, 187): "Illud vero, quod aliqui dicunt:

'vidua, quae benedicata non fuit, quare non debet maritum accipere?' " We need further research on the status of widows who had been received into the religious life. André Rosambert's La veuve en droit canonique needs to be corrected and brought up to date; see the scathing criticism of it by G. Le Bras in Revue des sciences religieuses, 6 (1926), 281‑288. René Metz emphasized that the "ordo viduarum" initially consisted of elderly widows who had been married only once and needed material assistance; it was slowly transformed into a group of women aspiring to lead a life of perfection. "La femme en droit canonique médiéval," p. 93. R. Gryson traced the process of assimilation between the order of widows and the order of virgins, which began with the imposition of the same habit by the first Council of Toledo, g (Bruns 1, 205). Le ministère, pp. 164‑169. Despite the assimilation of the juridical status and function of professed virgins and widows, widows were not eligible for the solemn liturgical rite of consecration; the Council of Orange in 441 deprived widows of the right to receive benediction at the time of their profession. It specified that the bishop was to hand a widow "vestis vidualis," not before the altar, but in the "secretarium," the room where bishops received the faithful and arbitrated conflicts. Conc. Arausicanum 26 (CCL 148, 85). The so‑called Sacramentarium Gelasianum, copied at Chelles shortly before 750, made a distinction between the "Consecratio sacrae virginis" and "Benedictio viduae." God accepted the former as a bride, but granted only consolation to the latter (Liber sacramentorum, pp. 123‑125, 213). On the basis of a twelfthcentury ordo for the veiling of widows, which was derived from an eighth century ordo, Ann E. Mather concluded that "the veiling of a virgin was the marriage of a woman to Christ, whereas a widow, whether or not her husband was dead, offered herself to religious life in the church within the contract that bound her to her husband" ("A Twelfth Century Ordo for the Veiling of Widows," paper read at the Third Berkshire Conference on the History of Women; June, 1976). On the consecration of virgins, see the articles by René Metz cited in note 31.

59. Conc. Parisiense (556‑573), 5 (CCL 148A, 187); Cone. Matisconense (581583), 12 (CCL 148A, 226).

60. Chlotharii I regis constitutio 7 (MGH Leg. 1, 2).

61. Baudonivia, De vita s. Radegundis 6‑7 (NIGH Script. rer. mer. 2, 382).

62. Conc. Parisiense (614): Edictum Clotarii H, 18 (CCL 148A, 285).

63. Florentius, Vita s. Rusticulae 3 (MGH Script. rer. mer. 4, 341). On the value of her biography, see Riche, "Note d'hagiographie mérovingienne: La Vita s. Rusticulae," pp. 369‑377.

64. See note 12, above.

65. Lex Bai. 1.11 (,SIGH Legum Sectio I, 5/2, 283‑284).

66. Conc. Clippiacense (626‑627), 26 (CCL 148A, 296): "neque per auctoritatem regiam neque per quacumque potestate suffultus."

67. Conc. Latunense (673‑675), 12‑13 (CCL 148A, 316).

68. Vita Sadalbergae 8 (MGH Script. rer. mer‑ 5, 54

69. For a bibliography of secondary sources and for the controversy whether Colomban arrived around 570 or 590, see F. Prinz, Frühes Mönchtum, p. 121, nn. 1‑3.

70. Ionas, Vitae sanctorum: Columbani 1.20 (SIGH Script rer. germ. in usu schol. 197)

71. For example, Ionas, in his Vitae sanctorum: Columbani 1.26 (MGH Script. rer. germ. in usu schol. 209), mentioned that the matron Aiga brought her children "ad benedicendum viro Dei." He consecrated them with his benediction, "videns . . . matris fidem." Her oldest son, Ado, and her second son, Iotrus, built Jouarre; her third son, Dado, built Rebais.

72. Ionas, Vitae sanctorum: Columbani 1.14 (NIGH Script. rer. germ. in usu schol. 176).

73. Mary Bateson's Origin and Early History of Double Monasteries needs to be revised in view of modern scholarship. In particular, her thesis that there were double monasteries in Ireland must be reexamined. Ferdinand Hilpisch's study, Die Doppelklöster, Entstehung and Organization, suffers from the author's reluctance to admit that some of the Frankish double monasteries developed around nunneries, with the female community serving as the spiritually and economically sustaining element. He rejects the possibility of any insular influence and argues that Frankish double monasteries were modeled on Eastern institutions, where nuns lived as parasites upon the monks. M. Heinrich summarized the scholarly controversy about double monasteries in Ireland, pointing out that: "The Irish were favorable to it on the continent, but in Ireland only Kildare existed without question." Canonesses and Education, p. 62. On double monasteries in seventhcentury England, see Joan Nicholson, "Feminae gloriosae: Women in the Age of Bede," in Medieval Women, ed. in honor of Rosalind M. T. Hill (Studies in Church History; Subsidia 1; Oxford, 1978), pp. 15‑2g.

74. Waldebert, Regula cuiusdam patris ad virgines 12 (PL 88, 1o64; Holstenius 1, 400). For a bibliography on Waldebert's authorship, see F. Prinz, Fruhes Monchtum, pp. 81, n. 205, 286, n. 97.

75. Ionas, Vitae sanctorum: Columbani 1.26; 2.7 (NIGH Script. rer. germ. in usu schol. 204, 243). Her father, Chagneric, was one of the great officials under Theudebert of Austrasia: "vir sapiens et consiliis regiis gratus." Her mother, Leudegunda, was a noble woman. See F. Prinz, Frühes Mönchtum, p. 81. O'Carrol claims Burgundofara was twelve or thirteen when Columban visited her parents ("Sainte Fare et les origmes," p. 5). Ionas refers to her as "infra infantiae annis," which means that she had not reached twelve or thirteen, the age of adolescence. The so‑called privilege of Saint Faro (Burgundofaro), Burgundofara's brother, is a later forgery, probably drawn up in the twelfth century. See Pardessus 226 (vol. 1, 193). It is contained in two manuscripts: Paris, Bibl. Nat. 928, fols. 56‑58; Paris, Bibl. Sainte Genevieve 358, fols. 2 1‑22; see Gougaud, Les chrétientés celtiques, p. 146. The authenticity of Burgundofara's testament, on the other hand, has been vindicated by its latest editor: Jean Guerout, "Le testament de Sainte‑Fare," Revue d'histoire ecclesiastique, 6o (1965), 761‑821. See Pardessus 257 (vol. 2, pp. 15‑17). On the two manuscript collections containing these and other documents, see Jacqueline Le Bras‑Tremenbert, "Les cartulaires de Faremoutiers," Sainte Fare et Faremoutiers (L'Abbaye de Faremoutiers, 1956), pp. 175213. Faremoutiers became a famous center of learning under Queen Balthild's patronage: ['ita s. Balthildis 8 (MGH Script. rer. mer. 2, 493). It was praised by the Venerable Bede, in Historia ecclesiastica 3.8.

76. Hlawitschka, Studien, p. 38, and Liber memorialis yon Remiremont (MGH Libri mem. 1, ix).

77. Vita Filiberti 22 (.'SIGH Script. rer. mer. 5, 595). See also Vacandard, fie de Saint Ouen, p. tog. Hilpisch classified Pavilly ‑Jumièges as neighboring convents, not as a double monastery (Die Doppelklöster, p. 34). A similar type of affiliation existed between Pellemontier‑Montiérender and Fécamp‑Saint Wandrille, according to Hilpisch (ibid., pp. 33‑34)F. Prinz argued that Logium, rather than Fécamp, constituted the female counterpart of Saint Wandrille Fruhes Monchtum, p. 128).

78. "Tantôt et le plus souvent, les moniales sont sujettes à la jurisdiction de l'abbaye des hommes." Schmitz, Histoire, vol. 1, p. 322.

79. On the transfer of Dorniaticum to Waldelen, see Pardessus 328 (Vol. 2, toy‑lo6). Subsequently, in 666, even Bèze was devastated, perhaps by the same group that threatened Dorniaticum; on this, see Pardessus 348, 356 (Vol. 2, 131, 141). For secondary literature, see F. Prinz, Fruhes Monchtum, p. 281.

80. Vita Sadalbergae 17 (MGH Script. rer. mer. 5, 5g): "in eodem loco sunt vel monasterio adunatae plus minusve trecentae famulae Christi; illisque dispositis per turmas, ad instar Agaunensium monachorum Habendique normam disposuit; die ac nocte praecepit psallendi canonem omnipotenti." The "laus perennis" was introduced to Remiremont by Amatus, who was a monk at Agaunum before he was invited by Eustachius to join Remiremont. According to Hilpisch, Salaberga was educated at Remiremont (Die Doppelklöster, p. 38). Salaberga was in contact with Eustachius, who cured her of blindness, according to Vita Sadalbergae 4 (NIGH Script. rer. mer. 5, 53). The passage was excerpted from Ionas, Vitae sanctorum: Columbani 2.8 (MGH Script. rer. germ. in usu schol. 244‑245) On Laon, see A. Malnory, Quid Luxovienses monachi, discipuli s. Columbani, ad regulam monasteriorum atque ad communem ecclesiae profectum contulerunt (Paris, 1894), p. 29.

81. Dom Y. Chaussy et al., eds., L Abbaye royale Notre‑Dame de Jouarre (Paris, 1961); Marquise Aliette de Rohan‑Chabot Maillé, Les cryptes de Jouarre (Paris, 1971).

82. Gregory of Tours, in his Hist. franc. 5.39; 6.46; 8.4; lo. 19 (MGH Script. rer. mer. 1, 231, 286, 293, 433).

mentioned the existence of a royal vilaa at Cala, with a "coenobiolum virginum" established there by Queen Clotild, wife of Clovis. On its reconstruction by Balthild, see Fita s. Balthildis A 7, 18 (.NIGH Script. rer. mer. 2, 489, 5o6). On Balthild's monastic foundations, see Ewig, "Das Privileg," pp. rob‑i i r. As Henri I.évy‑Bruhl, has pointed out, in the Merovingian period the founder chose the constitution of the monastery and nominated the superior as well. Etude sur les élections abbatiales en France jusqu'à la fin du règne de Charles de Chauve (Paris, 1913), p. 42. Thus, at Corbie, her other foundation for males, Balthild installed Theudefrid, a monk from Luxeuil. There are no modern studies on Chelles. Mare Bloch has listed and criticized earlier studies in his "Notes sur les sources d'histoire de l'Ile‑de‑France au Moyen Age I: Les archives et cartulaires de l'Abbaye de Chelles," Bulletin de la Société de l'Histoire de Paris et de l'lle‑de‑France, 40 (1913), 145‑164. The Vita s. Balthildis 15 (MGH Script. rer. mer. 2, 502) mentioned the presence of "sacerdotes" only at the time of Balthild's death. The Vita Bertilae, composed in the late eighth century, more than once refers to the presence of monks. For a summary of this issue, see the introduction by Levison (.NIGH Script. rer. mer. 6, g7‑98), and chapter 8, notes 51‑55.

83. Hoebanx, L'Abbaye de Nivelles, pp. 45‑53

84. The two charters by Aldegund in Pardessus (338‑339 ßs'01. 2, 116‑118]) are forgeries; see Paul Bonenfant, "Note critique sur le prétendu testament de sainte Aldegonde," Académie Royale de Belgique: Bulletin de la Commission Royale d'Histoire, 98 (1934), 219‑238. On the other hand, the value of her life, Vita .‑lldegundis (MGH Script. rer. mer. 6, 79‑90), has been vindicated by Van der Essen, Etude critique, pp. 219‑231, and Moreau, Histoire de l"Eglise, Vol. 1, 121. Moreau suggests that Saint Amand may have helped with the foundation of Maubeuge (ibid., p. 381). See also J. Becquet, "Nouveau dépouillement du `Monasticon Benedictinum,' " Revue Benedictine, 73 (1963), 332.

85. According to Vita s. Rictrudis 2.16 (Acta sanctorurn Belgii selecta 4, 496), written by Hucbald of Saint Amand in 907, Rictrud built Marchiennes with Amand's help and had Ionas as her coabbot; the latter is not to be confused with Ionas of Bobbio, according to F. Prinz (Frühes Monchtum, P. 273• n‑ 30). See also Hucbald, Vita s. Jonati (,,IS r. Aug.; 1, 75). On the value of Saint Rictrud's vita as a historical source, see Van der Essen, Etude critique, pp. 260‑268; Moreau, Histoire de l'Église, vol. 1, 245, and his Saint Amand, apôtre de la Belgique et du Nord de la France (Louvain, 1927), pp. 224‑227; and Hilpisch, Die Doppelklöster, p. 40.

86. Jules Dewez, Histoire de lAbbaye de St. Pierre d'Hasnon (Lille, r 89o); Becquet, "Monasticon Benedictinum," p. 331.

87. Pardessus 355 (Vol. 2, 138‑141), issued by Drauscius, Bishop of Soissons, granted free election of the abbess and referred to "Ebroinus majordomus, ejusque inlustris matrona Leutrudis, et eorum unicus dilectissimus filius Bovo" as the founders and to Etheria as the abbess. A letter of Bishop Leodegar to Sigrada, written in 688,


Epist. Aevi crier. 17 (.11(;H Epist. 3, Mer. kar. aevi 1, 466), referred to "omnes fratres sanctos, qui cuotidie pro to orant," and "sorores sanctas quarum consortium frueris." See also J. Fischer, Das Hausmeier Ebroin, p. 109.

88. Moreau, Histoire de l'Eglise, vol. 1 , 1 77. According to Hucbald, ['ita s. Rictrudis 9 (Acta sanctorum: Belgii selecta 4, 492), it was founded by Gertrud, whose grandson Adalbald married Saint Rictrud. It was a double monastery by the ninth century and closely associated with Marchiennes, as the instruction of Charles the Bald, namely, that the monks and nuns of Hamaye were to receive a share of the wine produced by the villa of Vregny belonging to the Abbey of Marchiennes, indicates. Georges Tessier, Recued des Actes de Charles II, le Chauve, roi de France 435, Vol. 2, (Chartes et diplornes relatifs A l'histoire de France, 8, no. 2, 9‑1o; Paris, 1943‑45) 473‑474

89. Becquet, "Monasticon Benedictinum," p. 327. It was founded around 660 by Bertha, wife of Gendebert, mayor of the palace and the brother of Nivard of Reims. On the latter, see Fita Nivardi (MGH Script. rer. mer. 5, 157‑171). By the ninth century it had as members forty nuns and twenty clerks; see Flodoard, Historia ecclesiae Remensis 3.27 (.NIGH Script. 13, 549) . See also jean Verdon, "Notes sur le rôle économique des monasteres féminins en France dans la second moitié du IXe et au &but du Xe siècle," Revue Mabillon, 58 (1975), 332.

go. F. Prinz, Frühes Monchtum, p. 158.

91. Remiremont and Bèze in the area around Luxeuil; Faremoutiers, Jouarre, Chelles, Soissons, and Laon between the Seine and the Somme; Maubeuge, Marchiennes, Nivelles, Hasnon, and Hamaye between the Somme and the Meuse. Among double monasteries it is possible to include Saint Jean and Saint Mary of Arles, and Holy Cross and Saint Radegonde of Poitiers.

92. Higounet, "Le problème économique," pp. 775‑804. Jean Hubert estimated the number of seventh‑century monastic foundations in Gaul at about two hundred (see "L'Eremitisme et archéologie," p. 473). In comparison to this figure, the number of double monasteries is very small.

93. Pavilly ‑Jumièges and Fécamp‑St. Wandrille; see note 77, above.

94. Hans‑Walter Hermann, "Zum Stande der Erforschung der früh‑ and hochmittelalterlichen Geschichte des Bistums Metz," Rheinische Vierte ljahrsblàtter, 28 (1963), 164.

95. Eligius, bishop of Noyon, founded one, according to Vita s. Eligii 2.5 (MGH Script. rer. mer. 4, 697); his goddaughter, Godeberta, built another: Fita s. Godeberthae (.4S 11 Aprilii; 2, 33).

96. Passio s. Praeiecti episcopi 15 (.11611 Script. rer. mer. 5, 235), See also Verdon, "Recherches," p. 125.

97. Berthoara built one under the episcopate of Austregisil; see Ionas, Vitae sanctorum: Columbani 2.10 (MGH Script. rer. mer. 4/1, 128); Vita Austrigisili 1 o (MGH Script. rer. mer. 4, 1 g7); 1 Mellot, "Les fondations colom­

baniennes clans le diocèse de Bourges," .'Mélanges Columbaniens: Actes du Congrès International de Luxeuil, a0‑a3 juillet 1950 (Paris, 1951), 1T 208‑Zit. Later, Saint Eustadiola founded another community women, according to Vita s. Eustadiolae 3 (AS 8 Iunii; 2, 132).

98. See Ewig, "Kirche and Civitas in der Merowingerzeit," in Le Chiese nei regne i dell'Europa occidentale (Centro Italiano di Studi sull'Alto Medioevo; Scitimana di Studio, 7, t; Spoleto, 1960), pp. 45‑71.

99. On the number of nuns at Laon, see Vita Sadalbergae 17 (MGH Script. rer mer. 5, 5g), quoted above note 8o. On Remiremont, see note 76. ‑I'hc number of inhabitants at Pavilly is mentioned in Vita s. Austrebertae i;~ (AS 10 Feb.; 2, 422).

100. See, for example, the exemption granted by Bishop Drauscius for Soissons in 666: Pardessus 355 (Vol. 2, 138‑141). Ewig has pointed out that the same wording appears in the privilege issued for Saint Pierre‑le‑Vif of Sens ("Das Privileg," p. g3). See Pardessus 335 (Vol. 2, t t 2). Moreover. the Soissons privilege is related to those issued for Saint Denis, Sithiu (Saint Omer), Corbie, and Rebais. For a bibliography of secondan works on proprietary rights exercised over monasteries, see Ph. Schmitz, Histoire, vol. i, p. 89, n. 1.

101.    See above, notes 72 and 97.

102.    Even the larger houses were aristocratic homes adapted to communal living. Jean Hubert, refers to several studies that demonstrate that the first monasteries constructed for the specific purpose of communal living with a chapter house, refectory, dormitory, and outbuildings, appeared only in the eighth century. "L'Erémitisme et archèologie," p. 474, in particular, n. 32‑34.

103. Epist. aevi mer. coll. 17 (.SIGH Epist. 3, Mer. et kar. aevi 1, 466).

104. Waldebert, Regula cuiusdam patris ad virgines 23 (PL 88, 1070).

105. Ibid. 21 (PL 88, 1068C).

106. On the rules observed, see H. Mayo, "Three Merovingian Rules for Nuns"; F. Prinz, Frühes Monchtum, pp. 121‑151; Ph. Schmitz, Histoire, vol. 7, pp. 13‑18; L. Gougaud, "Inventaires des règles monastiques irlandaises," Revue Bénédictine, 25 (1908), 329‑331; T. P. McLaughlin. Le très ancien droit monastique de l'Occident; J. Heineken, Die Anfänge, p. 103.

107. Waldebert, Regula cuiusdam patris ad virgines 17 (PL 88, ío65).

108. See chapter 8, notes 20‑21, 23, 35‑39; Waldebert, Regula cuiusdam patris ad virgines t‑4 (PL 88, 1054‑1057). 109. Waldebert, Regula cuiusdam patris ad virgines 24 (PL 88, 1070).

110. For example, Gregory of Tours, in Hist. franc. 6.29 (MIGH Script. rer. mer. 1, 268), related that a nun at Holy Cross of Poitiers decided to become a recluse. She was assigned a special cell, which was walled up. Before she entered the cell, she said farewell to all, kissing each one of her sisters.

111. Vita s. Eustadiolae 3 (AS 8 Iunii; 2, 132).

112. Vita s. Balthildis 9 (MGH Script. rer. mer. 2, 494).

113. Caesarius, Regula sanctarum virginum 61, ed. G. Morin (Florilegium patristicum, 34; Bonn, 1933), p, 20 (PL 67, 1 105); Aurelian, Regula ad virgines 13 (PL 68, 40 t; Holstenius t, 371). The Benedictine Rule assumed that both nobles and poor people would offer their sons to monastic life;

Regula Benedict 59 Holstenius 1, 132). On Leubovera, see Gregory of Tours, Hist. franc. to. t 5‑t 7 (MGH Script. rer. mer, t, 423‑430) .

114. The Council of Herstal, held in 779, ordered that ‑sancti moniales" and the men with whom they committed fornication or adultery were to be placed in monasteries and their property used as an entrance fee. If they were paupers and did not have property "qualiter in monasterio vivant," they were to be turned over to the care and supervision of their nearest relative; Conc. Harist Capit. 18 (MGH Capit. t, 46). Collectio Sangallensis (ca. 870), 6 (MGH Form. 400) is a donation to a monastery for the explicit purpose "ut filius vel filia . . . in congregatione suscipiatur." See also Cartae Senonicae 31 (MGH Form. t 99).

115. Baudonivia, De vita s. Radegundis 12 (MGH Script. rer. mer. 2, 385‑386).

116. De vita s. Radegundis 16 (load‑, 388‑389). Baudonivia recounted the difficulties Radegund encountered with the local bishop when she adopted Caesarius's Rule, exempting the convent from episcopal jurisdiction.

117. Conc. Germ. (742), 6 (MGH Cone. 2, 4).

118. On Saint Boniface, see Theodor Schieffer, Winfrid‑Bonifatius and die christiche Grundlegung Europas (Freiburg i. B., 1954), and Angelsachsen and Franken (Akademie der Wissenschaften and der Literature, Mainz; Abhandlungen der geistes‑ and sozialwissenschaftlichen Klasse, 20; Wiesbaden, 1950). On the Anglo‑Saxon missionaries in general, Wilhelm Levison, England and the Continent in the Eighth Century, 2d ed. (Oxford, 1950), and Aus rheinischer and fränkischer Frühzeit (Düsseldorf, 1948). See also C. Wampach, Sankt Willibrord: Sein Leben and Lebenswerk (Luxembourg, 1953),

119. See Brühl, Fodrum, pp. 26‑30, 50‑52, 102‑105 and notes 173 and 185 below.

120. For example, St. Boniface asked Begga to send him works on the lives of martyrs and thanked her for money and vestments. Die Brièfe, 15 ed. Tangl, p. 27. From Eadburga he requested an illuminated copy of

Peter's Epistles and thanked her for some unidentified books. Ibid. 30, 35, PP‑ 54, 6o.

121. For example, in his letter to Begga, Saint Boniface referred to monks and nuns as "omnes milites Christi utriusque sexus." Die Bnefe 94, ed. Tangl, p. 2 t 5.

122. Only Pope Zachary's reply is extant (Nov. 4, 751); "Nam et hoc inquisivit fraternitas tua, si liceat sanctimoniales feminas quemadmodum viri sibi invicem pedes abluere tam in cena Domini quamque in aliis diebus. Hoc dominicum perceptum est .... Etenim viri et mulieres unum Dominum habemus." Boniface, Die Briefe 87, ed. Tangl, p. 198.

123. Boniface, Die Briefe 128, ed. Tangl, pp. 265‑266. Conc. Ver. (755) 5 (MGH Cap. 2, 34).

124. Conc. Germ. 7 (MGH Conc. 2, 4): "Et ut monachi et ancille Dei monasteriales iuxta regulam sancti Benedicti ordinare et vivere, vitam propriam gubernare, studeant." On Boniface's presence at this council, see de Clercq La législation, vol. 1, 1 17. The same provision was made for monks alone in 743 by the Conc. Liftinense 1 (MGH Conc. 2, 7); in 744 the Synod of Soissons required "stability according to the holy rule" on the part of both monks and nuns: Conc. Suess‑ 3 (MGH Conc. 2, 34). The observance of the Rule was extended to Bavarian monasteries by the Conc. Asch. (756) 8 (MGH Conc. 2, 58).

125. Conc. Vernense 6 (MGH Cap. 1, 34).

126. Conc. Vernense 11 (ibid., 35).

127. Eugen Emig, "Beobachtungen zur Entwicklung der fränkischen Reichskirche unter Chrodegang von Metz," Frühmittelalterliche Studien, 2 (1968), 67‑77. On the date of the Rule's composition (after 751 and before 766), see de Clercq, La législation, vol. 1, 146‑155, in particular, 146, n. 3, for editions and bibliography.

128. Conc. Cabil. 43‑56 (MGH Conc. 2, 284‑285).

129. Conc. Franc. 17 (MGH Conc. 2, 171); see also Conc. Risp. Fris. Salis. (8oo), 2 (MGH Conc. 2, 207); Conc. Mog. 13 (MGH Conc. 2, 264); Capit. missorum spec. (ca. 802), 34‑35 (MGH Capit. 1, 103).

130. See above, notes 67 and 125. Waldron surveyed the external signs of conversion, concluding that vows, change of habits, and veiling took many forms and were often privately administered without the presence of a priest or bishop. But, in the eighth century, the councils began to regulate these ceremonies, insisting upon veiling as the outward form of conversio. "Expressions of Religious Conversion," pp. 196‑207, 2t8‑225, 235‑246.

131. Capit. missorum (ca. 802) 19 (.'SIGH Capit. 1, 103). This did not mean that parents could not offer their children as oblates; see Capit. eccl. ad Salz (804), 6 (MGH Capii. 1, 119).

132. Conc. Foroiuliense (796‑797), 11 (NIGH Conc. 2, 193): "ob continentiae signum nigram vestem quasi religiosam . . . licet non sint a sacerdote sacratae, in hoc tamen proposito eas perpetim perseverare mandamus." See also, Capit. Francicum (779), 18 (MGH Capit. 2, 38). See Catherine Capelle, Le voeu d'obéissance des origines au XIIe siècle (Bibliothèque d'histoire du droit et du droit romaine, 2; Paris, 1959). Capelle discussed the usage of the term vow in patristic and early medieval sources, arguing that the promise of chastity by monks, nuns, and consecrated virgins did not constitute a vow in the strict, juridical sense of the word until the end of the eighth century. Until that time it resembled the promise of chastity given by candidates for ordination to the subdiaconate and higher offices. On the latter, see L. Hertling, "Die Professio der Kleriker and die Entstehung der drei Gelübde," Zeitschrift für katholische Theologie, 56 (1932), 148‑174

133. Conc. Parisiense (829), 40‑43 (NIGH Conc. 2, 637‑638).

134. Conc. Parisiense (829), 45 (ibid. 2, 639). For its precedent, see Syn. Dioc. Autiss. (561‑605), 36‑37, 42 (CCL 148A, 269‑270). Conc. Laodicense 44 (Mansi 2, 581) and Gelasius, Epist. g, Decr. 26 (PL 59, 48; JK 636) served as the sources for this misogynist legislation.

135. On new foundations in the Carolingian period, see Heineken, Die Anfange.

136. For a quick summary of this policy, see Karl Siepen, Vermogensrecht der klosterlichen Verbdnde (Paderborn, 1963), pp. 16‑21. Dom Schmitz advanced the view that the concept of the "abbatia" was born during the reign of Charlemagne. This meant that the monastery was held as a benefice from the king, with a certain part of the domain set aside for the support of the community and the rest distributed as fiefs. Histoire, vol. 1, p. 98.

137. Duplex legationis edictum 19 (MGH Capit. 1, 6g).

138. Capit. ab episcopis in placito tractanda (829) 4 (MHG Capit. 2, 7).

139. Epist. Fuldensium fragmenta 6 (MGH Epist. 5, Kar. aevi 3, 518).

140. Conc. Cabil 43‑56 (MGH Conc. 2, 284‑285); see in particular article 53, which referred to "sanctimoniales quae se canonicas vocant."

141. Inst. sand. 18 (MGH Conc. 2, 449): "quanto enim idem sexus fragilior esse dinoscitur, tanto necesse est maiorem erga eum custodiam adhiberi."

142. Conc. Aquis. 1 15 (MGH Conc. 2, 397).

143. Inst. sanct. 8 (.SIGH Conc. 2, 444): "committat eas . . . aut propinquo aut alio . . . amico, qui eas iure fori defendat."

144. Inst. sand. 27 (ibid., 455): "Sanctimoniales namque velo ante posito

. . . horas canonicas et missarum sollemnia celebrent."

145. Even their contact with priests was to be limited‑they could make confession only within sight of their sisters: Inst. sand. 27 (ibid., 455).

146. Inst. sand. 18 (ibid., 451).

147. Inst. sand. 20 (ibid., 451).

148. Conc. Vernense (755), 6 (MGH Capii. 1, 34).

149. Duplex legationis edictum (789), 19 (MGH Capit. 1, 63); Cone. Risp. Fris. Solis. (8oo), 27 (MGH Conc. 2, 210); Conc. Cab. (813), 57, 62 (MGH Conc. 2, 284, 285); Cone. Mog. (813), 13 (MGH Conc. 2, 264); Conc. Turonense (813), 30 (MGH Conc. 2, 290); Conc. Mog. (847), 16 (HIGH Capit. 2, 180). These documents specified that an abbess could leave her monastery only with her bishop's permission, or if summoned by the king. One of the difficulties in keeping women religious cloistered was the lack of suitable buildings. Recent archaeological excavations have shown that, prior to the mid‑eighth century, female communities were housed in structures that did not differ in any way from private homes and therefore lacked enclosed areas. On this, see Hubert, "L'Eremitisme et archeologie," p. 474. Charlemagne, in his Capit. miss. spec. (ca 802), 35 (MGH Capit. 1, 103), ordered abbesses to house members of their community in "claustra . . . ordinabiliter composita." In a similar vein, Conc. Mog. (847), 16 (MGH Capit. 2, 18o) charged the abbesses with the duty of "aedificando ea, quae ad santimomalium necessitatem pertinent et in restaurando."

150. Conc. Foroiuliense 12 (MGH Conc. 2, 194).

151. See number 78 in Die Bnefe, ed. Tangl, p. 16g. See also numbers 8, 14, and 27.

152. Conc. Risp. Fris. Salis. (800), 28 (MGH Conc. 2, 21 1): "ut sanctae moniales non induantur virilia indumenta. . ." Conc. Aquis. (816), 130 (MGH Conc. 2, 405): "sicut enim turpe est virum vestem muliebrem et mulierem vestem virilem induere."

153. Conc. Foroiuliense (796‑797), 12 (MGH Conc. 2, 194); Cone. Cab. (813), 60 (MGH Conc. 2, 285); Conc. Parisiense (820), 46 (MGH Conc. 2, 640).

154. Capitula eccl. ad Salz data (803‑804), 7 (MGH Capit. 1, 1 19 "nullus masculum filium ant nepotem vet parentem suum in monasterio puellarum ant nutriendum commendare praesumat, nec quisquam illum suscipere audeat."

155. Inst. sanct. 18 (MGH Conc. 2, 455): "iuxta ecclesiam . . . sit hospitale pauperum . . ."

156. See the legislation cited in note 149, above.

157. Admonitio generalis (789), 76 (MGH Capit. 1, 6o): "abbatissas contra morem sanctae Dei ecclesiae benedictionis cum matins impositione et signaculo sanctae crucis super capita virorum dare, necnon et velare virgines cum benedictione sacerdotali quod omnino vobis . . . interdicendum esse scitote." Repeated verbatim in Ansegesi capit. 1.71 (.SIGH Capit. 1, 404). See also the prohibition against veiling virgins and widows without a bishop's sanction, pronounced by the Council of Paris (829), cited in note 133.

158. Translatio s. Baltechildis (MGH Script. 15/1, 285), composed in 833, refers to the "clerus tam virorum quam feminarum" at Chelles.

159. Conc. Risp. Fris. Salis. 22 (.NIGH Conc. 2, 210): "Ut liceat sanctimonialem signum ecclesiae pulsate et lumen accendere."

160. Conc. Alog. (847), 16 (MGH Capit. 2, 180): "Sanctimoniales vero in monasterio constitutae habeant studium in legendo et in cantando, in psallmorum caelebratione sive oratione. Et horas canonicas . . . pariter celebrent."

161. Inst. sand. 28 (MGH Conc. 2, 455). Although the hospice for the poor had to be located outside the convent (see above n. 155), there was to be a room within the monastery for receiving and feeding widows and poor women.

162. Inst. sand. 22 (ibid., 452): "puellae, quae in monasteriis erudiuntur, cum omni pietatis affectu et vigilantissimae curae studio nutriantur . . ."

163. The best accounts of monastic reforms carried out under Louis the Pious and led by Benedict Aniam are J. Koscheck, Die Klosterreform Ludwigs des Fr. im Verhaltnis zur Regel Benedikts von Nursia (Greifswald, 1908); J. Semmler, "Reichsidee and kirchliche Gesetzgebung bei Ludwig dem Frommen," Zeitschrift fur Kirchengeschichte, 71 1960), 37‑65; and idem, "Zur Uberlieferung der monastischen Gesetzgebung Ludwigs des Frommen," Deutsches Archiv, 16 (1960), 309‑388. See also J. Narberhaus,Benedikt von Aniane, Werk and Persönlichkeit (Munster, 1930); Suzanne Dulcy, La Règle de Saint Benoit d Aniane et la réforme monastique à l époque carolingienne (Nimes, 1935); and J. Semmler, Benedikt von Aniane (Mannheim, 1971).

164. Emile Lesne, "Les ordonnances de Louis de Pieux," Revue d'histoire de l'Eglise de France, 6 (1920), 490‑493; Kassius Hallinger, ed., Corpus consuetudinum monasticarum, vol. 1 (Siegburg, 1963), pp. 493‑499. The five nunneries were Notre‑Dame at Soissons, Baume‑les‑Dames in the diocese of Besançon, Swarzach at Würzburg, Holy Cross at Poitiers, and Notre‑Dame at Limoges. This list did not mention Benedictine monasteries that were in the hands of bishops and lay proprietors.

165. E. Hlawitschka, "Zur Klosterverlegung and zur Annahme der Benediktsregel in Remiremont," Zeitschrift fur die Geschichte des Oberrheins, 1 09 (1961), 249‑269.

166. W. Levison ("Recension: Schäfer," p. 491), demonstrated that "monasterium, coenobium, claustrum, ancillae Dei, Deo sacratae, sanctimoniales, sorores, virgines" were generic terms used to designate both types of houses and their inhabitants. For criticism of Schäfer's thesis with respect to Germany, see Heineken, Die Anfänge, p. 1 13.

167. A. Werminghoff, "Die Beschlüsse des Aachener Conzils im jahre 816," News Archiv, 27 (l go l), 634, n. 7.

168. Gesta Alderici 44 (MGH Script. 15, 324).

167. See note 158, above.

170. Capit. de monasterio s. Crucis Pictavensi (822‑824), 6‑7 (MGH Capit. 1, 302).

171. Bouquet (Recueil, vol. 8, 641‑642) lists a donation by Charles the Bald dated 872, that refers to nuns and priests and deacons. See also Tessier, Recueil 197, vol. 1, 509; 494, 499. Vol. 2, 655, 656. These documents are classified as forgeries from the early eleventh century. Cf. Verdon, "Notes," p. 331.

172. On female saints in ninth‑century Saxony, see Stoeckle, Studien. PP. 56‑87. On Saint Liutberga in particular, see chapter 5, note 13, and note 192, below.

173. For a list of Carolingian princesses and queens holding abbeys, see Emile Lesne, Histoire de la propriété ecclésiastique en France, Vol. 2, pt. 2 (Fac. Cath. de Lille, Mémoires et travaux, 3o; Lille, 1926), 168; and Karl Voigt, Die karolingische Klosterpolitik and der Niedergang des westfränkischen Konigtums, Laienäbte and Klosterinhaber (Kirchenrechtliche Abhandlungen, go‑91; Stuttgart, 1917), pp. 39‑43

174. Einhard, Vita Caroli 19 (.'NIGH Script. 2, 454). Nithard, in Historiarum 1.2 (MGH Script. 2, 651), wrote that Louis the Pious "sorores suas . . . instanter a palatio ad sua monasteria abire praecepit."

175. Translatio s. Baltechildis 1 (HIGH Script. 15/1, 284).

176. On May 12, 889, she was addressed as "famula Christi." See J. F. Bohmer, Die Regesten des Katserreichs unter der Karolingern, 751‑8, new ed. Mühlbacher (Regesta imperii, 1; Innsbruck, 1889), document 1816 (1767).

177. Vita Hludowici 44 (MGH Script. 2, 633).

178. Flodoard, Historia ecclesiae Remensis 3.27 (MGH Script. 13, 549).

179. Regino, Chronicon (887) (MGH Script. 1, 597).

180. Fragmentum Ann. Chesnii (.'NIGH Script. 1, 33)

181. Vita Hludowici 44 (.'NIGH Script. 2, 633); Annales Bertiniani. (830) (MGH Script. 1, 423‑424); Agobard, Libri duo pro filiis et contra Judith uxorem Ludovici Piz 1.3 (MGH Script. 15, 275).

182. Annales Bertiniani (862) (MGH Script. 1, 456).

183. Vita Anstrudis 28, 37 (MGH Script. rer. mer. 6, 75‑77)

184. Vita s. Austrebertae to (AS to Feb.; 2, 421). On the entrance fee, see note 114.

185. Jean Guerout, "Le monastère à l'époque carolingienne," in L Abbaye royale Notre‑Dame de Jouarre, ed. Y. Chaussy et al., vol. 1 (Paris, 1g61), 75‑78. We also know that Thiathilda, the abbess of Remiremont (ca. 818‑863),pleaded for the protection of her kinsman, the seneschal Adalard, and asked the proprietress, Empress Judith, not to divert other manors from the nuns' use; see Indicularius Thiathildis 3‑4 (.SIGH Form. 526‑527). As Heineken has noted, the property of both male and female cloisters was theoretically under royal management, but since "die Frauenkloster and ihrer Gutsverwaltung weniger selbständig waren, mussten dadurch die konigliche Ansprüche auf die Verfügung gestärkt werden." Die Anfänge, P. 73

186. Bouquet, Recued, vol. 8, 666; Hoebanx, L Abbaye de Nivelles, p. 107. See, also, the grant of immunity Charles issued for Hasnon in Tessier, Recueil, Vol. 2, 475

187. Jacques Choux described the transformation of Benedictine houses into chapters of canons by lay proprietors in "Décadence et réforme monastiques dans la province de Trèves, 855‑959," Revue Bénédictine, 70 (1 960), 204‑233. Despite this tendency and the Viking raids, the author assures us that "quant aux monastères de femmes . . . its valaient mieux que leur réputation." Ibid., p. 216. He cites from Vita lohannis Gorziensis (MGH Script.4,349): "Sanctimonalium habitacula . . . etsi non re, fama tamen obscurari . . ."

188. The twenty‑second abbess of Remiremont, who lived in the early tenth century, was referred to in a thirteenth‑century necrology as "abbatissa atque diachonissa." See Hlawitschka, Studien, p. 42. Atto of Vercelli (ca. 924‑96o) explained in one of his letters that the title deaconess was given to abbesses (Epist. 8; PL 134, 114‑115).

189. Mathilda of Quedlinburg held this title according to the Annales Quedlinburgenses (MGH Script. 3, 75). See also Karl Horger, "Die reichsrechtliche Stellung der Fürstäbtissinnen," Archiv fur Urkundenforschung, 9 (1926), 198; and Heineken, Die Anfänge, pp. 125‑126.

190. Conc. Mog. (888), 26 (Mansi 18, 71‑72).

191. See above, chapter 6, note 107.

192. She died between 86o and 865 at Wendhausen; see Vita s. Liutbirgae (MGH

Script. 4, 158‑164). See also Grosse, "Das Kloster Wendhausen, sein Stiftergeschlecht and seine Klausnerin."

193. Agius, Agii Vita et obitus Hathumodae 5‑6, 9 (MGH Script. 4, 168‑16g). Hathumoda died in 874, at age thirty‑four, according to her biographer, who was her brother. On Hathumoda, see note 17, above, and Paul Lehmann, Corveyer Studien, (Abh. d. bayerischen Akademie der Wiss., philos.‑philol. and hist. Klasse, 33/5; Munich, 1919).