Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. iii-iv

Contents

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pp. v-vi

Illustrations and Maps

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p. vii

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Preface

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pp. ix-xv

The city of Ghent today is as vibrant as ever. Once Flanders’ unruly capital, it now teems with students who rush through its streets on their way to class; tourists who arrive by the busload to pay tribute to van Eyck’s Altarpiece at St. Baafs; hordes of workers commuting to the vast industrial plants that border its canal to the Scheldt estuary. But those who wander away from the city and proceed...

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1. Women, Work, and Religion in the Southern Low Countries

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pp. 1-34

Medieval visitors to the southern Low Countries would have been struck first by the variety of the landscape unfolding before them as they crossed the region from west to east. In a journey of a mere 150 miles, they would have traveled from the marshy lowlands of coastal Flanders to the gently rolling wheat fields of Brabant—immortalized by Pieter Brueghel in the sixteenth century—to the...

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2. The Formation of Beguinages

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pp. 35-60

Around 1200, lay women of the southern Low Countries began to lead a new kind of religious life that became popular rapidly. Its success drew the attention of many contemporary observers. James of Vitry, the famous preacher, moralist, and cardinal (d. 1240), who worked hard to publicize the women’s efforts, noted in his Life of Mary of Oignies that by 1212, ‘‘many holy maidens (sanctae virgines)...

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3. The Contemplative and the Active Life

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pp. 61-90

Like many other religious movements—orthodox as well as heretical—that rose up after the eleventh century, the beguines demonstrated both a desire to withdraw from contemporary social life and a wish to be involved in it. These seemingly contradictory goals were embedded in the apostolic model that informed religious renewal and dissent in this age. The model celebrated the ideals of voluntary...

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4. The Social Composition of Beguine Communities

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pp. 91-117

The oldest studies of medieval German beguines believed they came primarily from the lower artisan or servant strata, a conviction that relied more on late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century sociological theory than on empirical research.¹ In his authoritative Religiöse Bewegungen of 1935, Herbert Grundmann rejected that view categorically and argued that the beguines’ ideal of voluntary...

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5. Conflict and Coexistence

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pp. 118-137

In the summer of 1273, most probably on the feast of the Transfiguration celebrated on August 6, the Dominican Giles of Orleans preached a sermon in the church of the beguines of Paris on the parable of the unjust steward, taken from Luke 16. Giles was a popular preacher, who spoke to the beguines at least four times in that same liturgical year. In this sermon, he wished to remind them that...

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6. Conclusion

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pp. 138-143

The mid-sixteenth century was a turbulent time for the southern Low Countries. Political and religious dissent led to numerous conflicts between the Spanish crown and its subjects from the 1520s on; excessive taxation and economic setbacks further aggravated the tensions, which finally escalated in the iconoclast movement of 1566 and the subsequent revolt. In 1559, in an atmosphere of rising anxiety,...

Abbreviations

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pp. 145-147

Notes

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pp. 149-222

Bibliography

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pp. 223-251

Appendix I: Repertory of Beguine Communities

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pp. 253-303

Appendix II: The Population of Select Court Beguinages

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pp. 304-313

Index

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pp. 315-335