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Gender and Connectivity: Facilitating Religious Travel in the Sixth and Seventh Centuries


Using gender as a lens, this article evaluates the nature of female networks of religious connection and communication in the early medieval period. The vitae of three female saints of the sixth and seventh centuries, Radegund of Poitiers, Brigid of Kildare, and Gertrude of Nivelles, demonstrate the way that women facilitated and instigated networks of contact through their relationships with others, especially men and particularly their kin. These relationships allowed women to play a crucial role in forming heterogeneous cultural and religious connections across both long and short distances in the period. The methodology of connectivity, which as a concept needs to be both engaged with and challenged, allows the probing of questions of how and why medieval people communicated and connected with one another across geographical and imaginative boundaries.

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