Medieval classifications of the virtues attempted to establish hierarchies, frequently placing one virtue at the top. An important group of medieval texts used the architectural and social framework of a monastery, in which virtues were embodied in parts of the structure and also in the obedientaries. In this framework, the notion of a governing virtue was expressed through its personification as the abbot or abbess, and while the early Latin allegories, beginning with the De claustro animae of Hugh of Fouilloy, made Reason the abbot, in a widely copied anonymous French adaptation, the Abbaye du saint Esprit, where the abbey becomes a community of nuns, the abbess is Charity. The reasons for the shift from Reason to Love as governing virtue lie in theological and spiritual developments, as well as in the change of audience from religious and male to lay and female and the new functions for the allegory brought by this shift.


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pp. 67-83
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