When spiritual and secular families overlap
in English Benedictine nuns in exile in the seventeenth century
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By abandoning their homeland in order to become enclosed nuns in exile, English Benedictines committed to a religious of choice that may seem even more absolute than that of their continental counterparts. They were not only separated from the world by the rule of the cloister but cut off from their friends and families by the geographical displacement that vocation imposed. Or such was the theory; yet, reality was often quite different. Combining a prosopographic approach and quantitative and qualitative analyses, this chapter shows that the English convents reflected the secular patterns of the society from which they came, and that nuns were quite adept at building networks of kin. Their families did play a role in the recruitment patterns of exiled convents.


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