Proving Woman: Female Spirituality and Inquisitional Culture in the Later Middle Ages [NOOK Book]

Overview

Around the year 1215, female mystics and their sacramental devotion were among orthodoxy's most sophisticated weapons in the fight against heresy. Holy women's claims to be in direct communication with God placed them in positions of unprecedented influence. Yet by the end of the Middle Ages female mystics were frequently mistrusted, derided, and in danger of their lives. The witch hunts were just around the corner.

While studies of sanctity and heresy tend to be undertaken ...

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Proving Woman: Female Spirituality and Inquisitional Culture in the Later Middle Ages

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Overview

Around the year 1215, female mystics and their sacramental devotion were among orthodoxy's most sophisticated weapons in the fight against heresy. Holy women's claims to be in direct communication with God placed them in positions of unprecedented influence. Yet by the end of the Middle Ages female mystics were frequently mistrusted, derided, and in danger of their lives. The witch hunts were just around the corner.

While studies of sanctity and heresy tend to be undertaken separately, Proving Woman brings these two avenues of inquiry together by associating the downward trajectory of holy women with medieval society's progressive reliance on the inquisitional procedure. Inquisition was soon used for resolving most questions of proof. It was employed for distinguishing saints and heretics; it underwrote the new emphasis on confession in both sacramental and judicial spheres; and it heralded the reintroduction of torture as a mechanism for extracting proof through confession.

As women were progressively subjected to this screening, they became ensnared in the interlocking web of proofs. No aspect of female spirituality remained untouched. Since inquisition determined the need for tangible proofs, it even may have fostered the kind of excruciating illnesses and extraordinary bodily changes associated with female spirituality. In turn, the physical suffering of holy women became tacit support for all kinds of earthly suffering, even validating temporal mechanisms of justice in their most aggressive forms. The widespread adoption of inquisitional mechanisms for assessing female spirituality eventuated in a growing confusion between the saintly and heretical and the ultimate criminalization of female religious expression.

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Editorial Reviews

American Historical Review - John Coakley
By revealing the importance of gender-related issues where we had not seen them, [Dyan Elliot] presents that familiar picture in a new, indeed unfamiliar, light.
From the Publisher

Winner of the 2006 Otto Grundler Award, Western Michigan University, The Medieval Institute

Finalist for the 2005 Philip Schaff Prize, The American Society of Church History

"By revealing the importance of gender-related issues where we had not seen them, [Dyan Elliot] presents that familiar picture in a new, indeed unfamiliar, light."--John Coakley, American Historical Review

American Historical Review
By revealing the importance of gender-related issues where we had not seen them, [Dyan Elliot] presents that familiar picture in a new, indeed unfamiliar, light.
— John Coakley
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400826025
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 1/10/2009
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Course Book
  • Pages: 368
  • File size: 4 MB

Meet the Author

Dyan Elliott is Professor of History and Adjunct Professor of Religious Studies at Indiana University. She is the author of "Spiritual Marriage: Sexual Abstinence in Medieval Wedlock" (Princeton) and "Fallen Bodies: Pollution, Sexuality, and Demonology in the Middle Ages."
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Abbreviations xi
Introduction 1
CHAPTER ONE
Sacramental Confession as Proof of Orthodoxy 9
PART ONE
Women as Proof of Orthodoxy
CHAPTER TWO
The Beguines: A Sponsored Emergence 47
CHAPTER THREE
Elisabeth of Hungary: Between Men 85
PART TWO
Inquisitions and Proof
CHAPTER FOUR
Sanctity, Heresy, and Inquisition 119
CHAPTER FIVE
Between Two Deaths: The Living Mystic 180
PART THREE
The Discernment of Spirits
CHAPTER SIX
Clerical Quibbles 233
CHAPTER SEVEN
John Gerson and Joan of Arc 264
CONCLUSION 297
Bibliography 305
Index 333
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