Friday, July 26, 2013

Five Years Before the End of the English Monasteries: 1535 to 1540

Five years is a long time, isn't it? One thousand, eight hundred, and twenty-six days, with an extra day for Leap Year thrown in; six hundred and twenty-four weeks; sixty months. Yet when we look back at history, the days, weeks, and months seem to slide by: Thomas Cromwell starts his Visitation of the Monasteries and then they're all gone, just like that! But during those five years, the monks, friars and nuns in England didn't stop living their lives as monks, friars, and nuns: they prayed the Divine Office, observing the Hours and their Rule; they celebrated feasts and endured fasts; they read and studied and worked--and they responded to the religious changes going on around them. Mary C. Erler, author of Women, Reading, and Piety in Late Medieval England also from Cambridge University Press, proposes to describe that reality by studying what the monks, friars, and nuns read and wrote during those crucial years of the history of monasticism in England, from 1530 to 1558.

From Cambridge University Press:

Reading and Writing during the Dissolution: Monks, Friars, and Nuns 1530–1558

Author: Mary C. Erler   From 1534 when Henry VIII became head of the English church until the end of Mary Tudor's reign in 1558, the forms of English religious life evolved quickly and in complex ways. At the heart of these changes stood the country's professed religious men and women, whose institutional homes were closed between 1535 and 1540. Records of their reading and writing offer a remarkable view of these turbulent times. The responses to religious change of friars, anchorites, monks and nuns from London and the surrounding regions are shown through chronicles, devotional texts, and letters. What becomes apparent is the variety of positions that English religious men and women took up at the Reformation and the accommodations that they reached, both spiritual and practical. Of particular interest are the extraordinary letters of Margaret Vernon, head of four nunneries and personal friend of Thomas Cromwell.

~Richly detailed biographies of English monks, friars and nuns, examining their reading and writing
~Offers a fascinating look at the human complexities produced by the Dissolution
~Shows the continuities, as well as the ruptures, in the shift away from traditional social and religious forms

Table of Contents:   1. Looking backward?: London's last anchorite, Simon Appulby (†1537) 2. The Greyfriars Chronicle and the fate of London's Franciscan community
3. Cromwell's nuns: Katherine Bulkeley, Morpheta Kingsmill, Joan Fane
4. Cromwell's abbess and friend, Margaret Vernon
5. 'Refugee Reformation': the effects of exile
6. Richard Whitford's last work, 1541

Google books sample here. Looks fascinating!

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