Cities of Ladies: Beguine Communities in the Medieval Low Countries, 1200-1565

By Suydam, Mary | The Catholic Historical Review, October 2002 | Go to article overview

Cities of Ladies: Beguine Communities in the Medieval Low Countries, 1200-1565


Suydam, Mary, The Catholic Historical Review


Cities of Ladies. Beguine Communities in the Medieval Low Countries, 1200-1565. By Walter Simons. (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. 2001. Pp. xv, 335. $65.00.)

One of the most intriguing religious movements of the European Middle Ages was that of the beguines: women who lived together, had religious vocations, nursed the ill and dying, but were not nuns and did not live sequestered in convents. Instead, beguines lived by the work of their hands in "cities of ladies": communities generally situated in the hearts of the urban landscapes of the medieval Low Countries. There has been a wealth of new research on beguines since the last major English work on beguines was published in 1954 (Ernest McDonnell's The Beguines and Beghards in Medieval Culture: With Special Emphasis on the Belgian Scene). Walter Simons' Cities of Ladies brings scholars up to date and provides a framework within which to understand this complex phenomenon.

Simons concentrates upon two facets of the beguine movement: the religious status and gender of its participants. First and foremost, the beguine movement was propelled by lay people; beguines never took permanent vows of chastity, obedience, and poverty. Secondly, female lay people defined this movement from its inception. Simons believes that these characteristics define and explain much of its subsequent history.

Simons dismisses the theory that beguines were women who aspired to be nuns but could not, either because they were not patrician or because many reform religious orders stopped admitting women after 1200. He also refutes the argument that a surplus of women overwhelming northern European cities exhausted available religious or marital resources. According to Simons, beguine documents indicate that they sought to avoid marriage and helped others to do likewise. Moreover, few beguines ever became nuns even when they had the opportunity. Simons argues that beguines pursued a vocation different from that offered by either marriage or the convent: the ability to earn one's own living while caring for the disadvantaged "in the world" rather than sequestered from it. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Cities of Ladies: Beguine Communities in the Medieval Low Countries, 1200-1565
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.