Academic journal article Magistra

The Beguines of Medieval Paris. Gender, Patronage, and Spiritual Authority

Academic journal article Magistra

The Beguines of Medieval Paris. Gender, Patronage, and Spiritual Authority

Article excerpt

The Beguines of Medieval Paris. Gender, Patronage, and Spiritual Authority, by Tanya Stabler Miller. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014. 293 pp. (with illustrations), $55, ISBN 978-0-4607-0.

Miller is a gifted writer, deftly handling detailed historical data without losing her narrative. Her research focused on one powerful court beguinage established (and partly funded) by the French King Louis IX. While this beguinage, whose chapel is dedicated to St. Catherine, is the focus of her research, she acknowledges and provides historical data on the many other beguines living, working and ministering around Paris.

Miller begins with King Louis' return to Paris, determining to establish a court beguinage as he had seen in the Low Countries. She carefully pieces together the politics and agenda surrounding the location chosen and its impact on the beguines and surrounding area. She explores beguine interaction and noninteraction with the economic and social world of Paris. The beguines of Paris were able to support themselves and their ministry, in large part, because of their involvement in the many stages of silk production and trade. Beguines were able to work at home or create workshops for groups of women to work together. Beguines, not surprisingly, also trained and mentored women in the various stages of silk production and crafting small silk goods. …

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