Academic journal article Magistra

Religious Women in Early Carolingian Francia: A Study of Manuscript Transmission & Monastic Culture

Academic journal article Magistra

Religious Women in Early Carolingian Francia: A Study of Manuscript Transmission & Monastic Culture

Article excerpt

Religious Women in Early Carolingian Francia: A Study of Manuscript Transmission & Monastic Culture, Felice Lifshitz. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014. 349 pp., $65, ISBN 9780-823285687-7.

Monastic women have a long oral tradition that claims that monastic women (with some rare exception) have our own long intellectual tradition, even if little of it survived. My heart was again warmed by the scholarship of Felice Lifshitz who "put some meat on the bones," regarding this tradition. She states simply, "This book is a study of manuscripts produced during the eighth century in the Anglo-Saxon cultural province in Francia, and it argues that the Christian culture of that region was thoroughly gender-egalitarian, and in many ways feminist" (3) [yes, she clarifies her use of this word].

Per Lifshitz's research and analysis, the Main Valley had long accepted a woman's equality with men, married or not, and of syneisactic relationships among religious. With a healthy agriculture (primarily wine-producing), the region was able to support large numbers of women's communities, and also valued their presence, and these communities were intellectual powerhouses with the scriptoria to support this. Many AngloSaxon women, including Leoba and Walburga (important to American Benedictine women as their ancestors), were invited from a resource-poor British Isle to the Main Valley where their intellectual gifts would be encouraged and supported. …

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