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By Force and FearTaking and Breaking Monastic Vows in Early Modern Europe$
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Anne Jacobson Schutte

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801449772

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801449772.001.0001

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Literary and Historiographical Contexts

Literary and Historiographical Contexts

(p.23) Chapter 2 Literary and Historiographical Contexts
By Force and Fear

Anne Jacobson Schutte

Cornell University Press

This chapter traces the concept of forced monachization through treatments in imaginative literature from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries and then in historical writing. It shows how the incorrect assumption that only women were coerced into religious life developed, solidified, and has remained in place until the present day. The overwhelming predominance of women in literary treatments of forced monachization can be explained by the social and legal subordination of women over a very longue durée, one that began to end only in the twentieth century and remains far from complete. Since women—once universally considered to be physically, intellectually, morally, and legally weak—could be presented as much more plausible victims than men, they made excellent tragic heroines.

Keywords:   monastic vows, forced monachization, religious life, women

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