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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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Elders and Forced Monachization

Elders and Forced Monachization

(p.52) Chapter 3 Elders and Forced Monachization
By Force and Fear

Anne Jacobson Schutte

Cornell University Press

This chapter considers the means elders used to force adolescents into monasteries and convents. By employing physical and psychological intimidation, they forced adolescent offspring, nephews and nieces, grandchildren, and wards into monastic life without regard for these young people’s unwillingness to enter it. Usually they acted for financial reasons. In many instances, their efforts were seconded or at least not opposed by the victims’ siblings. The chapter begins by introducing the legal doctrine of patria potestas (paternal power), which from the point of view of most lay people—though not in the eyes of the Church—authorized this practice. Next, it outlines systems of inheritance that encouraged removing some members of the younger generation from the inheritance stream. It then explores in detail how elders in families of various types and sizes accomplished forced monachization. Finally, it shows that this evidence calls into question some widely accepted hypotheses about dramatic changes in the European family during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Keywords:   adolescents, forced monachization, monastic life, paternal power, patria potestas, inheritance, European family

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