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The Basque SerorasLocal Religion, Gender, and Power in Northern Iberia, 1550-1800$
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Amanda L. Scott

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501747496

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501747496.001.0001

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The Basque Seroras and Lay Female Religious Life in the Early Modern World

The Basque Seroras and Lay Female Religious Life in the Early Modern World

(p.18) Chapter 1 The Basque Seroras and Lay Female Religious Life in the Early Modern World
The Basque Seroras

Amanda L. Scott

Cornell University Press

This chapter discusses the lay female religious life in the early modern world. Simultaneously ignored, sanctified, suspected of heresy, lauded, and targeted for reform, devout laywomen presented both obstacles and inspiration in the milieu of early modern European religious life. The seroría provided Basque women with a sanctioned and respectable channel, while allowing them freedom of movement and a degree of economic autonomy that was unmatched by other forms of lay religiosity elsewhere in Europe during the late medieval and early modern periods. Yet while the seroría was unique to the Basque lands, it reflected common female impulses to seek spiritual fulfillment at home and in the familiar spheres of their parish communities. These impulses swelled and then tapered off periodically from antiquity through the medieval and early modern periods, yet they were a consistent part of lived Christian experience that mirrored and responded to wider social, economic, and religious movements of the times. The seroras can be understood only within the context of lay and quasi-religious female devotion—in its many permutations—and placing them within this context also helps broaden the definition and parameters of medieval and early modern female religious life.

Keywords:   female religious life, laywomen, European religious life, seroría, Basque women, lay religiosity, seroras, quasi-religious female devotion, reform

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