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Power in Pursuit of Religion: The Penitent Sisters of Speyer and Their Choice of Affiliation

  • Christopher M. Kurpiewski
Chapter
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)

Abstract

The history of women’s religious communities in the Middle Ages remains largely indistinct from that of the male orders charged with their spiritual care. In this chapter, Kurpiewski examines the choice of affiliation for women active in an urban religious movement during the thirteenth century. Self-identifying with the redemption of Mary Magdalen, women who joined the German Order of Penitents enjoyed substantial ecclesiastical support. A case study from the episcopal city of Speyer, however, reveals sisters becoming key players in a contest between burghers and the cathedral. By choosing their moment to attach themselves to the Dominican Order, the sisters were able to undercut their lord bishop on behalf of their families and neighbors, thereby helping secure Speyer’s status as a free city.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher M. Kurpiewski
    • 1
  1. 1.Princeton UniversityPrincetonUSA

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