Geschichtliche Landeskunde und Historische Hilfswissenschaften


Eine Schriftenreihe der Arbeitsgemeinschaft Geistlicher Frauen im europäischen Mittelalter
Brepols Verlag / Brepolis


  • Prof. Alison Beach (Ohio State University)
  • Letha Böhringer (Universität zu Köln)
  • Sigrid Hirbodian (Universität Tübingen)
  • Gisela Muschiol (Universität Bonn)
  • Band 1 / Sanct 1:

Labels and Libels. Naming Beguines in Northern Medieval Europe, hgg. von Letha Böhringer / Jennifer Kolpacoff Deane / Hildo van Engen, Brepols 2014.

Offers the first internationally comparative study of beguines, investigating the shifting nomenclature both applied to and adopted by lay religious women in northern Europe between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries to reveal new facets of medieval social, gender, and religious culture.

This volume investigates the diverse meanings assigned to and adopted by lay religious women in northern Europe between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries. While many outstanding studies have unearthed the local or regional significance of such women, little comparative or transregional scholarship exists to date. Moreover, traditional emphasis on medieval ecclesiastical condemnation of beguines has obscured the extent to which their communities were intertwined with supportive local social structures.

Exploring the multiplicity of contemporary perspectives in the Belgian, Dutch, French, and German contexts over time, the volume traces not only the women’s relationships to various authorities and institutions, but also the specific terms used to represent and respond to ‘beguines’. Illuminating the kaleidoscopic ways in which medieval people categorized, described, and engaged with such women, the collected essays also underscore the extent to which simple dualities of ‘clerical’ and ‘lay’, ‘elite’ and ‘popular’, and ‘orthodox’ and ‘heretical’ are insufficient constructs with which to map intersections of medieval gender, lay religiosity, and society. In doing so, they propose new avenues and coordinates for exploring the sociospiritual topography of medieval Europe.

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • Introduction — GILES CONSTABLE
  • WALTER SIMONS: Beginnings: Naming Beguines in the Southern Low Countries, 1200 – 1250
  • Würzburg Beguines and the Vienne Decrees: Case Studies and Comparative Models of German Beguine History — JENNIFER KOLPACOFF DEANE
  • When is a Beguine Not a Beguine? Names, Norms, and Nuance in Canonical Literature — ELIZABETH MAKOWSKI
  • Dangerous Heretics or Silly Fools? The Name ‘Beguine’ as a Label for Lay Religious Women of Early Thirteenth-Century Brabant — VERA VON DER OSTEN-SACKEN
  • On Being a Beguine in France, c.1300 — SEAN FIELD
  • ‘Love is Beguine’: Labeling Lay Religiosity in Thirteenth-Century Paris — TANYA STABLER MILLER
  • Merging into Clergy: Beguine Self-Promotion in Cologne in the 13th and 14th Centuries — LETHA BÖHRINGER
  • Beguines and the Devotio Moderna at the Turn of the Fifteenth Century — KOEN GOUDRIAAN
  • Epilogue: The View Ahead