A major study of women and the medieval Irish church, this book includes ground-breaking investigations of medieval nunneries in Ireland, their personnel, patrons, buildings and estates and their strategies for ensuring the productivity of their resources. The author argues for the existence of close ties between the supposedly cloistered nuns and the surrounding lay communities. Medieval women not among the small number who actually joined nunneries channelled their pious energies towards such activities as patronage of local churches and monasteries, pilgrimage and requests for papal and Episcopal privileges. These pious activities are examined in detail and placed within their European context. This exploration into a previously neglected aspect of the history of monastic and church life in medieval Ireland is a major contribution to the history of women in Ireland and Europe.
Dianne Hall holds a PhD from Trinity College, Dublin, and teaches in the department of history at the University of Melbourne.