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Resiliency, Adaptability, and Agency: Exiled English nuns in France and the Spanish Netherlands, 1597-1700

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Title: Resiliency, Adaptability, and Agency: Exiled English nuns in France and the Spanish Netherlands, 1597-1700
Author: Rooks, Emily
Department: Department of History
Program: History
Advisor: Ekholst, ChristineGoddard, Peter
Abstract: This thesis is an examination of the Catholic English women who fled to France and the Spanish Netherlands throughout the seventeenth century to escape religious persecution of Catholics in England and to become nuns. Through the analysis of three convent histories written by English nuns, this study investigates the relationships that the English nuns held within their local towns. The convent histories reveal that it was the spiritual, social, and economic bonds between the exiled nuns and the local townspeople that helped to secure the success of the English convents, as they provided the nuns with stable and reliable revenue streams. However, in order to secure and maintain these bonds the nuns had to adapt to meet the needs and expectations of the townspeople. Thus, exile complicated the nuns’ identity as a result of the division between their loyalty to the Catholic English mission and their financial dependency on the local town. I argue that as a result of the socio-economic and cultural ties with the local laity, the English nuns fostered an identity that incorporated elements of the local culture in order to sustain the convents’ longevity. Therefore, in order to survive the hardships experienced, the “exiled” English nuns had to demonstrate remarkable resiliency, adaptability, and agency to secure their place on the continent.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10214/8782
Date: 2015-04
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