By Stephanie Hollis
This learn of literature through clerics who have been writing to, for, or aboutAnglo-Saxon girls within the eighth and early ninth centuries indicates thatthe place of girls had already declined sharply prior to the Conquest a declare at variance with the normal scholarly view. Stephanie Hollis argues that Pope Gregory's letter to Augustine and Theodore's Penitentialimplicitly express the early church's view of girls as subordinate to males, and continues that a lot early church writing displays conceptions of womanhood that had hardened into confirmed standard by way of the later center a long time. To aid her argument the writer examines the indigenous place of girls sooner than the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity, and considers purposes for the early church's concessions in admire of girls. Emblematic of advancements within the conversion interval, the institution and eventual suppression of abbess-ruled double monasteries kinds a distinct concentration of this examine. STEPHANIE HOLLIS is Senior Lecturer in Early English, Universityof Auckland, New Zealand.
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Additional info for Anglo-Saxon Women and the Church: Sharing a Common Fate
17 I think, then, that it might be more accurate to speak of a gradual erosion in the position of women, particularly monastic women, from at least as early as the 8th century;18 doubtless this accelerated in the latter half of the 11th century, although Edward the Confessor's return to England after a long exile in his mother's Norman homeland, and the presence of Norman clerics in England during his reign, suggest that 11th century England experienced some forms of continuity as well as sudden change.
Chapter 4 is particularly concerned to give substance to the inclusive and egalitarian tendencies of the early church in its examination of the Boniface circle's correspondence, but is obliged to confront a sharp dichotomy between the view of women that Boniface expresses as an episcopal legislator, and the expectations of him expressed by the monastic women to whom he was a friend and teacher in his youth, which are confirmed by his letters to them. The last five chapters deal with hagiography for the function of hagiography is not to depict the world as it was but to present an uplifting and edifying version of actuality, and in this sense Bede's History is hagiography.
Not only is there little direct evidence of the church's interactions with non-aristocratic women, but all deductions concerning the nature of pre-conversion (and hence pre-literate) Anglo-Saxon society are inevitably contentious. I am, nevertheless, viewing the conversion of England as a process of cultural negotiation, and accept that the relatively high social status of Anglo-Saxon noblewomen represents the continuity of indigenous custom. M. Stenton, The English Woman in History (London, 1957), p.