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Practical Pastoral Care: Vowesses In Northern England In The Later Middle Ages

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Chapter Summary

A widow undertaking a career in religious life in Middle Ages took advantage of an option which had been a part of Christian tradition since the days of Acts of the Apostles, and incorporated some cultural elements from Roman and Judaic traditions. This initial survey of practical aspects of the relationship between the individual widows who took religious vows and their spiritual caregivers uses a variety of sources to highlight the expectations women must meet to take vows, the ecclesiastical process by which they were accepted and vowed, the expectations for widows after taking vows and the consequences the church imposed upon those who did not meet those expectations. Using evidence from See of York, which includes the areas overseen by the clergy of York, Durham and Carlisle as well as the Archdeaconry of Richmond, this chapter illustrates that there was no clear pattern of ecclesiastical supervision for these women.

Keywords: Acts of the Apostles; Christian tradition; England; pastoral care; religious vows; See of York; spiritual caregivers; widows



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