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Open Access ‘Please Do Not Mind The Crudeness Of Its Weave': Literature, Gender And The Polemic Authority Of Anna Bijns

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‘Please Do Not Mind The Crudeness Of Its Weave': Literature, Gender And The Polemic Authority Of Anna Bijns

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Chapter Summary

Even though we are currently familiar with a long medieval tradition of influential women and female authors who were hermits and Beguines, it seems astonishing that one of the first printed polemics against Luther in the Netherlands was written by a laywoman, especially when we consider the fact that this woman did not speak just for herself, but in the name of a larger group of the faithful. This chapter investigates how and why Anna Bijns could become their mouthpiece. What role did the Franciscans play? How could she, a female author, acquire such standing that members of a monastic order supported her and that her readers accepted her authority, as becomes apparent from the large number of reprints of her books continuing well into the seventeenth century? The chapter also looks at her self-presentation and at the extent to which this self-presentation affected her reception.

Keywords: Anna Bijns; Franciscans; medieval tradition; self-presentation; seventeenth century

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