From Penitence to Charity

From Penitence to Charity : Pious Women and the Catholic Reformation in Paris

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Between Penitence and Charity analyzes female penitents and the revival of Catholic institutions and spirituality that produced a stunning burst of religious construction during the French wars of religion. Diefendorf argues that the spiritual imperatives of self-mortification and renunciation of will that lay at the heart of this penitential piety profoundly influenced not just those with religious careers but also the behavior of devout lay women.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 352 pages
  • 162 x 236 x 28mm | 662.26g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195095820
  • 9780195095821

Review quote

"From Penitence to Charity is an important work that goes far to explain the intense religious enthusiasm of the first half of the century of the saints and that shows the crucial role that elite women played in helping to define this spiritualityIt furthers our understanding of the roles that women played in early modern European society and reinforces our view of the Catholic Reformation as a movement profoundly shaped by lay involvement rather than engineered and imposed by clerics."--Journal of Modern History"Barbara Diefendorf's new book on the leading role played by aristocratic and bourgeois women in the French Catholic revival marks the triumphant completion of a trilogy of books transformed our understanding of Paris in the era of the Catholic and Protestant Reformations. Diefendorf's lucid and straightforward prose will ensure that the books becomes essential reading to students and scholars of the Counter-Reformation. This is women's history at its best; rather than apply anachronistic interpretative models to slippery evidence, she builds strong narrative by letting female actors speak for themselves and in so doing she permits us to get as close as we can to their world, their experiences, and to the possibilities of female agency in the early modern public sphere."--The Sixteenth Century Journal"Relying on an impressive abundance of primary sources, printed and manuscript, Diefendorf identifies several developments during and just after the French wars of the later decades of the 1500s. This book will be very significant for historians of early modern France and for scholars interested in the interactions of religion, gender, and culture."--Theological Studies"From Penitence to Charity is one of the most important studies of the Catholic Reform to date. This book will change our understanding of the reform movement and gender."--Renaissance Quarterly"This book will be very significant for historians of early modern France and for scholars interested in the interactions of religion, gender, and culture."--Theological Studies"To say that Barbara Diefendorf's third monograph is her most significant contribution is saying something indeed. From Penitence to Charity bears all the hallmarks of Diefendorf's fine scholarly hand: meticulous research, nuanced analysis, and narrative richness. It is, however, a more ambitious project, one that deftly weaves together gender, religion, economics, and politics to explain the spiritual renewal of the seventeenth century. In the process, Diefendorf rewrites the history of the Catholic Reformation in France, and, along with it, the spiritual life of women."--H-France Review"The first achievement of this refreshing book is to return to the forefront of scholarly minds the forgotten and overshadowed Parisian women who drove Catholic revival in their city and beyond during and after the Wars of Religion."--The Journal of Ecclesiastical History"Diefendorf argues for the enormously positive role of women during the formative years of the Catholic Reformation. She makes her case eloquently and well. Without their collaboration, that Reformation would have been a much different thing."--The Catholic Historical Review"[A] significant contribution to the larger story of the "feminization" of religion in France....It could be argued that the Catholic Reformation, instead of being a moment when men controlled and confined women, was a moment when some women imposed their vision of piety upon the church. Diefendorf has composed a very compelling and readable book that offers her audience an understanding of the changing meanings of piety in late sixteenth and early seventeeth-century France."--American Historical Review ..".meticulously researched and compellingly written.... Diefendorf's study goes a long way toward recovering ways that women, as well as men, steered the development of early modern Catholicism."--CSS NEWSLETTER"Diefendorf captures in broad brush strokes and in telling detail the lives, spiritual yearnings, and charitable impulses of seventeenth-century Parisian women who fulfilled their lives in the new, immensely varied communities they created for themselves. The research is awesome: the saints come alive through narratives of social, financial, and institutional successes and failures. A major contribution to the history of women, Paris, and the mystical quest for union with the divine."--Orest Ranum, Johns Hopkins University"Diefendorf's book is the first major attempt to piece together and explain the powerful religious movement which made Paris the second capital of the Catholic Reformation by the early seventeenth century. Based on extensive research, it shrewdly sifts and weighs the constituent elements of religious revival, and convincingly shows how central the role of women in it really was. It sets both the standard and the agenda for future research, inside and outside of France."--Joseph Bergin, University of Manchester"This brief review can hardly do justice to a book that includes a number of gripping stories and intriguing details on its way to a successful, convincing synthetic approach to recent scholarly debates on women's experiences of the developing piety of the Counter-Reformation....Aside from its contributions to ongoing debates in the field, the true triumph of the picture of Catholic women's piety that emerges in this book is the fact that it could be read sympathetically both by secular scholars of the field and interested religious readers."--H-Catholic"This remarkable work revises our understanding of the Catholic Reformation in France in major ways. Certain Parisian women, Diefendorf demonstrates, fashioned a new style of piety that met their own spiritual needs. Then, as lay founders of convents and as prioresses in new institutions, they developed means for serving the needs of other women, both elite and poor, lay as well as religious. Diefendorf combines extensive new findings and new critical ways of reading contemporary sources with deep reflection and smooth, engaging writing."--Carolyn Lougee Chappell, Stanford University"From Penitence to Charity gives us a new view of women in early modern Catholicism. We see them not just as other-wordly mystics but as engaged, socially aware individuals active in their society and determined to remedy some of its worst ills. Diefendorf's highly readable book makes a strong case for women's agency and women's ability to transform mysticism into social action."--Kathryn Norberg, Editor, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society .,."meticulously researched and compellingly written.... Diefendorf's study goes a long way toward recovering ways that women, as well as men, steered the development of early modern Catholicism."--CSS NEWSLETTER "Diefendorf captures in broad brush strokes and in telling detail the lives, spiritual yearnings, and charitable impulses of seventeenth-century Parisian women who fulfilled their lives in the new, immensely varied communities they created for themselves. The research is awesome: the saints come alive through narratives of social, financial, and institutional successes and failures. A major contribution to the history of women, Paris, and the mystical quest for union with the divine."--Orest Ranum, Johns Hopkins University "Diefendorf's book is the first major attempt to piece together and explain the powerful religious movement which made Paris the second capital of the Catholic Reformation by the early seventeenth century. Based on extensive research, it shrewdly sifts and weighs the constituent elements of religious revival, and convincingly shows how central the role of women in it really was. It sets both the standard and the agenda for future research, inside and outside of France."--Joseph Bergin, University of Manchester "This brief review can hardly do justice to a book that includes a number of gripping stories and intriguing details on its way to a successful, convincing synthetic approach to recent scholarly debates on women's experiences of the developing piety of the Counter-Reformation....Aside from its contributions to ongoing debates in the field, the true triumph of the picture of Catholic women's piety that emerges in this book is the factthat it could be read sympathetically both by secular scholars of the field and interested religious readers."--H-Catholic "This remarkable work revises our understanding of the Catholic Reformation in France in major ways. Certain Parisian women, Diefendorf demonstrates, fashioned a new style of piety that met their own spiritual needs. Then, as lay founders of convents and as prioresses in new institutions, they developed means for serving the needs of other women, both elite and poor, lay as well as religious. Diefendorf combines extensive new findings and new critical ways of reading contemporary sources with deep reflection and smooth, engaging writing."--Carolyn Lougee Chappell, Stanford University "From Penitence to Charity gives us a new view of women in early modern Catholicism. We see them not just as other-wordly mystics but as engaged, socially aware individuals active in their society and determined to remedy some of its worst ills. Diefendorf's highly readable book makes a strong case for women's agency and women's ability to transform mysticism into social action."--Kathryn Norberg, Editor, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society ., ."meticulously researched and compellingly written.... Diefendorf's study goes a long way toward recovering ways that women, as well as men, steered the development of early modern Catholicism."--CSS NEWSLETTER"Diefendorf captures in broad brush strokes and in telling detail the lives, spiritual yearnings, and charitable impulses of seventeenth-century Parisian women who fulfilled their lives in the new, immensely varied communities they created for themselves. The research is awesome: the saints comealive through narratives of social, financial, and institutional successes and failures. A major contribution to the history of women, Paris, and the mystical quest for union with the divine."--Orest Ranum, Johns Hopkins University"Diefendorf's book is the first major attempt to piece together and explain the powerful religious movement which made Paris the second capital of the Catholic Reformation by the early seventeenth century. Based on extensive research, it shrewdly sifts and weighs the constituent elements ofreligious revival, and convincingly shows how central the role of women in it really was. It sets both the standard and the agenda for future research, inside and outside of France."--Joseph Bergin, University of Manchester"This brief review can hardly do justice to a book that includes a number of gripping stories and intriguing details on its way to a successful, convincing synthetic approach to recent scholarly debates on women's experiences of the developing piety of the Counter-Reformation....Aside from itscontributions to ongoing debates in the field, the true triumph of the picture of Catholic women'spiety that emerges in this book is the fact that it could be read sympathetically both by secular scholars of the field and interested religious readers."--H-Catholic"This remarkable work revises our understanding of the Catholic Reformation in France in major ways. Certain Parisian women, Diefendorf demonstrates, fashioned a new style of piety that met their own spiritual needs. Then, as lay founders of convents and as prioresses in new institutions, theydeveloped means for serving the needs of other women, both elite and poor, lay as well as religious. Diefendorf combines extensive new findings and new critical ways of reading contemporary sources with deep reflection and smooth, engaging writing."--Carolyn Lougee Chappell, Stanford University"From Penitence to Charity gives us a new view of women in early modern Catholicism. We see them not just as other-wordly mystics but as engaged, socially aware individuals active in their society and determined to remedy some of its worst ills. Diefendorf's highly readable book makes a strong casefor women's agency and women's ability to transform mysticism into social action."--Kathryn Norberg, Editor, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society , .."meticulously researched and compellingly written.... Diefendorf's study goes a long way toward recovering ways that women, as well as men, steered the development of early modern Catholicism."--CSS NEWSLETTER "Diefendorf captures in broad brush strokes and in telling detail the lives, spiritual yearnings, and charitable impulses of seventeenth-century Parisian women who fulfilled their lives in the new, immensely varied communities they created for themselves. The research is awesome: the saints come alive through narratives of social, financial, and institutional successes and failures. A major contribution to the history of women, Paris, and the mystical quest for union with the divine."--Orest Ranum, Johns Hopkins University "Diefendorf's book is the first major attempt to piece together and explain the powerful religious movement which made Paris the second capital of the Catholic Reformation by the early seventeenth century. Based on extensive research, it shrewdly sifts and weighs the constituent elements of religious revival, and convincingly shows how central the role of women in it really was. It sets both the standard and the agenda for future research, inside and outside of France."--Joseph Bergin, University of Manchester "This brief review can hardly do justice to a book that includes a number of gripping stories and intriguing details on its way to a successful, convincing synthetic approach to recent scholarly debates on women's experiences of the developing piety of the Counter-Reformation....Aside from its contributions to ongoing debates in the field, the true triumph of the picture of Catholic women'spiety that emerges in this book is the fact that it could be read sympathetically both by secular scholars of the field and interested religious readers."--H-Catholic "This remarkable work revises our understanding of the Catholic Reformation in France in major ways. Certain Parisian women, Diefendorf demonstrates, fashioned a new style of piety that met their own spiritual needs. Then, as lay founders of convents and as prioresses in new institutions, they developed means for serving the needs of other women, both elite and poor, lay as well as religious. Diefendorf combines extensive new findings and new critical ways of reading contemporary sources with deep reflection and smooth, engaging writing."--Carolyn Lougee Chappell, Stanford University "From Penitence to Charity gives us a new view of women in early modern Catholicism. We see them not just as other-wordly mystics but as engaged, socially aware individuals active in their society and determined to remedy some of its worst ills. Diefendorf's highly readable book makes a strong case for women's agency and women's ability to transform mysticism into social action."--Kathryn Norberg, Editor, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society .,."meticulously researched and compellingly written.... Diefendorf's study goes a long way toward recovering ways that women, as well as men, steered the development of early modern Catholicism."--CSS NEWSLETTER"Diefendorf captures in broad brush strokes and in telling detail the lives, spiritual yearnings, and charitable impulses of seventeenth-century Parisian women who fulfilled their lives in the new, immensely varied communities they created for themselves. The research is awesome: the saints comealive through narratives of social, financial, and institutional successes and failures. A major contribution to the history of women, Paris, and the mystical quest for union with the divine."--Orest Ranum, Johns Hopkins University"Diefendorf's book is the first major attempt to piece together and explain the powerful religious movement which made Paris the second capital of the Catholic Reformation by the early seventeenth century. Based on extensive research, it shrewdly sifts and weighs the constituent elements ofreligious revival, and convincingly shows how central the role of women in it really was. It sets both the standard and the agenda for future research, inside and outside of France."--Joseph Bergin, University of Manchester"This brief review can hardly do justice to a book that includes a number of gripping stories and intriguing details on its way to a successful, convincing synthetic approach to recent scholarly debates on women's experiences of the developing piety of the Counter-Reformation....Aside from itscontributions to ongoing debates in the field, the true triumph of the picture of Catholic women's piety that emerges in this book is thefact that it could be read sympathetically both by secular scholars of the field and interested religious readers."--H-Catholic"This remarkable work revises our understanding of the Catholic Reformation in France in major ways. Certain Parisian women, Diefendorf demonstrates, fashioned a new style of piety that met their own spiritual needs. Then, as lay founders of convents and as prioresses in new institutions, theydeveloped means for serving the needs of other women, both elite and poor, lay as well as religious. Diefendorf combines extensive new findings and new critical ways of reading contemporary sources with deep reflection and smooth, engaging writing."--Carolyn Lougee Chappell, Stanford University"From Penitence to Charity gives us a new view of women in early modern Catholicism. We see them not just as other-wordly mystics but as engaged, socially aware individuals active in their society and determined to remedy some of its worst ills. Diefendorf's highly readable book makes a strong casefor women's agency and women's ability to transform mysticism into social action."--Kathryn Norberg, Editor, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society ..."meticulously researched and compellingly written.... Diefendorf's study goes a long way toward recovering ways that women, as well as men, steered the development of early modern Catholicism."--CSS NEWSLETTER"Diefendorf captures in broad brush strokes and in telling detail the lives, spiritual yearnings, and charitable impulses of seventeenth-century Parisian women who fulfilled their lives in the new, immensely varied communities they created for themselves. The research is awesome: the saints comealive through narratives of social, financial, and institutional successes and failures. A major contribution to the history of women, Paris, and the mystical quest for union with the divine."--Orest Ranum, Johns Hopkins University"Diefendorf's book is the first major attempt to piece together and explain the powerful religious movement which made Paris the second capital of the Catholic Reformation by the early seventeenth century. Based on extensive research, it shrewdly sifts and weighs the constituent elements ofreligious revival, and convincingly shows how central the role of women in it really was. It sets both the standard and the agenda for future research, inside and outside of France."--Joseph Bergin, University of Manchester"This brief review can hardly do justice to a book that includes a number of gripping stories and intriguing details on its way to a successful, convincing synthetic approach to recent scholarly debates on women's experiences of the developing piety of the Counter-Reformation....Aside from itscontributions to ongoing debates in the field, the true triumph of the picture of Catholic women's piety that emerges in this book is thefact that it could be read sympathetically both by secular scholars of the field and interested religious readers."--H-Catholic"This remarkable work revises our understanding of the Catholic Reformation in France in major ways. Certain Parisian women, Diefendorf demonstrates, fashioned a new style of piety that met their own spiritual needs. Then, as lay founders of convents and as prioresses in new institutions, theydeveloped means for serving the needs of other women, both elite and poor, lay as well as religious. Diefendorf combines extensive new findings and new critical ways of reading contemporary sources with deep reflection and smooth, engaging writing."--Carolyn Lougee Chappell, Stanford University"From Penitence to Charity gives us a new view of women in early modern Catholicism. We see them not just as other-wordly mystics but as engaged, socially aware individuals active in their society and determined to remedy some of its worst ills. Diefendorf's highly readable book makes a strong casefor women's agency and women's ability to transform mysticism into social action."--Kathryn Norberg, Editor, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Societyshow more

About Barbara B. Diefendorf

Barbara B. Diefendorf is Professor of History at Boston University.show more

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