From Penitence to Charity

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

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Winner of the American Historical Society's J. Russell Major prize for the best book on French History, From Penitence to 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 behaviour of devout lay women.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 368 pages
  • 152.4 x 228.6 x 25.4mm | 521.64g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0195095839
  • 9780195095838
  • 1,409,215

Review quote

"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 "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 "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
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About Barbara B. Diefendorf

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