Public bodies and private spaces : locating cloistered contemplative discourses in female Franciscan spirituality in thirteenth-century Umbria
The thesis explores how far enclosure was pivotal in shaping the female Franciscan spirituality in thirteenth-century Umbria as cloistered and contemplative. It focuses on how enclosure influenced the development of representations of female urban sainthood, with particular reference to three Umbrian saints; Clare of Assisi, Clare of Montefalco and Angela of Foligno. The issue of enclosure came to the fore because of the success of the Franciscan movement in promoting the apostolic life, which emphasised the itinerant life, evangelisation and participation within the urban community. However, women who aspired to follow these values were instead directed towards introspective, contemplative seclusion. The claustration of Clare of Assisi exemplified this type of response. Using a combination of a wide range of sources, the nature of enclosure and the processes by which claustration was consistently articulated and promoted are reconstructed. My research reveals that the creation of the cloistered ideal was a negotiated process. The first, chapter, Challenging the stabilitas loci, examines the significance of hagiographic sources, in the form of vitae and canonisation proceedings, in revealing the nature of enclosure for religious women, and, by utilising a wide number of saintly examples, shows how often enclosure was in reality broken by women. The following two chapters concentrate on the construction of male textual authority and the importance they placed on the seclusion for religious women. Chapter 2, The regularisation of chastity: between doctrine practice, examines the theological arguments that were put forward in the development of monastic rules for women and how they reflected a trend that assumed that professed religious women ought to remain within the cloister. In doing so, the regularisation of the cloister emphasised the preservation of the chastity of nuns, through their affiliation to established orders, their supervision and material provision.